You and your skills gap

There is a very important gap between theory and practise, while university supplies you with many good tools and starting points in ones chosen profession. However when talking to the “industry types” you will often hear the term skills gap. There is some contention as to if this problem really exists or even how you define it but for the purpose of this article we will define skills gap as there being a shortage of people with the necessary skills to do a job. That could be because there are not enough people or that employers feel that there is insufficient education given to those who are entering the field.

One way to think of this is that if you ignore grades from uni and you set out to find someone who you think will be really good for your company you will probably look for someone with a large and diverse portfolio in relation to what you want them to do. This is a great idea, probably time consuming but may give you a little better insight to those who you hire. So will you will probably be looking at the kind of person who spent their lectures at uni not focusing on what was going on in class but the latest project. If you have ever been to an I.T. based lecture you will always find at least one person who is programming, debugging, learning old network code.

I personally argue that these are the kinds of people who to well at their job because they have a go, they have tried and failed and tried again. So how does one become a little more like that? It’s simple have a go fail and try again. This week I have been doing a lot of that and it has been really refreshing. Who knew that putting your skills to the test could give you confidence.

So my degree has a lot to do with databases, I can tell you all about distributed databases and primary keys, candidate keys and what is the difference between 2NF and BCNF but do you know how many databases I have built by myself. Two I have built two, I have come up with about thirty or so queries for said databases without help and I have only done this within the last year.

To me these numbers are small, how can I have spent about two and a half years learning these things and only really understand what it is like to work with them on a daily level form the last year. The point I’m trying to make is that only recently have I felt that my theory has been tested and annoyingly only one of my database courses made me feel like I was really learning how to operate a database. This in short is the skills gap.

So what do you do, JUST START DOING SOMETHING. This is harder than it sounds, most tech projects are very complicated and are not the easiest to just jump into. But that is exactly what you have to do, get out an old fashioned notebook and start planning. Start with what you don’t know and keep going. You will find there is a lot you know about something you have been studying for years. I’m sure that even people who have been working for a few years still find things they don’t know and probably should. The point is sometimes you have to take your education into your own hands and try hard to apply the knowledge you have been working for but perhaps in a way that it was not originally advertised.

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