November 24, 2008, 1:00 PM — Is a career in IT worth pursuing? Do you love it so much that as an active participant in the area, you'd recommend your kids follow suit? Or will you be drawing them away with whatever it takes?
Research firm Gartner looks to explore this topic this week in a debate at its annual Symposium, held in Sydney. The debate, titled 'Would you recommend an IT Career for your Kids?', will include two speakers debating the pros and cons in addition to audience participation.
According to Gartner distinguished analyst and Symposium chair Rolf Jester the affirmative case is strong.
Jester said there is no such thing as a business problem that isn't going to be implemented in the form of IT.
"Even in the bad [economic] times people say we are going to take certain business initiatives to protect us. Those initiatives involve IT work. It needs to be said that if anything, increasingly as we go into the future, IT will always be an underpinning of everything that happens," he said.
This sentiment is supported by Steven Reddy, an IT consultant at accounting firm Accru Felsers.
"IT is definitely a support service first and foremost. It's definitely there as a means to help promote whatever the businesses prime function is," Reddy said.
According to Jester, at its best, IT can take a proactive role in a business and suggest change, innovation, improvement, "and not just in the way things are done but what is done".
"At its best it is a very forward looking activity," he said.
But IT's ubiquity is also its problem.
"Because it is everywhere, really there is nothing special about it," Jester said.
"We think of other fundamental technologies like electricity, the science of materials that support roads and buildings -- they are really important, because we would all fall down if they didn't work. But we don't think of them as really exciting leading edge areas anymore. Simply we just take them for granted. Since after all the technology that underlies IT has essentially become a consumer technology as well, it has moved into a quite different sphere. Not an unimportant one economically. By any means."
Whatever the arguments for or against, Ron Lum, IT and CAD manager with architectural firm Tzannes Associates, said he was letting his kids choose what they want to do in the future.
However, he does have a daughter in senior high school that has taken a shining to her subject called IPT (Information Processes and Technology), but Lum is not actively forcing her down that path.
He said the better thing to do is offer encouragement, regardless of the career choice.
Lum said his career came out by default.
"I studied architecture for a number of years [but] I didn't finish. I got too engrossed with working as opposed to just studying. I guess IT became a passion and therefore was my career path," he said.