When you buy application software, services, or other technology from a vendor, or when you need to recruit skilled staff for senior roles, you may wonder what education is the relevant background for such positions. With skilled staff in seemingly perpetual short supply, what type of educational background is likely to inculcate the relevant skills? A new course may have some of the answers.
As with many walks of life, education is only part of the solution – but it can be an important part. A US educational establishment, Carnegie Mellon West University – an offshoot of the main university that has been based in Silicon Valley since 2002 – has just announced that it intends to offer a masters degree course in software management, starting in autumn 2007. This will be a two-year, part-time course, that takes in selected graduates with business experience as well, and helps to develop their skills.
The course has been developed as a step on from existing masters courses in software engineering that Carnegie Mellon offers – it already has some 150 students within existing tracks that are covering some of what the new masters course will offer. Participants are likely to come from technology companies, both providers and users of technology.
The idea is to help boost entrepreneurial skills, by bringing together teams to solve particular problems. This sounds a little like the TV show The Apprentice, but perhaps it is rather more realistic! It will combine technology and business acumen; as a demonstration of this, the students need to write a business plan at the end which is pitched to venture capitalists – and some of these pitches may well result in new business ventures.
One of the problems that this course is likely to face is that a lot of the students will not reside permanently in the area – some may well return to their home country for a period of time, or may be expected to travel on business. This has been considered upfront, and collaboration techniques such as teleconferences and web seminars are being used to help overcome distance – and, of course, learning how to make such remote collaboration work will stand the students in good stead in the future.
Building solid relationships with customers and clients can be achieved remotely, but only if the parties concerned work at it and genuinely collaborate, rather than what usually applies at present.
Many organizations are complaining about the lack of skilled staff, yet few are willing to actually help to educate and develop staff appropriately. Courses like this may help to push the highest levels up a step. It will be interesting to see if the model can be reproduced elsewhere.
Source: OpinionWire by Butler Group (www.butlergroup.com)