As email and other information services migrate to the cloud, colleges’ information-technology employees are spending less of their time running complex in-house systems and more helping faculty members and administrative colleagues—as well as students—make the most of services provided by companies like Google. That shift puts a premium on the employees’ “soft skills” in communication, relationship building, and project management rather than on technical expertise.
That’s one finding of a report, “Today’s Higher Education IT Workforce,” based on a survey of more than 2,000 people by Educause, the education-technology organization. The report was written by Jacqueline Bichsel, senior research analyst in Educause’s Center for Analysis and Research, is currently available only to members of the Center for Analysis and Research.
The report includes detailed data on the demographics of colleges’ IT employees, as well as broad information on median salaries—which, the report says, are similar to what IT professionals can make in other sectors of the job market. It notes that while survey respondents said they were sensitive to whether they were being “fairly compensated,” how highly they were paid was less important to them than enjoying a good quality of life.
Staff members are more likely to feel good about their jobs if their work has been recognized with some kind of reward, the report notes: “It does not appear to matter what form the rewards take. Pay raises, more advanced job titles, or special public recognition (especially when such recognition is documentable) are all viewed as value recognition and are likely to increase job satisfaction.”
Less encouraging were survey respondents’ forecasts. More than half of chief information officers who completed the survey “do not believe their institution’s economic situation will improve in the next three years,” the report says. Nor do they “see a rosy outlook for hiring in the near future.”
Correction (2-4-2014, 9:20 a.m.): An earlier version of this article mistakenly said the report was available to the public free. It is available only to members of the Educause Center for Analysis and Research for the next five months.