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What tech skills gap? Here's what employers want from grads

Four years of college and you're ready for that new job. Too bad your future employer is concerned about a tech skills gap. Better polish those writing and speaking skills.

Everyone knows there's a tech "skills gap" for software developers and others. But here's what you don't know:...

According to a recent survey from PayScale, the most important skills missing in new tech graduates weren't programming languages, but instead the abilities to write, speak in public and problem solve.

If you're surprised -- and maybe even shocked -- you're not alone. Lydia Frank, senior director of editorial and marketing at PayScale, said the company went in to the survey with the belief that they'd hear the usual "colleges aren't prepping grads with enough tech skills" complaint. Instead, employers are most troubled, she said, about the lack of soft skills like communication. "The takeaway from this survey is that you really do need a well-rounded liberal arts education, even if you're going to be a software developer," she said. "You need to be able to write a good email and make a good presentation in front of other people."

PayScale surveyed over 14,000 recent graduates and nearly 64,000 employers to gather work preparedness and tech skills gap information, Frank said. A full 60% of employers said recent grads are missing problem-solving skills, while 44% want better writers and 39% think public speaking skills are absent. They don't stop there -- 44% of employers also said new grads lack ownership and leadership skills, while 16% cited a lack of curiosity as a problem.

Of course, the grads have a somewhat different view of themselves. A hearty 87% of new graduates surveyed believe that they're well-prepared (by graduation or no more than three months later) for the workforce -- there's no serious tech skills gap in their minds. But only 50% of their employers agreed with that statement.

And when it comes to tech skills, the PayScale survey showed the more cutting edge and expert your knowledge, the more likely you'd get a raise compared to a colleague in a similar position without that skill. Know Scala and expect your salary to jump by 22.2%. Other hot skills include Go (a 20% pay increase), Hadoop (12.5%), iOS SDK (11.4%), big data analytics (10.7%), cloud (10.4%), Android SDK (9.3%), Selenium test tool (6.7%) and Groovy (6.2%).

The fact that all these tech skills are relatively new points to another trend Frank noted in the survey: the need for employees to continually push themselves to learn new things. "The big takeaway is that what you learn for your job doesn't end when you graduate," she said. "You have to continue to grow your skill set if you want to advance."

And if you've ever wondered what not to put on a resume, the PayScale survey has the answers. In the technology area, you never want to put "data entry," "system repair," or "Dreamweaver" on your resume if you really want the job. Those skills -- considered common "foundational" skills that everyone should have -- are the kiss of death, the survey showed.

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How important do you think writing and speaking skills are for software developers and testers?
The first two premises of Rapid Software Testing essentially say that software projects are relationships between people, and each project occurs under conditions of of uncertainty and time pressure. Writing and speaking skills are very important for developers and testers so that they may mitigate that uncertainty and foster those relationships through effective and timely communication.
Language - written and spoken - is incredibly beautiful and rewarding in itself. Not jargon-laced tech-speak, but real standard English (or whatever your language may be) has the power to entice, excite and inform, sometimes all at once. Words explain your work. And you. It would be a shame to take all the time and effort to learn a wide array of languages, but lack the skills to communicate your knowhow. You leave English out at the risk of your career.
Amen, says the English major :). But somehow I think this information may come as a surprise to some folks who think it's all about the tech skills. Don't you have colleagues who feel that way?

Yes, they're critically important. No, not so much.
It's a paradox, but a solvable one a long run.

First, expressing yourself is a complex skillset with degrees of mastery.
Second, human beings are only capable of [relatively] slowly developing skills though practice. And they can't practice many skills at once.

Young people need to learn many things. Yes, technical skills are important. And so is speaking and writing. And also getting into romantic relationships, and many other skills.

When we get older..

"One can for example, hire mere technical ability in engineering, accountancy, architecture or any other profession at nominal salaries. But the person who has technical knowledge plus the ability to express ideas, to assume leadership, and to arouse enthusiasm among people-that person is headed for higher earning power." ~ Dale Carnegie
I think that these skills are extremely important to anyone interested in moving into a lead or management role. That said, there are plenty of manager in IT with really poor "soft" skills, but putting some effort into developing these skills can really make you stand out. 
Very important. How can you convey your ideas in terms that others can understand without these skill. I can really see some issues evolving due to technology. People using acronyms when on-line or texting or sending tweets. This shortened form of communication may not be understood by all parties.
As a hiring manager in IT, I’m not surprised at all.
We can't afford workers to choose to work in a vacuum.

I am so weary of having to hide my programmers in the back room because they can't read or write or communicate with our clients in standard English. As long as they stay hidden, far out of sight, I suppose they'll do fine. Perhaps they're happier working behind closed doors, but advances will be slow and tortuous for them.

Just as math is a required course for English majors, English (and reading and writing and civics) need to be mandatory for tech majors. 
So, NCBERNS, who does the communicating for them with your clients -- you? Do you find that slows things down? Are the tradeoffs worth it? Just curious...
@Norman - are your programmers native English speakers?

I'm asking for clarification as someone who didn't really write or speak English 10 years ago. But I did get my first IT job after moving to Canada. Work environment helped me learn faster and I didn't stop there. However, as I know, many immigrants do stop at a minimal level of communication and it didn't prevent them moving up in the technical ranks.