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Ed Frauenheim


A school of thought says techies more than ever must develop soft skills. But it may be hard for many tech pros to get those skills on the job, according to a new report.

The study, released Wednesday by staffing firm Robert Half Technology, found that 47 percent of chief information officers polled said they do not offer their information technology staff training in nontechnical areas such as leadership, communication, project management and business fundamentals. The survey included responses from more than 1,400 CIOs from a sample of U.S. companies with 100 or more employees.

“Managers faced with an immediate need for technology expertise and limited budgets for professional development often opt to support technical training rather than invest in building soft skills, which they may perceive as less critical,” said a statement from Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half. “However, instruction in business, management and communication can greatly enhance the team’s productivity as well as their ability to collaborate on solving everyday challenges such as improving efficiency and competitiveness.”

Picking up skills in nontech areas like business basics is also seen as a key for U.S. tech professionals to stay employable in an era of so-called offshoring, which refers to the flow of high-skilled jobs from the United States to lower-wage countries like India and the Philippines.

Linda Cohen, an analyst at research firm Gartner, has called on universities to shift their emphasis from pure computer science to management and business skills, such as how to finance technology operations, how to supervise partnerships and how to assess the risks of adopting a cutting-edge technology.

And technology services employers these days want more than the programming chops of software developers–they’re looking for business smarts as well.