Memorandum by Dr Peter Jagodzinski, School
of Computing, University of Plymouth, on the growth of e-commerce
and its relationship to skills shortages, changing technologies
and the provision of education and training in the UK
1. Aims and Objectives
2. The IT Skills Shortage
3. The Impact of Trends in Software Development
Methods on the Growth of e-Commerce
4. A Strategy for Education and Training
in e-Commerce for the UK
Annexes (not printed here):
Annex 1 Examples of Industry-orientated IT Degree
Programmes: extracts from the Plymouth University School of Computing
Annex 2 BSc Information Management Systems:
extract from the Plymouth University Undergraduate Prospectus
Annex 3 Information for Applicants to the Plymouth
University MSc in e-Commerce
Annex 4 Training and Education for e-Commerce
in the UK: application for a DfEE Innovation Award, October 1999.
This report reviews surveys of existing IT skills
and predicted shortages and surpluses (section 2), and the skills
requirements of e-commerce technologies and industry (section
3). The report concludes with an outline strategy for postgraduate
and professional training to facilitate the wider uptake of e-commerce
in the UK (section 4).
IT Skills shortage: trends and counter-trends
There is universal agreement about the rapid
growth of e-commerce. Demand for IT skills must therefore also
grow, and probably exceed supply for several years. The evidence
from the USA is that this shortfall will significantly impede
the development of e-commerce. However, there are also significant
trends which run counter to the growing skills shortfall which
should be recognised and exploited. In particular the decline
in demand for the older computing technologies liberates significant
numbers of IT professionals who, in most cases, would be well
prepared for fast uptake of the new skills. Inflated salaries
for key skills will provide strong incentives for re-skilling.
Another significant trend which runs counter to the growing skills
shortage is the increased productivity of the tools and techniques
which accompany growth in e-commerce.
Trends in Software Development Methods
Software development is not one uniform activity
which experiences one set of trends. Rather, it can be seen as
at least three very different activities, each experiencing its
own evolution in quite different ways.
(i) Business systems analysis and design
reshapes the structures, processes and human activities which
constitute the business. Skills in this field evolve slowly so
that existing staff could re-deploy quickly from declining fields
to e-commerce projects following training in the new business
models and issues ofe-commerce.
(ii) Programming takes the designs of the
systems analysts and translates them into precise, computable
codes. Skills in this field evolve very quickly as languages and
techniques change to exploit the continuing power/cost explosion
of computer hardware. A requirement for almost continuous re-skilling
is thus increasingly a feature of a career in programming. However,
many basic programming constructs are transferable between programming
languages so that such re-skilling is not necessarily very difficult.
(iii) Networking and communications skills
are needed for establishing and maintaining the infrastructure
of e-commerce. They have been in short supply since the advent
of client/server patterns of computing for organisations came
into prominence about 15 years ago, and this trend is greatly
exacerbated by the growth of the Internet.
Strategy for Education and Training
The quickest route for accelerating the growth
of IT skills for e-commerce is through postgraduate and in-service
courses. Qualifications from such courses need to include industry-accredited
elements to be widely accepted and immediately applicable by industry.
At the higher levels they should also be academically accredited
to ensure that enduring principles are taught, to secure the long
term quality of the national learning base.
1. Aims and Objectives
Many of the readily available reports on websites,
newspapers and trade journals which refer to developments and
trends in e-commerce express only broad-brush views of unfolding
events. For example:
-Computer Weekly 3.2.2000, p 1.
"Europe lags in IT skills"
"Rampant growth of e-business will create
$2.7 billion market by 2004"
-Network News 16.2.2000.
"Jobs: Internet skills buck the trend as
demand trails in 1999"
-Computer Weekly 3.2.2000 p 14.
Such reports, on their own, rarely provide more
than a superficial summary and consequently an inadequate basis
for formulating strategy. This report aims to look behind the
headlines and analyse in more depth events and predictions in
the field of e-commerce, in order to derive a rationale for addressing
the forecast UK skills shortage. The impending growth of e-commerce
is taken as a "given". The impressions and conclusions
the report expresses do not conflict with any of the sources reviewed,
but seek to correlate many separate views into a coherent picture
on which future strategy can be based.
In particular, it will review surveys of existing
IT skills and predicted shortages and surpluses (section 2), and
the skills requirements of e-commerce technologies and industry
(section 3). The report will conclude with an outline strategy
for education and training to facilitate the wider uptake of e-commerce
in the UK (section 4).
However, section 2 of the report is based on
a sparse review of easily available, low-cost public domain articles
and surveys. It does not claim to be exhaustive nor is it based
on direct evidence. Sections 3 and 4 of the report are based on
a combination of reviews of well established academic sources,
Internet sources and newspaper articles. Section 4 also refers
to examples of education and training provision and strategy,
many of which are based on practice in the University of Plymouth's
School of Computing. This is not intended to bias the report but
does reflect the fact that much of the strategy recommended here
has been put into practice in Plymouth. Several other Universities,
particularly the ex-Polytechnics, also take an industry-focused
approach in their provision of computing courses.
2. The IT Skills Shortage
Further trends in IT in the UK are often said to
be evident from current or recent events in the USA. The US National
Information Technology Workforce Convocation, 12-13 January 1998,
identified a growing shortage of IT professionals, then estimated
to be around 346,000 or approximately 10 per cent of the core
IT workforce, estimated at 3.4 million. This figure was expected
to double in the next decade (www.ices.org/national/docs/infotech/itshort.htm).
Computerworld's 4th Annual Hiring Forecast Survey
(1st March 2000) and Third Quarter Hiring Survey (4th October
1999) provides a more focused analysis of this general trend.
The survey identifies shortages in e-commerce skills in particular.
The need was clearly articulated by the Chief
Technology Officer of Petsmart Inc. in a statement which neatly
encapsulates the business problems of any company in the US or
UK which wants to engage ine-commerce:
"The shortage of people resources constantly
prevents new projects from getting work . . . Our business needs
generate a relentless thirst for new functionality. That unquenched
thirst represents losses in opportunity to expand our lead in
a very competitive business" (p 1).
The Computerworld Survey suggests that growth
in demand for IT staff has accelerated since 1998:
"Overall, IT staffs will increase by an
average of 4 per cent nationwide in the first quarter and 13 per
cent during the year" (p 2).
Computerworld also identified that shortages
caused by an overall growth in demand for IT staff are exacerbated
by much greater levels of shortage in key Internet skills. In
particular they identify:
Relational database (eg Oracle, SQL);
Microsoft Active Server Pages (ASP);
Network architecture; and
Understanding of the business philosophy underlying
e-commerce systems design is also identified as crucial and in
short supply in Computer World's Third Quarter Hiring Survey (www.computerworld.home/features.usf/all/991004).
Relevant experience is identified as having
a high priority for many employers because of the time it takes
to train inexperienced staff. The Computerworld Survey refers
to strategies which are being used by employers to acquire the
key skills. Salary and conditions competition is one obvious result.
Some companies are using in-service training to the same end,
while others, such as Petsmart, do not:
"In the dynamic environment of the Internet
our (project) needs typically range from immediate to the very
near term. We seldom have the opportunity to train or grow an
individual into a position". (p 3)
The certification of IT training is identified
by the International Data Group (IDG) as an increasingly important
factor for industry. Proprietary industry-certified training,
for example that of Microsoft, Cisco and Novell, is a means of
ensuring universally accepted standards of training. It is increasingly
becoming a requirement, and is forecast to grow into a $4 billion
industry in its own right by 2003. (www.idgcorporate.com 27.3.2000).
2.2 UK and Europe
In line with the forecast growth of e-commerce
in UK and Europe, IT skills problems are almost certain to follow
exactly the same patterns, in detail, as those in the US. The
confidence of this assertion is based on the fact that the UK
definitely, and Europe probably, use exactly the same technologies
for e-commerce as the US, if somewhat lagging behind in time.
There may be some local variation in the UK
in particular because of the Millennium bug effect. This caused
a widespread suspension of new developments in IT, such as e-commerce,
throughout 1999. Other countries, such as Italy, are reported
to have spent far less on the problem and therefore may have been
less delayed in their e-commerce growth.
The SSP/Computer Weekly Quarterly Survey of
Appointments Data and Trends (Computer Weekly 4th November 1999)
reported a continued decline in IT recruitment activity, with
23,000 fewer jobs advertised than in the same period in 1998,
as the end of the temporary peak of demand for Millennium bug
However, the same survey on February 3rd 2000
reports an increased demand for Internet-related skills for the
second quarter in succession. The survey lists the skills most
in demand for the previous quarter:
Most of this set corresponds closely with the
key skills in the US surveys discussed in section 2.1, although
they are phrased differently. The skills demands in greatest decline
in the UK are identified as those supporting the older mainframe
The SSP/Computer Weekly survey of February 3rd
2000 predicts that:
"demand will soar again by the early autumn
of this year, with Internet and e-commerce skills such as Java
and HTML at the forefront... Java, Internet and HTML have all
rocketed into the top 10 list of IT skills in demand over the
The editorial in this edition of Computer Weekly
(p 25) identifies three underlying trends in the UK IT skills
(i) The rise of a new breed of networking
professional as IT and communications technologies converge.
(ii) The survival and re-focussing of object-orientated
programming (eg C++) to support the large back-end systems which
enable organisations to integrate their core business with e-commerce.
(iii) Relentless de-skilling and shake-out
at the lower end of the profession as end-user tools, such as
Microsoft Office, become easier to use.
General statements about shortage of IT skills
abound, such as the IDG news service headline:
"Europe lags in IT Skills"
While probably broadly true, such comments can
be seen to be less helpful in understanding the detailed nature
of the problem and the possibilities for remedy.
In particular, the decline in demand for skills
in older IT technologies and programming languages may be significant.
The possession of such skills entails a working grasp of the nature
of the IT industry and at least some of the enduring principles
and paradigms of software development and implementation. People
with this background should in most cases be readily able to be
retained in the new technologies. In some cases their extensive
experience, particularly with generic underlying core business
systems, could be of great value in developing whole business
solutions for e-commerce.
2.3 Conclusions on UK IT Skills Shortage
There is universal agreement about the rapid
growth of e-commerce, assisted by a widening of the user base
through interactive television, phones and other devices more
user-friendly than personal computers. Demand for skills in business
systems analysis and design, programming and networking must therefore
also grow, and probably exceed supply for several years. The evidence
from the USA is that this shortfall will significantly impede
the development of e-commerce. Areas of particular shortage for
e-commerce skills are predicted to be:
networking and communications; and
business strategy, systems analysis
However, there are also significant trends which
run counter to the growing skills shortfall which should be recognised
and exploited. In particular the decline in demand for the older
computing technologies liberates significant numbers of IT professionals
who, in most cases, would be well prepared for fast uptake of
the new skills. Inflated salaries for key skills will provide
strong incentives for re-skilling. The nature of re-skilling programmes
and their accessibility will be examined in section 4.
Another significant trend which runs counter
to the growing skills shortage is the increased productivity of
the tools and techniques which accompany the growth of e-commerce.
Section 3 briefly reviews trends in software development methods
which impact on the growth of e-commerce.
3. The Impact of Trends in Software Development
Methods on the Growth of e-Commerce.
3.1 The Nature of Software Development
As with the IT skills shortage, the press usually
treat the task of software development as if it were a single,
homogeneous activity. They also make optimistic projections for
new approaches which claim to overcome the problems with which
the software industry has grappled for decades. However, again,
the reliability is not uniform. To put it into a proper perspective
it is necessary, briefly, to characterise the nature of software
and its development. The following quotations, from Brooks' (1995)
seminal paper, capture the essence of the problem:
"software entities are more complex for
their size than perhaps any other human construct because no two
parts are alike." (p 182)
"The complexity of software is an essential
property, not an accidental one." (p 183)
"Many of the classical problems of developing
software products derive from this essential complexity and its
non-linear increase with size" (p 183)
"I believe the hard part of building software
to be the specification, design, and testing of this construct
(of interlocking entities), not the labour of representing it
and testing the fidelity of the representation" (p 182)
"The hard part about building software is
deciding what to say, not saying it." (p 191)
In the medium to long term the value of e-commerce
will arise not from the current rash of publicly visible, over-hyped
shop-front applications, but from its ability to integrate the
"commerce value chain" (Treese and Stewart 1998) by
means of cheap, efficient and fast information routing. This will
entail in particular a high level of business-to-business transactions
across the Internet with a minimum of human intervention. Such
operations are necessarily complex involving the understanding
of incompatible data structures, processes and their transformation.
From Brooks' perspective, the main difficulty in achieving changes
in the way businesses work will be in "deciding what to say",
that is the strategic analysis, design, specification and testing
of the new business processes and models. Once the designs are
right implementing those designs by programming and configuring
software packages is relatively easy.
The foregoing snapshot of the problems of software
development for e-commerce provides some basic distinctions to
enable a brief review of evolving software development methods
and their likely contributions and effects.
3.2 Approaches to Software Development for
The design and construction of software solutions
for e-commerce applications is supported by the software market,
broadly speaking, in three ways:
(i) The analysis, design and programming
of customised software from scratch. This has the advantage, potentially,
of enabling the business to work exactly to suit its own specialised
requirements. However, the approach is time-consuming, expensive,
highly dependent on having suitable staff and therefore risky.
(ii) Purchase of an existing off-the-shelf
package. This may look attractive but doesn't overcome the need
to conduct the analysis and design of the business models first.
The software industry has a long and unhappy history of companies
mistakenly being sold such packages and then unrealistically trying
to force their incompatible business structures and processes
into the new model dictated by the bought-in package.
(iii) Purchase of a configurable toolkit
(eg Microsoft's Site Server 3 Commerce Edition), augmented by
other bought-in packages (eg SQL or Oracle Database). Again, this
approach can only be successful if it starts with analysis and
design of business systems to ensure that the bought-in packages
will support the way in which the business wants to work. Tailoring
of detailed functionality normally entails the use of specialised
Web-orientated languages and techniques such as Active Server
Pages (ASP), Java and Extended Mark-up Language XML. In addition
whole functions such as catalogues, shopping cart operations,
security and payment functions may be bought-in as reusable software
components and assembled to work together.
The third approach of selectively combining
and tailoring reusable software seems to be gaining considerable
ground over the other approaches for e-commerce software development
because for the majority of applications it is technically of
low risk and, commercially, adaptable to most business needs.
The concept of reuse of existing software components
promises substantial gains in the productivity of programmers
and is supported by systems architectures and standards such as
the Component Object Model (COM) and Common Object Request Broker
Architecture (CORBA). However, reusability in itself is not a
panacea and must be preceded by proper analysis and design, appropriate
development methods and different development team structures
(Jacobson, Griss and Jonsson 1997(a) & (b)). Furthermore,
it necessitates a different model of the process of software development
as an integration exercise in which different software components
are assembled together within an overarching framework, rather
than the traditional model which focuses on the creation of new
software ab initio.
What we see here is a continuation of the long-term
trend in software development for languages, tools and techniques
to evolve which reduce "the labour of representing it (the
system design) and testing the fidelity of the representation"
(Brooks 1995 p 182). Programming languages and techniques evolve
rapidly to take advantage of continuing leaps in hardware power
per pound. This trend has been going on since the evolution of
second generation programming languages from binary code, and
will undoubtedly continue, (and to great effect), requiring a
culture of lifelong learning with ever-shortening cycle times.
This has long been accepted as normal within the profession.
However, this does not address what Brooks identifies
as the hard part of the software development process, that is
"specification, design and testing of this construct (the
interlocking business entities)." Techniques for the rigorous
analysis and design of business systems evolve more slowly as
the focus of their attention is on business and other human activity
systems where the pace of change is relatively slow. One notable
trend is the departure from the technically-centred stance of
the 1960s which assumed that careful, rigorous analysis based
on business data structures and processes alone could produce
designs which would be "right-first-time". It is now
recognised that the analysis and design of business systems needs
to be more human-centred and to proceed progressively by means
of incremental prototyping until an acceptable design is achieved
(Preece et al 1994). This style of analysis and design
is greatly facilitated by object-oriented programming languages
such as Visual Basic which enable prototypes to be built cheaply
and quickly, tested with the users and then interactively reworked
into improved versions. Nevertheless, data and processes still
have to be modelled rigorously at some point in order for them
to be mapped onto the databases and programmes which constitute
the software system.
3.3 Conclusions on the Impact of Trends in
The foregoing characterisation of software development
shows us that it is not one uniform activity which experiences
one set of trends. Rather, it can be seen as three very different
activities, each experiencing its own evolution in quite different
To summarise, business systems analysis and
design, characterised by Brooks (1995) as difficult, looks outwards
from the computer to the structures, processes and human activities
which constitute the business. Its function is to translate ill-defined,
real-world problems into well-defined forms which are amenable
to computing. Skills in this field evolve slowly so that existing
staff could re-deploy quickly from declining fields to e-commerce
projects following training in the new business models and issues
Programming, characterised by Brooks (1995)
as relatively (and increasingly) easy, takes the designs of the
systems analysts and looks inwards to the computer, translating
the designs into precise, computable codes. However, skills in
this field evolve very quickly as languages and techniques change
to exploit the continuing power/cost explosion of computer hardware.
Typically programmers now have to be able to integrate and adapt
programme code in four or five languages, especially the newer
Internet languages. New models of the reusable software development
process also have to be learned. A requirement for almost continuous
re-skilling is thus increasingly a feature of a career in programming.
However, many basic programming constructs are transferable between
programming languages so that such re-skilling is not necessarily
In many organisations, particularly small and
medium enterprises, systems analysis, design, programming and
project management for e-commerce may all be carried out by very
small teams or even individuals, taking advantage of packages
of configurable and reusable software. The leaders of such projects
would need a broad grasp of most of the identified technologies
and skills as well as the business models of e-commerce.
Networking and communications skills are not
a direct part of the business software development process. Nevertheless,
they are technically key to the creation and maintenance of the
infrastructure on whiche-commerce runs. There is a growing need
for people who are fluent with the complex layers of communications
protocol which lie between the business software and the network
hardware. This field has had a skills shortfall since the universal
adoption of client/server models of business and organisational
computing about 15 years ago, and the problem is exacerbated by
the growth in Internet computing. Technologically-driven change,
although probably not as fast as that in programming, necessitates
continuous updating for networking and communication practitioners.
These distinctions between trends in systems
analysis/design, programming and networking/communications have
important implications for the design of strategies to address
projected UK IT skills shortages. An approach to these strategies
is considered in section 4, following.
4. A Strategy for Education and Training in
e-Commerce for the UK
4.1 Enabling Industry through Education
The strategy outlined in this section is based on
the analyses of sections 2 and 3 and is intended to be of general
applicability throughout the UK. However, most of the examples
given of initiatives and course designs are based on current practice
in the School of Computing at Plymouth University. This is not
intended to bias the report but simply reflects the fact that
much of this strategic view has been enacted here in a local way.
The potential importance of e-commerce to the
UK economy and the global nature of competition viae-commerce
lend real urgency to the need for rapid expansion of national
capability. This urgency also mandates that sufficient education
and training provision must, above all, be industry-focused in
terms of its immediate applicability and its accessibility. The
latter need is, in general, well known. In 1998 feedback from
the UK Committee of Professors and Heads of Computing identified,
once again, continued pressure from industry for academic computing
programmes to be more industry-focused. In the HEFCE funding plans
for 2000 to 2002, David Blunkett MP has referred to the need for
universities to "accelerate the development of vocationally-orientated
elements within all courses together with improved careers guidance
These are clear messages for the design of educational
provision. However, in the realm of e-commerce industry too is
accused of lacking foresight. Ian Taylor MP in January 2000 wrote:
"In this country, £2 billion a year
is already being transacted online. In Europe generally, the Internet
market could grow to US$430 billion by 2003 from about $19 billion
today, according to Andersen Consulting. Furthermore, European
online business could grow in this period from below 20 per cent
to 60 per cent of the value of the American market. Though 73
per cent of CEOs in the United Kingdom (UK) think electronic business
(e-business) will significantly reshape their industry, 75 per
cent of UK companies have no e-business strategy. The UK risks
losing out because of lack of awareness of how and why new technology
needs to be applied." (Taylor, 2000).
This view suggests that there is a crucial need
not just for IT skills education and training but also for high
level e-commerce strategic awareness-raising in the UK's board
Thus on the one hand there is a reported lack
of preparedness for e-commerce in industry and on the other hand
a perceived lack of relevance in the provisions of education to
In view of the urgency of the need for growth
in e-commerce this suggests that some form of national education
and training initiative may be desirable in order quickly to mobilise
education providers to address industry needs in the field of
Such an initiative should start with an analysis
of industry's short and medium term needs for embarking on e-commerce.
That analysis should then drive the provision of immediately applicable
education and training in methods and techniques for the implementation
of e-commerce systems. Provision needs to be locally accessible
throughout the UK, probably via the Higher Education sector, in
collaboration with providers of industry-accredited training (eg
Microsoft, Cisco, Novell), by means of franchised courses and
distance learning, primarily in short course format which can
be taken "in-service" by existing staff as well as by
those re-deploying and re-skilling from other fields. (One such
initiative, an unsuccessful bid to the DfEE in 1999, is outlined
in Annex IV.)
Qualifications from such courses certainly need
to be industry-accredited to be widely accepted by, and immediately
useful to, industry. They probably should also, at the higher
levels, be academically accredited to ensure that enduring principles
are taught, thus securing the long term value of the national
4.2 Identified Needs in Education and Training
Section 2 analysed the forecast growth of the
IT skills shortage as it affects the development of e-commerce
in the UK. It showed that the IT skills shortage is not uniform
but differentiated across a number of the sub-tasks within software
development. It also showed that there are effects, such as the
reduction in demand for IT skills based on older technologies
and improved productivity, which run counter to the general shortage
trend and which can be exploited relatively quickly to reduce
shortage. It identified the particular skills which are likely
to be in short supply and highlighted the importance of industry
accreditation for training.
Section 3 framed IT skills in the context of
their contribution to software development and its long term evolution
and identified variations between different skills within the
IT industry. It then looked at evolving methods of software development,
for example reusability, which seem to offer productivity gains
which may ameliorate the IT skills shortage but also need training
to be applied effectively. These issues have all been reviewed
from the pragmatic perspective of industry rather than academia,
and to this end we have also identified the importance of certification
in enabling universally-accepted industry standards of skilled
performance in the technologies that underpin e-commerce.
4.3 A Generic Model of Education and Training
to meet Industry's Needs in e-Commerce
4.3.1 Undergraduate Courses
Typical industry-orientated sandwich degrees take
four years to complete, clearly too long to be of immediate relevance
to the urgent needs of e-commerce. Nevertheless, some continuous
incremental changes in the design of degrees is possible, for
example the provision of industry-accredited training elements
in practical topics. Offering this material to undergraduates
in the years before they go into industry could make their contribution
significantly more immediately applicable. Industrially-focused
courses at this level are vitally important for the long term
in providing the bedrock skills and knowledge of the UK's IT workforce.
With a strong base of such graduates it becomes relatively easy
to accommodate new trends and directions in IT based industries.
Such trends are necessarily only incremental on pre-existing technologies
and can easily be accommodated by the well-grounded computing
graduate, particularly in a culture of lifelong learning.
Four distinct areas of undergraduate provision
can be identified as relevant to the present and likely future
of needs of the IT industry including e-commerce.
(i) Business computer systems analysis, design
and programming (An example is given in Annex I, the BSc (Hons)
(ii) The overlap between computing and communications.
(An example is given in Annex I, the BSc (Hons) in Computer Systems
In addition, on the periphery of IT:
(iii) The overlap between the creative arts
and computing, including interactive television, needed to bring
UK's advantage in the creative arts to the e-commerce marketplace.
(An example is given in Annex I, the BSc (Hons) MediaLab Arts).
(iv) The overlap between business management
and IT, the so-called "hybrid" business IT manager.
(An example is given in Annex II, the BSc (Hons) Business Information
4.3.2 Postgraduate and Short Courses
Minimum turn-round time for a Masters programme
is 12 months. If such programmes are offered in the form of a
sequence of short courses, optionally leading to lower qualifications
(Post Graduate Diploma or Certificate), then they can effectively
deliver highly focused learning within a few months. The IT industry
has an unconventional career structure in which graduates and
non-graduates from many disciplines can, after a few years experience
in the industry, be equally valued and equally able to claim to
be "IT professionals". Many academic degree subjects
now include some programming which can provide an entry into the
IT industry through some additional training. Industrially-focused
post-graduate programmes can take account of this diversity by
means of Accreditation for Prior Learning (APL) and Accreditation
of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL). This approach, combined
with short-course delivery formats, can make such programmes highly
flexible in meeting the re-skilling and redeployment needs of
the industry and individual within IT.
This relevance can be further enhanced by the
inclusion of industry-accredited technical training courses, probably
incorporated into practical sessions, as part of the diet. By
this means the training is assured universal industry recognition
and the equivalence of taught skills, as well as immediate applicability
in an industrial setting.
Emerging from the analysis of the IT skills
shortage and the nature of software development in sections 2
and 3, the following list identifies areas of need in postgraduate
education and training provisions:
Overview of strategic business issues
for e-commerce to enable systems analysts and designers to accommodate
new business models and whole value chain business concepts.
Business systems analysis and design
for e-commerce including electronic payment, escrow, and trading
models such as auctions.
Applications programming for Web
applications, incorporating the current state-of-the-art languages
and tools; (expected to change annually).
Communications and networking technology
and techniques to support implementation of networked systems
including security, integrity and privacy mechanisms.
Database design and implementation
(currently relational) to support business data structures.
Integrated development environments
to cover reusable software development platforms and techniques;
(expect to change annually).
Practical training: integrated proprietary
industry-accredited training modules leading to recognised certification
eg Microsoft Certified Solution Developer (expect to change annually).
Marketing issues for e-commerce:
taking business advantage of Web capabilities and the global economy.
Annex (III) contains an outline of a particular
instance of this generic model, an MSc in e-Commerce, which is
planned to start at the University of Plymouth School of Computing
from September 2000. Unlike most Masters level courses, this Plymouth
programme has not emerged from a research background (although
other Masters programmes in the School do have that provenance).
Instead it has been enabled by the University policy of supporting
spin-out companies, co-owned with groups of academic staff. One
such company is engaged in e-commerce software development, and
it is that which has provided the confidence and commercial focus
necessary for the design of a course specifically aimed at addressing
the urgent needs of the e-commerce industry.
Although not strictly in the domain of IT skills,
the quotation from Ian Taylor in section 4.1 showsthat there is
also a need for more strategic level business-orientated e-commerce
education and training,such as the Carnegie-Mellon University
Masters programme in e-commerce (seewww.heinz.cmu.edu/project/ec/hb/lectures/module.html).
e-Commerce education could be seen as a continuum from business-focused
to IT-focused, with individuals opting for combinations of topics
from both sources to meet their own perceived career needs and
the opportunities of the job market.
Journal and Book References
1. Brooks FP (1995) The Mythical man-month
Addison-Wesley. Reading, Mass.
2. Jacobson I, Griss M & Jonsson P (1997)
(a) Software reuse Addison-Wesley, New York NY.
3. Jacobson I, Griss M & Jonsson P (1997)
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11 April 2000
Annexes not printed here. Contact Plymouth Unversity