THERE is as serious skills shift in the ICT arena and as such you must gear yourself to change with the ever changing field. You remain static you will be irrelevant like the postman and his postage stamp.
New skills are required that are globally in demand and not just in Zimbabwe. Stop thinking locally, but globally acquire skills that can be acquired locally, but are internationally relevant. This has a direct impact on our businesses, small and large corporations alike.
They must stay abreast with all the ICT developments in whatever industry they are in for them to stay relevant or they will cease to exist. Information is power. This article is not only for career seekers, but businesses as well to re-train their staff and stay ahead of the game, yes.
Career guidance in any field be it in journalism, medicine, law, social sciences, arts, engineering, music, ICT or any other, plays a very pivotal role in shaping one’s success or failure in a chosen field. So many variables come into play when one has to decide on which career to pursue. And well this is an area where educationists will give you the best advice as to the metrics that are used to help someone decide which path to take.
What you decide to do invariably takes into consideration the following issues, the remuneration, job security, your ability, peer pressure, but most importantly passion. So whatever is the driving force behind your choice make sure you chose something that you will enjoy to do and will also put a meal on your table.
Before you decide to pursue any ICT career ensure that you are computer literate in the true sense of the word. In that you are comfortable in finding your way around the systems, text editors, spreadsheets, the internet and the basic hardware that makes up the components. This brings us to the basic ICT competency certification -ICDL.
ICDL — International Computer Driving License programmes are for anyone who wishes to become fully competent in the use of a computer and common applications. Computer skills enable people of all ages to understand and use technology to improve their personal and professional lives. This is why we urge both the Ministry of ICT and Higher Education to make it mandatory for all students who enroll in institutions of higher learning must leave the institution with accredited ICT qualification. Surely how does a nation expect to have ICT literate community and deploy e-gov, e-commerce, e-health when graduates from our colleges and universities know no more than browsing, googling, typing assignments and apping! There are several private institutions in Zimbabwe as a whole who offer this course.
Networking — Cisco Certification. Computer networks are connected via different means in the true sense of the word. Signals may travel over a pair of twisted copper wire between 2 end points; signals may use light (fibre optics) to travel across continents. More commonly and very familiar to the reader is the use of wireless technologies which is one of the greatest leaps in technology — no wires. These are in the form of different sections of the electromagnetic spectrum from microwave right to x-ray. Different providers are allocated different slots on this wide spectrum and this comes with a licensing fee — save for Wi-Fi!
Now networking as a career prepares a student to be competent in the way information (data packets) from point A to point B. It is in networking where decisions are made as to which physical medium to use to send a signal. Very crucial things are learned in networking as they follow certain set of standards and protocols to effect end to end communication and connectivity. These are rules that govern how devices communicate. Pursuing a course called Networking+ can bring you up to speed into understanding how data travels in networks. Stopping with the networking course only is not good enough and you are advised to pursue Cisco Certifications. Cisco is a company based in San Jose, California that makes networking equipment as their core business. So to support the market they had created Cisco came up with Cisco Certifications. These are top notch certification. It is advisable to go beyond the basic CCNA (associate) and go for CCNP (professional) and ultimately for gold the CCIE. It is very important to understand that certification alone without any hands on experience are not good enough.
Internet telephony and IMS – These are very disruptive technologies that will forever change the way we communicate in terms of voice, images video and instant messages. The core skills you want to acquire here assume you are pretty proficient in basic programming languages and networking. But the key protocol used in internet telephony otherwise known as VoIP is called SIP – session initiation protocol. SIP skills are in demand, but few. I learnt SIP in 2000 while still at Telco Internet.
Cyber security specialist. We live in a world where protecting data bytes are as important as protecting one’s physical home and office. As more and more people gain access to the digital world so do criminals. This is one hot area where bad guys are always coming up with different tricks and viruses to compromise and even defraud the unsuspecting Facebook user. There is great demand for security experts. You must learn open source systems like Linux. You must be daring. You must be prepared to spend long hours reading, testing, validating, stress testing, reverse engineering, cracking encryption (legally) amongst other things. Your job will vary depending on the task at hand and the requirements of your client. But in general it will include some vulnerability assessment testing to see if an organisation has exploitable loopholes known and unknown. Other tasks on those networks that you are working on include carrying out sniffing and spoofing tests.
Sniffing is a passive security attack in which a machine separate from the intended destination reads data on a network. Once the data is read it is then sent elsewhere for analysis. Your job once you find this loop hole is to plug it. Whereas spoofing is an active security attack in which one machine on the network masquerades as a different machine .It “pretends” to be a certain machine on your network. Spoofs are now common even in Zimbabwe where you get a text message claiming to be from a certain number a bank but it has been manipulated to confuse and defraud the victim. Spoofing is more common in emails but now it has been extended to voice calls. I can call you from your own number. Meaning I can manipulate the originating digits to reflect your own.
Other skills in this field of expertise include reverse engineering, password cracking, and forensics technology amongst others. There are very few certified digital forensic experts in Zimbabwe. Which means once a computer crime is committed the prosecutor has the burden to prove his case as digital data is not so admissible unless the forensics is carried out by a certified, competent and qualified expert. More people are using smart phones. More crimes are being committed via these phones but there are no mobile forensics experts ?
Robert Ndlovu can be contacted on 0776002605, firstname.lastname@example.org
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