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Building a Workforce for the Information Economy
successful job performance. However, as noted earlier, the IT sector (as well as work in many IT-intensive industries) is characterized by rapidly changing jobs in a rapidly changing business environment amidst rapidly changing technology. Under these circumstances, it is understandable that IT employers may not have as formal a set of standards for employee selection as they might have in a more slowly changing sector. Nonetheless, IT employers are expected as a matter of law to have standards that are job-related and nondiscriminatory. Moreover, less formal employment standards are precisely the circumstances that lead unsuccessful applicants to fear that they are the victims of adverse actions that are based on something other than their qualifications.
Future Trends in Assessment of IT Workers
Because of the difficulty of assessing future job performance in a fast-changing industry, and because job postings often draw very large responses, some IT employers are turning to outside vendors to assist with recruitment and hiring. As noted above, a large number of online job-matching services are now available to both employers and jobseekers.
In addition, online assessment and certification of several different types of computer hardware and software skills are growing rapidly. These certification systems are particularly well developed for skills and knowledge related to support and maintenance of computer hardware and networks. For example, the Tek.Xam assessment examination measures technology and problem-solving skills within the technology environment. The Tek.Xam is Internet-based, vendor-independent, and delivered online in a proctored computer lab. According to its creators, individuals certified by the Tek.Xam can “synthesize and analyze data, draw conclusions, and present those conclusions using a variety of common computer applications. They can create websites and can effectively use the Internet for information gathering and analysis. In addition, they understand a wide range of computer concepts related to networking, hardware and software as well as the key legal and ethical issues associated with the use of this technology.”33 Primarily a test for mastery of computer applications, the test is useful chiefly to certify individuals who are “management trainees in production, finance, marketing, customer service and human resources; webmasters and help desk personnel in IT; research assistants, project managers, analysts, and consultants.” In general, the test seems directed at individuals applying for positions that “do not require candidates to have a specialized degree in engineering or