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IoT Skill Set Leads with Communication, Not Tech

Communication is far and away the most relevant job skill for engineers to have for success with the Internet of Things. The ability to explain ideas and concepts "clearly and effectively" beat out "knowledge" about IoT (59 percent compared to 20 percent), collaboration skills (14 percent) and "persistence" and "associative thinking" (both at 3 percent), in a survey of IEEE engineers.

The survey was done by Northeastern University-Silicon Valley, which recently queried 537 members of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) about issues facing the fast-growing field for IoT.

The largest segment of respondents said their top choice for training would be traditional classroom learning over online instruction (40 percent vs. 27 percent), an "informal bridge" for obtaining "skills on-the-go" (12 percent), on-the-job training (10 percent) or technical boot camps (10 percent).

Most survey participants reported that the technical skill they're most interested in acquiring is design and integration (54 percent), closely followed by data communications (49 percent) and cloud management (42 percent).

When it comes to jobs, the hottest skills identified by the engineers were anything related to systems design (50 percent), networks and protocols (42 percent) and data analytics (40 percent).

The emphasis on soft skills supports the growing need for human skills over technical strengths in computer science, said P.K. Agarwal, CEO and regional dean of Northeastern University-Silicon Valley, in a prepared statement. "The IEEE survey results clearly demonstrate that introducing change and developing new products requires a change agent with strong communication and collaboration skills," he noted. "As a result, more people from diverse career backgrounds should consider retraining for successful roles in growth sectors such as IoT, artificial intelligence and machine learning."

The Silicon Valley "hub," which opened in March 2015, is one of four campuses maintained by Northeastern University. The site is co-located with Integrated Device Technology, a company run by a Northeastern alum. The other locations are Charlotte, NC; Seattle and Toronto.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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