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Blue Skies Thread, IT Support - are we underselling ourselves? in General; @ CyberNerd : But is that because it is 'easy' or because of your experience, skill set and mind set? ...
  1. #16

    TechMonkey's Avatar
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    @CyberNerd: But is that because it is 'easy' or because of your experience, skill set and mind set? Bet not everyone could have been put infront of that hardware and that book and have a working, efficient and properly configured system at the end. Or even with an acceptable time period.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CyberNerd View Post
    Think of it this way - there is nothing in MS land that is more difficult than reading a manual. One book and you know exchange, one book you know AD etc..
    A very simplistic view IMHO. So if I read a couple of books on Physics I'm a physicist?
    Maybe I'm just thick but it took me a bit more than just reading about it to get to grips with AD, GP etc.
    Also, you are missing the point that most people don't WANT to do this sort of thing so no, there aren't that many people doing it.
    I think part of the low pay is definitely related to age. It is often youngsters - 16-25 who start fiddling with computers and so their salary expectations are low. Also because they are keen they tend to shoot themselves in the foot by doing far more than the job actually entails, thus leaving the school presuming that you can pay 15k and get someone whose skills are very high level.

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    My opinion is that to people outside IT, Windows IS just a case of pressing next!
    We all know that is far from the truth often (has anyone NEVER had an update commit self destruct on a system? not often but boy what a mess!).
    It's like our Principal, My boss got asked 'what does he do'?
    His reply was well do you know even how to turn on the server?
    when everything is going smooth, then people do not even think of you. When TSHTF, then all of a sudden it's all your fault!
    lol
    BTW I moved some stuff over to Linux servers and have had far less trouble with them then I have ever had with IIS!
    Alan

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    Quote Originally Posted by TechMonkey View Post
    @CyberNerd: But is that because it is 'easy' or because of your experience, skill set and mind set? Bet not everyone could have been put infront of that hardware and that book and have a working, efficient and properly configured system at the end. Or even with an acceptable time period.
    It goes back to what I said - its easy to setup and then monitor its not easy to then fault find within the system which is where IMHO the experience plays its part.

  5. #20

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    But are we saying it is easy because we have the skillset and experience to do it. As someone else said, anything is easy if you know how to. Do you think you could grab Joe Public off the street, give him a book and tell him to get on with it? Would you do that? If not the it isn't easy. It requires a skill. This, I imagine, is part of the problem. We see it as easy to don't assign much value to it.

    The other side of the coin is people are used to managing their home computers so have the attitude, how hard can it be.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TechMonkey View Post
    But are we saying it is easy because we have the skillset and experience to do it. As someone else said, anything is easy if you know how to. Do you think you could grab Joe Public off the street, give him a book and tell him to get on with it? Would you do that? If not the it isn't easy. It requires a skill. This, I imagine, is part of the problem. We see it as easy to don't assign much value to it.

    The other side of the coin is people are used to managing their home computers so have the attitude, how hard can it be.
    I put 3 work ex kids (who were only with me and they didn't have any other placement) no real interest in IT and gave them an old box and switch and a desktop and a windows disk - said install that and create a domain - 4 user accounts and make a group policy to map a drive onto that machine which needs joining to the domain.

    4 hours later they came back having done it - and although I wouldn't of expected it to take 4 hours they did it without and real guidance (apart from the raid config).

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    Quote Originally Posted by witch View Post
    A very simplistic view IMHO. So if I read a couple of books on Physics I'm a physicist?
    No- that's the point - you need a physics Ph.D before you'll likely to get any sort of employment as a physicist and because there are relatively few people with this sort of knowledge so the salary is higher.

    Quote Originally Posted by TechMonkey View Post
    But are we saying it is easy because we have the skillset and experience to do it.
    Yes - and lots of people have this skillset and experience.

    I'm really not trying to belittle our chosen careers, it's just NOT an in demand job given the number of people who can do it with little or no qualification.

  8. #23

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    It depends on the level of experience & industry you work in and which country you are based in. It also depends on how the product is being used. I know it's got a little easier over the years, but for e.g Exch isn't just next, next, next and finish. However, some admins have the same knowledge as another UK admin but are based in "cheap labour" companies. This is similar to where you are located in the UK, Different area's different pay.

    I believe it's down to the individual to set pay expectation, and if not met, then decline.

    There isn't nt even a handful of employers I know that will recruit a person who has just read a book and installed a DC or Exch. You need to know your stuff. The only competition I see is the cloud or "cheap labour" countries, IMHO.

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    There is a difference between doing something and doing it with distinction, whether you choose to base your sysadmin skillset around Windows, Linux, Solaris, OS X (supposedly even easier to administer than Windows but still a b*gger when it falls over), or in the mainframe market like AIX.

    It's true that Windows sysadmin skills are among the most common in that job market, but it's also true that the majority of SMBs will use Windows (at least on the desktop). Certainly the majority of schools do as well. Are there more people because there are more jobs, or is it vice versa? I imagine it's probably both.

    If you Next > Finish your way through Windows networking, you're not getting the most out of it. I've achieved a level of automation (image deployment, software installation, backup management etc.) here with Windows - through Group Policies, batch scripting and Auto-It - that frankly you're not going to get with anything else, and that means the system just runs itself most of the time (isn't that the American Dream of sysadminning?) so I'm freed up to focus on the strategic side and work with the curriculum staff to achieve the best from their technology. It might look easy to keep it going now... but that's only because of the phenomenal effort it took to get it there. When I first got here there was an average of 50 jobs on the Helpdesk all the time and we had a couple of Win2K3 tower servers that fell over every few hours or so, with XP on the desktop.

    Now we're a fully-virtualised Win2K8R2 + Win7 shop that largely runs itself with an average of 0 jobs on the Helpdesk... but that's only happened through years of work (as Technician then NM) that's far beyond the Next > Finish level (not being arrogant, jus' sayin'). So put bluntly you can Next > Finish your way through administering a Windows network, yes, but you're using very little of its potential to free you up for the rest of the role if you do. At the end of the day, there's a reason why the "green and keen I-can-regurgitate-MCITP-textbooks" types aren't as well regarded as people with actual experience. Simon Travaglia likes to talk about this... :P
    Last edited by Ephelyon; 8th March 2013 at 10:13 AM.

  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by CyberNerd View Post
    No, because people happily go for the jobs. If there was a skills shortage the price would go up.
    I would say this is only partly true, YES, there is ALOT of people looking for IT jobs and ALOT of people out of work at the moment, but at the same time, NO, I'm sorry but they are taking the lowest wage for this this role and giving it to anyone and with the technology improving every single day, IT Techs jobs are getting hard and harder day by day, we are getting asked to do more than was on our current contracts and IMHO, other people don't realise how important we are to schools/industries, near enough all GCSE/controlled assessments all have to go through computers nowwa days and sales all go through computers at industries.
    My position is Operational Support Assistant, which is basically, I do a bit of everything and anything here, from maintaining the server with the credit card checks on to following orders and checking stock and I'm currently on a low wage myself

  11. #26

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    There has never been sufficient visibility into our roles to allow executives and higher-up HR types (or in a state school setting, the Local Authority) to gain a decent insight into exactly what it is we do, what we know, and what we're responsible for.

    As long as we continue to be seen as merely putting into place other people's plans (which is only half the picture); as long as we are seen as merely supporting rather than actually doing; and as long as there is insufficient perception of our duties and responsibilities (such as having access to everything, which I class as a workplace hazard as it dramatically reduces your plausible deniability in law); then none of that will change. And as @witch says, yes, a lot of us go in younger and through the self-taught route so we accept lower-paid jobs and then stay in them for a variety of reasons.

    But work is underway... @TrevorGreenfield is still working to set up an Association as referenced on page 2 of this thread. @GrumbleDook and I have attempted contact with the BCS (one interested response from their Director of Membership so far) and I'm interested in working with organisations like QA and the FITS Foundation to create a career entry and progression framework. Other things we can do in state schools include applying for a review of our job spec - I've done that and gone up a grade, plus it allows you an ample opportunity to sit down with SLT and really go through everything you do. I have oodles of resources on how to go about that if anyone is interested.

  12. #27


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    Quote Originally Posted by Ephelyon View Post
    There has never been sufficient visibility into our roles to allow executives and higher-up HR types (or in a state school setting, the Local Authority) to gain a decent insight into exactly what it is we do, what we know, and what we're responsible for.
    Why should they want to? HR types are interested in the market. They can look at job adverts and from that, they can get a reasonable idea of the going rate. And when they put adverts out at that rate, they WILL get applicants, some of whom are likely to be suitable. Other senior managers will be interested in outcomes - not the detailed X,Y and Z required to deliver those outcomes. If they do have to worry about the detail, then they have bought a dog but are still having to do the barking. Some may not mind that, but the good ones will!

    IMO most underpaid schools technicians aren't doing themselves many favours. A school is a fantastic environment for acquiring a broad operational skill set with depth in areas of pretty much your own choosing. The real value of that to the technicians is it's marketability. But to capitalise on that you have to work in a school for a few years and then MOVE ON. In fact, in most jobs if you want to move up the pay scale the way to do it is to MOVE JOBS every few (2-3) years. That's not what I see happening in Schools where IT support staff stick around forever. Maybe, despite complaints about low pay, pay just isn't the most important factor for them.

  13. #28

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    I'd say it's more apathy than anything else. To be honest what I'd like to see more of is sector-wide reforms to make staying in school IT and becoming this concept of the "educational technologist" much more attractive to people in our position. That way, we get better employment opportunities here and the schools get to benefit from very experienced technical staff who have broad skillsets when they enter a new role (as opposed to just when they leave it) and who may also have picked up a passion for education, i.e. the uses of the technology in this sector and not just the technlogy itself. Everybody wins then, but I'm afraid it'll cost more than they're offering at the moment.

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    If it will cost more, then surely not everybody can be said to win? Schools would lose as they are forced to pay more and young under qualified folks would lose as the entry bar is raised beyond their qualifications.

    And wouldn't it just be pandering to apathy?

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    As I've said in other threads, the school would be reinvesting the money back into T&L in a different way. A more sustainable way, as opposed to the shinies they could otherwise have spent it on. At the moment schools are not winning with their IT anyway a lot of the time, because they don't train their staff up to do the tasks they want from them. So this is about making that situation better and moving some money around (not pulling it out of thin air) so that they're spending the amounts on staffing that they should have been spending anyway from Day 1.

    Also, no, the point of the framework is that it covers suitable career entry points all the way up to Strategic ICT Management posts at SLT-level.

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