Although Windows 98 is replacing Windows 95 and Microsoft is advising skilled Windows 95 staff. business to move on to Windows NT Workstation for their desktop operating system needs, there is still climbing demand for skills in Windows 95.
Figures produced by the MMS Recruitment system, which tracks all job advertisements in IT publications, show a 24% increase in the number of published vacancies asking for Windows 95 support skills, compared to last year.
The main source of this growth comes from PC support and helpdesk roles where the number of jobs requiring Windows 95 have at least doubled since last year.
Joseph Cairns, principal consultant with AmBit Technology, an IT recruitment specialist, said that he believed there was sufficient install-base in the business environment to keep skills in demand, but to get the best opportunities out of your skills it is necessary to specialise. "If you're still in Windows 95 then the best thing is to let people know if your skills go down to registry level," he said. "Roll-out used to be sexy, but they have become too standardised to be much in demand now."
Demand for skills in Windows 95 will continue into the millenium, according to Julie Hunter, education and vendor manager with Ilion Faculty, an IT training and consultancy firm. "Many companies still need to support DOS and Windows 3.1, so demand for skills in Windows 95 is likely to continue for some time," she said. "Companies tend to stick with what they know and trust, so over the last 3 years Windows 95 has become a standard that people will be reluctant to move away from."
However, demand for developers and programmers in Windows 95 has been dwindling, with the number of analyst programmer jobs falling from 126 last year to 29 this year, according to the MMS figures. This signals a decline in the market for Windows 95 skills that job applicants should observe, according to Ian Nelson, head of permanent recruitment with QA Myriad. "Those requiring skills in Windows 95 will start to diminish over the next 12 months," he said. "So people with these skills really need to be thinking about upgrading them over the next 12-18 months."
Fortunately, the path for moving from Windows 95 to Windows 98 was a relatively smooth one, since the two operating systems rely on very similar technology, Nelson said. However, there would still be demand for skills in Windows 95 in specific real-time applications, such as data collection from a factory floor, or applications running on both Windows 95 and Windows NT, according to Nelson. "Where these applications are critical to business there will still remain a need for in-depth knowledge of Windows 95," he said.
Another challenge to Windows 95 comes from NT according to Cairns of AmBit Technology. "Windows 95 will go into demise because of the move towards NT workstations," he said. "Luckily the two operating systems are pretty similar, in look and functionality, so it is possible to transfer your skills. The best way to get this transfer recognised it to get yourself on a Microsoft Certified Professional training course. However, there will still be support needed for Windows 95 as many companies will continue to run a mixed environment for some time."
The MMS figures also show that 32% of the jobs advertised asking for Windows 95 skills specified salaries of between #20,000 and #30,000 a years, although 32% did not specify the money on offer.
More jobs for Windows 95 were available in the home counties than any other UK region, and most jobs paying more than #40,000 a year were on offer in London and the West Midlands, according to the MMS results.
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