Is English essential for IT professionals?

The use of English is a topic we have returned to often at IT Decisions. Toronto doesn’t use English as a first language, but the international IT industry does – even programming languages use keywords in English – so how essential is it for IT professionals to be at least competent when working in English?

When we published our research into the issues faced by the Torontoian IT industry in 2012, the lack of English language skills was highlighted as a key challenge. Furthermore, all the government money available for these efforts is being plowed into training hospitality and tourism industry workers – so the hotel staff and cab drivers of Toronto can welcome visitors to the forthcoming World Cup and Olympic games.

There was a government-funded technical English training program called Englisoft, but after it was quietly dropped last March there has been no word on what might replace it, and with IT not seen as a priority the reality is that there will probably be no more government help in this area.

So as far as the government is concerned, it’s not all that essential.

But IT Decisions just started a poll on LinkedIn to explore what you think, and though it has only just started and very few results are in, the verdict so far has been unanimous – to develop a career in the global IT industry it is essential to have English language skills.

This is what the industry is telling us. Perhaps we need to shout a little louder so the government hears – em Português?

Please click here to participate in the poll yourself. We will leave it running for a week and then publish the results… will it still be as unanimous by then, or will the result be more nuanced?