RFID Skills In Demand, Survey Says

The number of individuals skilled in radio frequency identification technology (RFID) continues to fall short of demand, according to a survey of solution providers, consultants and systems integrators conducted by the Computing Technology Industry Association of America (CompTIA). To better meet the needs of both public and private sector customers demanding the technology, companies need to devote more time and dollars to training and education, the study found.

The survey was conducted in the first two months of 2006. Of the 80 CompTIA members that responded, 43 percent serve the government market in some capacity. Given legislation that requires the incorporation of RFID technologies into driver's licenses and passports, in addition to widespread use of RFID chips in the Department of Defense and civil agencies for cargo transport and identification management, the opportunity for solution providers to offer such solutions is clear. According to the survey, however, there aren't equipped to do it.

"Sixty percent said that the biggest challenge is overcoming initial hurdles associated with implementation and [enabling] interoperability," says David Sommer, vice president for electronic commerce at CompTIA and head of the association's RFID initiatives.

Beyond the tags and hardware, RFID requires expertise in radio frequency, physics, interference and other areas not inherent to those skilled in information technology. In addition to implementation and integration, 50 percent noted training and education as a top challenge; 59 percent said winning customers seeking the solutions was difficult.

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"A lot of investigation is going on, with companies watching what's happening out there," Sommer says.

Those companies that manage to get up to speed on the technology won't necessary be those that hire the expertise, but rather invest in the education required.

"Training and education is the first step for anyone interested in seriously getting into this market," Sommer says. "RFID requires unique skills; it's not just an extension of other areas of IT."