Are You Managing the IT Skills Gap?

The IT skills gap is real, prevalent, and your business is probably feeling it already. A survey of 600 professionals in the United States conducted by CompTIA has yielded new data on what the gap looks like and how well (or poorly) businesses are addressing it. Does your business have a viable strategy to close the gap?

The Only Gap Closing Is the Retailer

Incidentally, one reason the skills gap is so problematic is because its definition is getting broader. To some businesses, the skills gap may not refer to just a narrow prospect pipeline, but also to pay gaps, location gaps, and even generational gaps. In any case, only one-third of businesses have a formal strategy to close their gaps, and 54 percent of businesses have a hard time identifying their gaps in the first place. Worse yet, 46 percent believe the skills gap is still growing.

From where does the skills gap originate? These are the top reasons agreed upon in the survey:

  • Too many workers lack advanced skills.
  • Segments of workers are falling behind.
  • Workers of different generations have different aptitudes.
  • K-12 schools and colleges are not sufficiently preparing students for today’s jobs.

A skills gap in the business incurs many unfortunate effects. Half of respondents find that it at least lowers staff productivity. About a third also find that it lowers levels of customer service, hurts profitability, slows speed to market, and makes it difficult to conduct proper cyber security.

Where IT is concerned, gaps are especially prevalent in the areas of emerging technology (like Internet of Things), integrating platforms, cloud infrastructure, digital transformation, cyber security, software development, and data analytics. In other words, gaps exist almost everywhere. Yet interestingly, IT is not the department suffering the worst from gaps in the study. Marketing, followed by sales/business development, actually comes out slightly ahead of IT when it comes to gap problems.

The study cites these areas as the most common ways that businesses are combating the skills gap:

  1. Better ways to provide on-the-job experience, such as internships
  2. Better ways to provide intense job training, such as apprenticeships
  3. Early student exposure to careers in IT
  4. Certifications / credentials to validate skills and knowledge
  5. Better assessments / methods for evaluating the skills of job candidates

Furthermore, e-learning, workshops, and webinars are encouraged as the top ways for IT staff to bolster their skills.

Are any of these tips going to magically fill up every vacant seat you have in your business? No. But they are critical first steps that must be taken now rather than later, or else the current generation of workers in your business could be the last.

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