What tech skills gap? Train your workers

IT professionals are feeling the pressure to boost their tech skills, but they aren't getting the support and resources

IT professionals can expect increasing pressure from management to learn new job skills as cloud and mobile computing gain traction and new cyber security threats emerge. Unfortunately, those same IT pros can't reliably expect much in the way of assistance from their employers to get that training.

A new research report, "State of IT Skills" by CompTIA, found that around 9 in 10 business managers see gaps in workers' skill sets, yet organizations are more likely to outsource a task or hire someone new than invest in training an existing staff. Perhaps worse, a significant amount of training received by IT doesn't translate to skills they actually use on the job -- savvy IT pros might need to invest their own time and resources in training for the sake of job security.

Not all is bleak in the report. The study points to the fact that organizations strongly appreciate IT's valuable role in business, even if upper-level executives and HR personnel don't understand the underlying complexity of learning, deploying, and maintaining new technologies.

In general, according to CompTIA's report, which is based on responses from IT and business managers at 502 U.S. companies, 93 percent of organizations acknowledged an overall skill gap among their IT staff -- that is, the difference between the existing skill levels and desired skilled levels. Further, 60 percent of respondents reported their organization's IT skills being not close or only moderately close to where they wanted.

The biggest gaps were in the following areas:

  • Networks infrastructure (LANs, WANs, and so on)
  • Server and data center management
  • Storage and backup
  • Help desk and IT support
  • Cyber security
  • Database and information management
  • Data analytics and business intelligence
  • Web design and development
  • Virtualization

Areas where respondents had fewer concerns about skill gaps include:

  • Mobile devices
  • ERP
  • Big data
  • Printers, copiers, and multifunction devices
  • HTML
  • SharePoint
  • Search engine optimization
  • JavaScript
  • SaaS
  • Mobile application management, development, and so on
  • PHP
  • Linux
  • Apple devices

Those lists tell only part of the story, as they incorporate responses from organizations of all sizes. Breaking outthe findings a bit, larger organizations are placing more importance on skills pertaining to virtualization, SharePoint, ERP, big data, cyber security, telecom, and A/V. Smaller firms are more focused on skills pertaining to SEO.

Another point of comparison: IT companies place relatively higher importance on such skills as big data, application development, Web design and development, mobile development, Linux, and cloud computing. Non-IT companies, meanwhile, are most interested in skills pertaining to telecom, printers and copiers, and A/V.

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