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

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Respondents recognized the adverse affects of insufficient IT skills at their organizations. 41 percent said it hurts staff productivity; 32 percent pointed to a hit on customer service and engagement; and 31 percent said it led to security holes. Further, 34 percent of IT companies said the skill gap hindered the speed of getting newer offerings to market; smaller companies linked a lack of IT skills to a drop in profitability.

As for the causes of IT skill gaps, 46 percent of respondents blamed fast-changing technology, which makes it difficult to IT workers to stay current with skills. Forty-three percent of respondents said the gap stemmed from a lack of resources for IT skill development. Nearly 40 percent opined that IT education and training was not sufficiently translating to workforce performance. Additionally, 29 percent of respondents said that IT pay was too low in certain areas to attract employees to fill the gaps. For smaller companies, lack of resources for education and training was a significant contributor to the gap.

How, then, can organizations go about closing the IT skills gap? One approach would be for organizations to implement a formal process with which to identify skill gaps before they become a detriment. As it stands, 56 percent of organizations said they had no such process in place, while another 29 percent said they had an ad-hoc process.

Another solution is for executive management and HR to give the IT skills gap problem closer attention. As it stands, 64 percent of respondents with business functions said HR and management gave enough attention to the IT skill gap problem. By contrast, 42 percent of respondents with IT functions said HR and execs are not paying enough attention to the problem. CompTIA's perspective: "Clearly efforts are concentrated elsewhere when employers should try to focus more on their employees; their most valuable asset, after all. Those in IT management are especially feeling the neglect."

Among common themes from respondents, business management fails to recognize the importance of IT as it relates to the organization's overall strategy; management does not provide adequate funding and resources; management doesn't understand how much time is necessary to IT professionals to stay abreast of IT trends and learn new skills; and management doesn't understand the underlying complexity to deploy and maintain a given product or service.

Once management and HR grasp the important of closing the IT skills gap, they should consider training existing staff as a less-expensive alternative to hiring new employees or outsourcing. As it stands, 57 percent of respondents said training or retraining staff would be their strategy to closing the skills gap. 38 percents said they would go with outsourcing or contractors; 28 percent said they would hire new employees.

As for training methods: 50 percent of respondents said they used online self-directed training. Forty-percent said they went with vendor-provided training. In-house, in-person training was an approach of choice among 38 percent of respondents; 36 percent had the in-person training conducted externally. Another 30 percent embrace conferences and workshops as a place for training, whereas 17 percent had IT staff complete college coursework or pursue an advanced degree.

This story, "What tech skills gap? Train your workers," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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