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Understanding the IT Skills Gap

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Understanding the IT Skills Gap


Given the continued advancements in IT innovation, the skills gap is widening rapidly. This places more pressure on organisations, as they need to rethink their workplace strategies.

While the concept of the skills gap may be straightforward, there are many nuances regarding its bigger picture. We investigate these nuances and issues, helping you tackle the IT skills gap effectively.

Key Factors of the IT Skills Gap

Skills gap is somewhat of a trending term, describing a variety of workforce issues. At its most basic level, a skills gap can be defined as the difference between the performance employers want from their staff and what their staff are able to deliver. Things become confusing when the discussion of the skills gap ventures into other workforce challenges. These other challenges include the: pipeline gap, pay gap, labour supply gap, or generational gap. For example: what an employer may consider a skills gap may be a difference in generational work styles.

Most businesses or organisations do not have a formal strategy in place to address the skills gap issue. Organisations have reported numerous consequences attributed to skills gaps, from lower sales and staff productivity to absences of new product developments. This impacts the bottom line negatively, yet only 1 in 3 organisations have a formal process in place to rectify the issue itself.

The biggest issue regarding the skills gap is the cybersecurity skills gap. The world is defined by inter connectivity and issues in cybersecurity are currently the biggest business threat. Organisations rank data security as the most vital cybersecurity skills gap, and this reflects the growing importance of data through every industry sector of the economy.

Business and Technology

IT professionals and business executives believe that technology plays a key role in attaining business objectives. Technology is usually a chief factor in reaching strategic objectives and goals and, according to a study by CompTIA, only 2 % of organisations believe technology to be a non-factor in this regard.

Initiating new systems or processes to enhance efficiencies should be a business priority – in fact, 55% of businesses believe this to be a top priority. Imagine how much a business could gain in innovation, productivity, and revenue if they took greater advantage of technology!
Hiring skilled employees to drive strategic objectives is also another priority, and the role of technology is not separate to that of the role of employees.

They certainly go hand in hand and need each other to reach greater levels of success.

Current State of the Skills Gap

Most businesses report that the skills gap in their organisation has grown in depth and scope over the last 2 years. The concept of the “skills gap” is most prevalent in the IT industry. IT businesses and organisations with more than 15 IT employees are more likely to see a significant growth in skills gaps.

As technology develops and changes, there is a need for employees and businesses to keep up. This is because a gap in skills will hold a business back from reaching greater levels of success. More than half of businesses have reported lowered employee productivity because of skills gaps.

The IT Industry and the Skills Gap

Delving deeper into the IT skills gap, 8 in 10 business executives and IT professionals are concerned with the skills gap at their organisation.

CompTIA did an in-depth assessment of the situation and have listed the type of businesses that are most concerned with the skills gap.

These are:

  • Companies in the IT industry
  • Firms where tech plays a primary role to business
  • Organisations with over 100 employees
  • Organisations with 15 or more IT employees
  • Managing the IT Skills Gap

    Most business executives and IT professionals are concerned that workers are lacking in advanced skills. However, this concern can be addressed through training efforts that focus on specialised topics. Almost all organisations offer some support for professional development and training, or continue education for their IT employees to ensure they are up to date.

    The main concern regarding the skills gap, as mentioned previously, is the cybersecurity skills gap. The key skills gaps in relations to cybersecurity include: traditional security safeguards (antivirus software and firewalls), data security, and cloud security.

    It is important for businesses to focus on existing workers and upping their skillset. This relates to short-term self-interest, but it does make sense considering the segment of organisations struggling to keep up with the skills gap challenge.

    Another strategy named in addressing the skills gap issue in the IT workforce, is the need to apply better approaches to allow candidates to gain work experience and on-the-job training. There has been renewed interest in apprenticeships, and this is something new to the IT industry.

    So, what are the best strategies for addressing skills gap challenges, specifically in the IT workforce?

  • Internships for on the job experience
  • Apprenticeships to provide intense job training
  • Early learner exposure to careers in IT
  • Certifications to validate knowledge and skill set
  • Better methods/assessments for evaluating skills
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