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The State of Upskilling: Tackling the IT Skills Gap

The State of Upskilling: Tackling the IT Skills Gap

The IT skills gap has been an ongoing problem for digital businesses for several years. According to Pluralsight’s recently released State of Upskilling report, the largest IT skills gap has been identified in cybersecurity at 43%, closely followed by cloud computing at 39%. The lack of relevant candidates is only partially to blame, as businesses often fall into the trap of employing those with the same skills rather than branching out, resulting in the gap growing year after year.

An easy solution for businesses is to provide further high-impact training to their employees. Through the use of ongoing training, employees can regularly identify opportunities to upskill. Ensuring employees are aware of the program and can progress in their careers is a win-win as the organization can work to close the skills gap without wasting valuable time and money.

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The Challenge

Companies of all sizes are having difficulty filling open positions with workers who have the necessary technical skills. And, although the demand for workers with technical and digital skills has grown quickly, suitable talent is in short supply. Those who are hired are often offered inflated salaries and, in some cases, their necessary skill sets become obsolete, forcing many companies to lay off large swathes of the workforce to balance the books during rocky periods.

A  recent example of this is Facebook.

The company culled a large amount of its workforce by hiring other employees and wasting its budgets on IT specialists whose technology they specialize in becomes obsolete or lesser to a new form. This resulted in redundancies across the company and draining the salary budget.

A research study involving more than 1,000 business executives found that organizations are having trouble finding the right candidates because of the skills gap and that the educational system is not doing enough to address the issue. According to the study, 75% of organizations believe the main reason for the difficulty in hiring is the lack of applicant skills. However, 51% claim that the educational system is either making little to no progress or doing nothing at all to address this.

The rate of technological change is a primary contributor to the IT skills gap. The pace of technological advancement is accelerating in the current digital era. To remain relevant in their industry, IT professionals must constantly learn new things and improve their existing skills. 

More people are needed to help businesses maintain and optimize their use of ever-evolving technology. Many businesses are pursuing digital transformation initiatives only to discover that these initiatives are inherently dependent on hiring people with the appropriate skill set. As a result, there has been a sudden rise in demand for IT skills in recent years. And the supply has simply not kept pace with the rate of change.

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Upskilling and Reskilling

Companies will continue to struggle to find qualified IT candidates in the absence of a strategic plan for the IT workforce. There is immediate inefficiency when positions are left unfilled, but there is also collateral damage. Attrition increases as employee morale declines. Therefore, businesses run the risk of losing current talent.

So, what steps are businesses taking to close this gap?

Short-term solutions include increasing the use of contract and temporary workers, outsourcing current projects, training and developing the current workforce at a rudimentary level, and hiring at scale to fill skills gaps. In the long run, businesses must implement comprehensive strategies and procedures to both recruit new talent and keep hold of existing talent. 

Another aspect of the IT skills supply-demand gap is how organizations have responded to this crisis, including how they utilize their current HR resources, hire the best talent to match the appropriate functional requirements, and keep up with the rate of technological transformation. In a recent survey of 750 hiring managers, Salesforce discovered that to keep up with the changing nature of the IT talent market, transformative workforce development strategies are required.

According to the report, new hires will not be able to fill the talent gap on their own. According to 55% of respondents, the talent shortage will worsen, and 58% believe that in order to provide the current workforce with the necessary new skills, transformative novel workforce development methodologies will be needed. The World Economic Forum claims that the emergence of new technologies is causing a rise in skills instability. The relevant skills today may not be entirely sufficient tomorrow. According to the report, 54% of IT workers will need to significantly reskill.

Bridging The Skills Gap

Businesses face a significant challenge as a result of the IT skills gap, with cybersecurity and cloud computing being the most severely affected fields. Businesses must take responsibility for their hiring practices, which frequently favor applicants with similar skills and fail to diversify their workforce, even though the lack of qualified candidates is a contributing factor.

Businesses must prioritize offering high-impact training initiatives that enable workers to advance in their careers. Initiatives for upskilling and reskilling employees, like apprenticeships and certification programs, can improve their performance and knowledge, allowing them to take on new IT roles.

However, it is crucial to recognize the greater need for passion within the IT field. Employees who possess a genuine interest and enthusiasm for technology are more likely to embrace continuous learning and upskilling opportunities. By fostering a culture that nurtures passion, businesses can create an environment that encourages employees to improve their pre-existing skills and stay abreast of technological advancements.

Companies can close the skills gap and guarantee a skilled and adaptable workforce by putting proactive measures in place, such as extensive training programs, strategic partnerships, and a focus on cultivating passion within the IT workforce. In addition to filling the current skills gap, adopting a mindset of ongoing learning will prime businesses for success in the rapidly changing digital landscape. 

Employers will benefit from upskilling and retaining their current employees by saving vital time and money. With efficient training and passion for their career, retention within the business will flourish.

[To share your insights with us, please write to sghosh@martechseries.com]

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