Top tips to overcome IT skills shortages

New business models and challenger brands are emerging, which all require specific skill sets to deliver digital transformation. As a result, never before has the race to acquire and retain scarce IT talent been so intense.

However, as organisations increasingly look to capitalise on growth opportunities from transformation and digital technologies, they face a widening talent shortage that further complicates the situation.

In fact, recent research revealed that 40% of employers globally are having difficulty filling jobs. This represents the highest talent shortage since the beginning of the economic downturn in 2007.

A critical issue is that the demand for IT skills outpaces the worldwide growth in this talent pool.

For example, our research found IT personnel jobs are the second hardest to fill globally.

>See also: Solving the developer shortage: is the digital skills gap a myth?

In response, employers are increasingly focusing on learning and development opportunities for existing employees to fill open positions.

Last year, just one in five employers were prioritising learning and development to plug skills gaps, but this year, that number has more than doubled to over half.

This has risen at both a global and UK level, bringing learnability – the desire and ability to learn new skills – to the fore, to help people become and remain employable throughout their career.

To nurture existing employees and further their development within the organisation, businesses should take the following steps:

Nurture the ‘teachable fit’

Employees won’t always have all the core credentials and technical skills required for the role they’re hired in.

Look to nurture individuals with the aptitude and enthusiasm to learn new skills, and give them the freedom to experiment with new technologies and platforms to further their development.

>See also: IT skills severely lacking

This isn’t about fast-tracking certain individuals’ careers, but more about giving them the opportunity to fit specific roles within a company.

Recognise that there’s no silver bullet for training

IT employees at different levels want – and need – vastly different kinds of training.

For instance, recent graduates will need to grasp the basics; younger workers may need to be skilled up in legacy systems and others might need to complete a specific certification such as CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional).

Some employees will prefer classroom-based training while others will favour online learning.

Organisations need to view each element of their talent shortage, and then craft a training strategy that aligns with individual requirements.

Facilitate knowledge sharing

Implement a flexible and scalable workforce solution both now and in the future.

This will often include a mix of employees including perm, short-term contractors and employed consultants, as well as off-shoring and outsourcing.

>See also: The STEM skills gap on the road to closing?

Having people from a range of backgrounds enables businesses to bring in a variety of skills and transfer knowledge between people at different times.

Provide continuous opportunities to up-skill

Support and encourage IT professionals to continually up-skill. This can be done both internally and externally.

For example, offering individuals the chance to work on different types of projects across the business to widen their understanding, as well as complete the latest industry-certified courses.

All this needn’t be a complicated or expensive process – a lot of the skills that IT professionals already have are easily transferrable.

>See also: Solving the STEM conundrum: how to bridge the skills shortage

As talent shortages escalate and skills cycles shorten, employability now depends less on what individuals already know and more on their ability to learn, apply and adapt.

By adopting a flexible workforce and approach to training and development, organisations can work with their existing employees to mould their skills and knowledge to fit the required roles. This opens up brand new talent pools.


Sourced by Geoff Smith, managing director, Experis UK & Ireland

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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