The skills gap is widening and companies don’t know what to do

The IT skills gap is getting bigger and bigger and companies are struggling to close it. 

That is the assertion made by trade association CompTIA in a new report that has found that nearly half of executives believe skills shortcomings have grown over the past two years. Of the 600 interviewed, 38 per cent say the skills gap has lead to lower levels of customer services and engagement, with a third saying that a gap in skills has had a detrimental effect on their business through either lower sales or profitability. 

Something of a comfort to the IT industry might be that while advanced skills in emerging areas such as AI, IoT, Cloud infrastructure and cybersecurity are a big issue, this is a skills gap that spans across the board. Executives also reported skills issues in areas such as marketing, sales and business development, operations, customer service, and accounting and finance.

“The ‘skills gap’ is often a catch-all phrase for other workplace challenges, such as a labour supply gap or generational differences in work styles,” said Charles Eaton, CompTIA’s executive vice president for social innovation and CEO of Creating IT Futures. “But whatever the cause there is clearly a wide chasm between the skills employers want and their perception of the skills their workers have.”

Like Eaton says, talking about the skills gap is a bit of a buzzword term, but it can have a serious effect on staff productivity and sales numbers along with potentially causing delays in bringing new products and services to market and losing ground to competitors. 

But the most frustrating part of all is that only one in three organisations actually has a formal process in place to address the challenges of the skills gap. 

“More than half of organisations acknowledge they struggle in identifying and assessing skills gaps among their workforce,” said Amy Carrado, senior director, research and market intelligence at CompTIA. “Knowing what to fix must precede discussions of how to fix it, and to fix it soon. The breadth and pace of innovation point to a widening skills gap, putting further pressure on organisations.”

While we live in a very exciting time in technology with revolutionary changes happening regularly, the level of IT education is not keeping up. Ultimately it will be down to a combination of organisation-driven processes, government initiatives and curriculum changes in order to ensure that the UK’s workforce is not left behind by innovations in technology.

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