The technology association, CompTIA says organisations are now acknowledging they have widening skills gaps within their workforces, but many are struggling to find solutions to narrow the gaps. Nearly half (46 per cent) of the 600 executives surveyed for the report "Assessing the IT Skills Gap" believe skills shortcomings within their organisations have grown over the past two years.
Skills gaps are not confined to technology alone, the surveyed revealed. 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."
The consequences of workforce skills gaps can affect many areas - lower staff productivity, lower sales and profitability, delays in bringing new products and services to market, and losing ground to competitors. Yet just one in three organisations said they have a formal process and resources in place to address their skills gap challenges. The remaining companies reported having only an informal process or no process at all.
"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, 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."
The speed of innovation is one of the biggest challenges companies face in keeping their employees skills up to date, a challenge that show no sign of abating.
"Organisations testing the waters with the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, robotics, and other emerging technologies face even greater skills gaps due to the fast-moving nature of these innovations," Carrado noted. "It takes time for training materials to reach the market and for opportunities to gain hands-on experience to arise."
When asked about strategies for addressing skills gap challenges within the workforce pipeline, companies emphasised the need for better approaches for candidates to gain work experience and on-the-job training. The top five strategies cited include:
1. Better ways to provide on-the-job experience, such as internships.
2. Better ways to provide intense job training, such as apprenticeships.
3. Early student exposure to careers in IT.
4. Certifications and credentials to validate skills and knowledge.
5. Better assessments and methods for evaluating the skills of job candidates.
"Assessing the IT Skills Gap" is based on data collected through an online survey of 600 business and technology executives. The survey was conducted in February 2017.