IT Skills Gaps are Real and Really Affecting Business

by Amy Carrado | Mar 12, 2012

Is there an organization that is perfectly content with the level of skills and expertise their employees possess? Doubtful, but for both good and bad reasons. Given today’s unforgiving competitive environment and the skills needed to effectively support ever-changing technology, an overarching gap in IT skills is no surprise. As the data in CompTIA’s State of the IT Skills Gapstudy echoes, a vast majority of employers (93%) indicate there is an overall skills gap, the difference between existing and desired skill levels, among their IT staff.

Skills Gaps in IT on the RiseUnfortunately, nearly 6 in 10 companies report being only moderately close or not even close to where they want to be with IT skills. Interestingly, the distribution of results aligns with where the organization lies on the technology usage curve. In other words, gaps in IT skills are likely hindering companies’ optimal utilization of technology and presumably hampering utmost business success.

CompTIA’s recent study identifies the most important skills to be around the “IT foundation” such as networks, servers, storage, security, database / information management, and help desk / IT support. And the greatest areas of concern for gaps in IT skills are again related to those core IT areas. However, emerging areas of business process automation, mobility, collaboration, and virtualization will require sufficient skills as well. See related findings in the Robert Half survey highlighted in this article about CIOs struggling to find IT talent.
As implied earlier, a company’s shortfall in IT skills is likely to impede on other areas of the business. While it would be difficult to measure direct costs or opportunity costs, a majority (80%) of employers point to at least one specific business area affected by their organization’s IT skills gap. Top areas impacted are staff productivity (41%), customer service / customer engagement (32%), and security (31%).

What are the underlying causes to IT skills gaps? For nearly half of the organizations represented in the CompTIA study, it’s the nature of the business – technology changes so fast, it’s difficult for IT workers to stay current with skills (46%). For others, it’s the ever-present issue of not being able to afford to allocate enough resources to IT (43%). A considerable portion struggle with IT education / training not sufficiently translating to workforce performance (39%).

The good news is that most organizations (57%) are attempting to address IT skills gaps among their staff via training. Many recognize training staff is an investment and less costly than other methods such as hiring new employees or outsourcing. And online self-study, or eLearning, is the most popular method used by companies for IT skills training, followed by instructor-led and vendor-provided training.
CompTIA’s State of the IT Skills Gap study was developed with input from a survey of 502 U.S. IT and business managers, as well as input from more than 500 managers in Canada, Japan, South Africa and the U.K. All data was collected December 2011 - January 2012. The full report is available at no cost to CompTIA members. Visit CompTIA.org or contact research@comptia.org for details.

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