IT Skills Gap Appears to be Growing, Finds CompTIA survey

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A skills gap frequently exists between what employers want from their IT workforce and what workers can actually deliver. Out of 600 executives surveyed, 46% believe the gap has gotten worse in the last two years.

Despite that, most organizations — two out of three — lack any formal strategy to address the gap, according to Charles Eaton, CompTIA’s executive VP for social innovation. “Whatever the cause, there is clearly a wide chasm between the skills employers want and their perception of the skills their workers have.”

That’s one of the main conclusions of a recent skills gap survey by CompTIA, the Information Technology Industry & Association. CompTIA includes 2,000 technology producers and distributors, including Arrow, Canon, Intel, Rackspace, Red Hat and Samsung. CompTIA’s 11-page report on the survey, Assessing the IT Skills Gap, was issued June 26.

Over half of those surveyed “acknowledge they struggle in identifying and assessing skills gaps among their workforce,” said Amy Carrado, senior director, research and market intelligence, for the association.

Attempts to address the skills gap often founder on “knowing what to fix, which must precede discussions of how to fix it,” she added. The pace of change and ongoing innovation in a broad set of technologies is creating the gap, she said.

Organizations are jumping into big data capture, artificial intelligence and machine learning, the Internet of Things and robotics, and they are finding their IT staffs are struggling to make sense of the data generated. Innovation is occurring quickly on all those fronts and staffs haven’t necessarily had time to retrain or gain hands-on experience before they’re expected to produce results.

Implementing new systems or work processes is the top priority of two-thirds of the large firms included in the survey. For small firms, those with 10 or more employees, hiring skilled workers to drive strategic goals is the top priority, and number two priority of the larger firms. Overall, 55% of those surveyed said they needed to implement new systems; 47% said they needed to cultivate new ideas and innovate; 44% said they needed to hire skilled workers to drive strategic goals; 43% said they needed to launch new products and services.

The skills gap does not represent an overwhelmingly negative assessment. On the contrary, the role of technology keeps increasing in importance, making filling business needs an upward moving target. Fifty-eight percent said their organization had an acceptable vision and strategy but there remained “room for improvement,” with 22% saying they excelled in that area; 21% said there was “lots of room for improvement.”

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