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Better ways to close the IT skills gap

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There is a growing skills gap in the technology industry which, if not addressed, can cause serious consequences for your organization.

Technology continues to develop at an unprecedented rate and IT professionals are required to stay current. However, the reality is that keeping up can be challenging. There is a growing skills gap in the technology industry which, if not addressed, can cause serious consequences for your organization.

“It’s common to hear from our clients that they have job opportunities opened for months and months. Some companies prefer to wait and deal with the lack of staff than hire unskilled IT professionals”, stated Alan Deery, Director, New Horizons Ireland.

The skills most valuable from the market perspective are not being provided by colleges to young students entering the jobs market. “Even though, some of those skills are absorbed through out the work experience, almost all of them, we teach daily in our our courses here. We work closely with our clients building the skill pipeline that they need to achieve their goals”, said Deery, which also related the increase of IT Pros investing in certification themselves to take control of their career.


What is the IT Skills Gap

The IT skills gap refers to a lack of technical skills and knowledge that employees possess versus the skills that organizations need to remain competitive.

Failure to address the skills gap can result in operational problems, employee dissatisfaction, and negative impacts on an organization’s financial health. For example, an employee that lacks the necessary skills to perform their job functions can cause project delays or technical errors, ultimately costing your organization time and money. Remember, skills gaps won’t just go away. If ignored, they will get wider and wider.


How to Identify and Assess an IT Skills Gap

To address the IT skills gap in your organization, it's necessary to first identify and assess the gap's extent. There are a few steps you should take.

Create a summary of the necessary skills required for each job function. 

It is vital to take the time to create and maintain an up-to-date summary of each job function. A clear description should spell out the technical and soft skills, experience, and certifications required to be successful in each role. A well-defined job summary will also help you assess if the required skills for a particular job have changed and if adjustments need to be made to level up to industry standards. 

Evaluate the skills of your staff and compare against the skills required. 

Once you have created or updated job summaries, you need to compare them against your staff’s skillset. Remember, it is just as important to consider their soft skills as well as their technical skills. A skills comparison chart between a specific job role and an employee's skillset allows you to identify areas that are lacking and need to be addressed. You can then determine a learning and development plan to help close the gap or if the gap is too wide, decide whether the skills or role need to be outsourced or assigned to someone else.  

Look outwardly to assess the skills that are needed for job functions. 

Looking outward means understanding what your competition is doing and what new competencies are being developed. This also means following emerging technology trends and identifying new skills that are needed and that may not be present in your organization. By taking a long-term view of skills that are required, you can plan for the future in terms of staffing, educating, certifying, and recruiting.

Make skill assessments a regular and ongoing initiative.

Monitoring capabilities on a regular basis is vital to ensure that your organization has the capabilities to stay competitive. As the technology landscape continues to evolve, ongoing learning and education is critical to stay up to date on the latest advancements. Over time, some skillsets may even become obsolete and no longer needed so skills need to continually evolve. 


How to Close the IT Skills Gap

Once you have identified your IT skills gap, the next step is to bridge it. Here are some suggestions on ways to do just that:

Training and certifications.

Training is one of the most effective ways to close the IT skills gap in an organization and should be the first solution to explore. This means taking advantage of internal resources that are available or budgeting for external solutions like workshops that provide exposure to industry experts, and the latest trends. Training options can include 1-on-1 sessions, group training, classroom or online training, and on-demand courses. Workshops could also be customized to address specific or unique needs to save your organization time and lower training costs. 

Create a culture of education and ongoing training

With the fast pace of innovation in technology, training and development cannot be a “one and done” endeavor. Creating a culture of ongoing training must be intentional and strategic. Team members should understand the importance of continuing training and education, make it a part of their normal work routine, and a requirement of employment. Consider rewarding employees who earn certifications with bonuses, spiffs, or other incentives. Gamification strategies, such as leaderboards, point systems, and badges can also be utilized to make learning more interactive, competitive, fun, and challenging. 

Outsource specialty skills using third-party providers. 

Outsourcing allows you to fill skills gaps quickly by tapping into a pool of knowledgeable experts who can hit the ground running. You will need to determine if outsourcing is a short-term or viable long-term solution. If it’s a short-term solution, you can avoid the expense of creating an internal position dedicated to skills that may be needed short-term or only on occasion. You can also use the opportunity to train internal employees, expose them to expertise from different areas of the tech industry that they can learn from, and acquire best practices. 

Hire for the necessary skills when the gap is too wide.

If the current team lacks the required expertise or cannot learn it quickly enough, hiring a dedicated specialist may be the best solution. This approach makes sense when there is too wide of a skills gap, as it allows you to bring in someone who already possesses the required knowledge, experience, and qualifications. However, hiring for a specific skill can be difficult in a tight job market with considerable costs in terms of salary and benefits. That’s why it's important to consider other options such as training or outsourcing first before making this decision.

Alternative Short Courses

Our courses typically only take one or two weeks to complete as the training is very results driven and designed in a way to allow you focus on the knowledge you need most to work on. We also have a wide range of 1 day courses for common common applications like Office. You can attend our classes online, in our Dublin classrooms or take advantage of our most convenient option; Mentored Learning. Mentored learning is a blend between online and instructor led at your own pace and in the way that best suits your schedule. You will be guided from our certified instructors the whole time through the labs and content. We also have the option to send our instructors to your premises.

It's Time to Close the Gap

The IT skills gap is a growing issue in the technology industry, but it's not impossible to overcome. At New Horizons, we are here to help! With over 1,700 courses in our catalog and multiple delivery methods to address different learning styles, our training and certification workshops can keep your team on the cutting edge of technology and help close your skills gap. We are an authorized vendor for some of the largest technology providers and offer an extensive array of content and certifications from Amazon Web Services (AWS), Cisco, Citrix, CompTIA, IBM, Microsoft, Red Hat, and VMware. We are your one-stop-shop for all your ongoing training and certification needs. Explore our offerings today!

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/ Author: Suellen Machado / Number of views: 1567 / Comments: 0 /

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