IT Skills Shortage still tops the Technology Agenda

As the UK technology sector continues to grow, companies stand to benefit from new innovations and increased digital developments. However, the lack of IT skills and growth of new talent presents an ongoing challenge that must be addressed.

Technology and Skills Priorities

IT security is a top priority, with nearly half of respondents in a recent survey seeing human error as a growing concern for businesses. Many blame a failure to get staff up to speed on security breaches – a sign that IT professionals need to look beyond technology solutions and start taking responsibility for training the people using them.

Mobility is in the top five IT priorities, which means we can expect increased use of tablets, but also services such as video-conferencing.

But people still care more about traditional IT infrastructure – data storage and networks are clear priorities. Despite the hype around cloud, server rooms and datacentres are not dead yet and the skills to maintain them should not be completely cast out as we develop new skills for the approaching cloud. There is no doubt cloud is growing ever more popular, and while we stress not ditching old skills too hastily, preparing for new ones is clearly essential.

The Skills behind the Technology

The innovative nature of IT often means that demand for new IT skills outstrips supply.

As new technologies move from invention to mainstream application, there is a constant need to keep reassessing skills, training and recruitment, to ensure you can meet changing demands.

A study found that 86% of IT staff have engaged in some form of IT training in the past 12 months. Less than half of these (35%) trained with an instructor, compared with a global average of 45%. This is not bad, but instructor-led training tends to be the most effective at delivering lasting results. Given the need for constantly updated skills in IT, this needs to increase.

Why Certification Matters

Training is great, but it should ideally be backed by assessment to validate the skills acquired. The research found 73% of respondents thought it important to test after training to confirm knowledge gains.

The critical factor here is industry-led certification, which provides a benchmark for the skills delivered through training and accreditation. In other words, it offers assurance that the training has been aligned with the skills and requirements that are in demand in the real world.

With this benchmark, it is easy to evaluate the capability of a team or the quality of a prospective candidate. This is always important, but never more so than when a business is venturing into new territory. Knowing your staff meet an industry-approved skill level is hugely important for introducing new technologies – not to mention for your own peace of mind.

The industry seems to agree. Some 31% of respondents had some sort of certification requirement and another 44% strongly encourage them. Given the demonstrable returns CompTIA sees from certification among its members – from individual progress to ability to win business – such support for certification is a good thing.