Gernot Krautberger - stock.adobe

Three-quarters of global IT decision-makers facing skills gaps

Research by Skillsoft has found that 76% of IT decision-makers across the world have departmental skills gaps – a number that has increased significantly in the past five years

Around three-quarters of IT decision-makers worldwide claim to be facing critical skills gaps across tech departments, according to research by Skillsoft.

After questioning around 9,300 IT workers, the EdTech company found that 76% of IT leaders have skills gaps in their departments, an increase of 145% since 2016.

Pointing out that while the increasingly digital world brings opportunity, it also brings the needs for new skills, Michael Yoo, general manager, technology and developer at Skillsoft, said: “Gaps in skills don’t just disappear, they only grow wider if not properly addressed.

“While it is encouraging to see early signs of closing the gap, work is far from done. Organisations must place a bigger emphasis on investing in employee training, empowering professionals to earn new certifications, and filling vacant roles with diverse candidates.” 

The digital skills gap is especially notable in the UK, with firms complaining there aren’t enough skilled workers for technology roles, and many adults not even having the basic digital skills to complete day-to-day tasks.

While the number of worldwide IT decision-makers reporting a significant skills gap is high, 2021 shows some improvement on the past two years – in 2020, 78% of worldwide IT leaders said their departments were suffering a critical skills gap, with 79% saying the same in 2019.

But more than half of IT leaders are claiming these skills gaps are adding stress to organisations, with 36% saying skills gaps are preventing them from meeting business objectives, and 42% saying it’s stopping them from meeting expected quality objectives.

Around 40% of existing IT staff have also said that they feel like their workload is a challenge for them – during the pandemic, many IT workers saw a decrease in their mental health due to an increase in demand for IT services.

IT leaders are struggling to fill roles, with just over half saying they have at least one position unfilled, and 38% saying they’re struggling to hire for three or more vacancies.

SkillSoft’s research found that 38% of IT leaders believe their existing skills development programmes are being “outpaced” by the rate of technology change, contributing to the growing skills gap.

Finding it hard to attract skilled workers was cited by 35% of IT leaders as a reason for skills gaps in their teams, and 32% said a lack of investment in training resources was a contributor.

Around three-quarters of IT workers want to work to develop their skills, but 40% of IT leaders said their company doesn’t provide formal internal training.

There has been an acknowledgement in the UK, most recently being mentioned in the 2021 Autumn Budget, that more needs to be done to increase tech skills, both for those already in work and those who are still at learning age.  

Many have argued a commitment to lifelong learning will be the only way to keep up with digital skills demand, and a majority of IT workers who have achieved new skills and qualifications said that there were increased benefits after they have done so – around half reported that it improved their quality of work, while 27% said they performed their jobs faster.

If employees feel that they’re are notgetting the skills development they need, they are far more likely to leave an organisation, with almost 60% of tech workers saying they’ve switched roles because of a lack of opportunity at their organisations.

Because many organisations are claiming ongoing development can both help to close growing skills gaps and increase employee retention, around 56% of IT leaders have plans to introduce internal training schemes.

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