Dual effort is needed to avert a skills crisis

Employers and employees need to collaborate

The skills crisis facing IT employers has long been debated, but it is worrying that this situation is allowed to rumble on.

And it becomes all the more frustrating when you consider that most IT professionals are ambitious and motivated to do well.

That is why a recent survey by the Chartered Management Institute did not just focus on motivation within IT, it explored the extent to which the goals driving staff are being matched by their employers.

The aim was to determine whether organisations are willing and able to help individuals achieve their potential. Regrettably, the simple answer appears to be no. It seems that people's thirst to reach their potential is not being quenched.

The core problem

Worse, the survey also indicated that individuals believe their organisations are obstructing them from reaching their goals.

More than one in three IT managers said bureaucracy was the core problem and just under a quarter blamed a lack of resources.

If the scenario carries on, it will impact on organisational performance, with employees moving on, taking their skills with them.

And it is a gap that has expanded because, more often than not, development programmes are not properly aligned to the needs of individuals or the business.

Organisations are still undertaking far too much in the way of training for its own sake, or ad hoc programmes that are not tailored to the long-term goals of the organisation, or the aspirations of the employees concerned. But even if employers change their approach, the onus for achieving success is not wholly their responsibility.

Shared responsibility

Most IT professionals will tell you that, from the individual's perspective, they need to acquire skills so they can address more complex challenges. But it is still is up to individuals to learn those skills.

The survey revealed that the factors that have most helped IT managers develop their careers were topped by a desire to "develop experience within one organisation".

Therefore, it is the individual's responsibility to look for opportunities to gain that experience - and this may include cross-functional working. This does not have to be with an insular perspective.

Consideration should also be given to learning from others through networking or mentoring - two key issues identified by IT managers in the survey. The same people also discussed the importance of obtaining professional qualifications.

To help individuals achieve their potential, opportunities for personal and professional development must be found. If that means enlisting external support or building tailored programmes, it is essential that employees and their employers work together to identify the opportunities that meet both their needs.

Failure to do so will mean that the skills crisis will remain unsolved and the best talent will continue to move elsewhere.

Jo Causon is director of corporate affairs at the Chartered Management Institute

Link to the Chartered Management Institute


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