skills gap

The Skills Gap is Widening – How do we Close it?

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An increasing problem

Finding employees with the right set of skills for any organization is becoming increasingly difficult, and it is time to find a way, perhaps via training, internships and apprenticeships to close this gap.

Organizations acknowledge that they have widening skills gaps within their workforces, but many are struggling to find solutions to narrow the gaps, according to a report from CompTIA, a leading global technology association.

Nearly half (46 percent) of the 600 executives surveyed for the report “Assessing the IT Skills Gap” believe skills shortcomings within their organizations have grown over the past two years.

Skills gaps are not confined to technology alone, the surveyed revealed. Executives also reported skills issues in areas such as marketing, sales and business development, operations, customer service, and accounting and finance.

“The ‘skills gap’ is often a catch-all phrase for other workplace challenges, such as a labor supply gap or generational differences in work styles,” said Charles Eaton, CompTIA’s executive vice president for social innovation and CEO of Creating IT Futures. “But whatever the cause there is clearly a wide chasm between the skills employers want and their perception of the skills their workers have.”

Wide ranging consequences

The consequences of workforce skills gaps can affect many areas – lower staff productivity, lower sales and profitability, delays in bringing new products and services to market, and losing ground to competitors.

Yet just one in three organizations said they have a formal process and resources in place to address their skills gap challenges. The remaining companies reported having only an informal proves or no process at all.

“More than half of organizations acknowledge they struggle in identifying and assessing skills gaps among their workforce,” said Amy Carrado, senior director, research and market intelligence, CompTIA. “Knowing what to fix must precede discussions of how to fix it, and to fix it soon. The breadth and pace of innovation point to a widening skills gap, putting further pressure on organizations.”

The speed of innovation is one of the biggest challenges companies face in keeping their employees skills up to date, a challenge that show no sign of abating.

“Organizations testing the waters with the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, robotics, and other emerging technologies face even greater skills gaps due to the fast-moving nature of these innovations,” Carrado noted. “It takes time for training materials to reach the market and for opportunities to gain hands-on experience to arise.”

Better approaches needed

When asked about strategies for addressing skills gap challenges within the workforce pipeline, companies emphasized the need for better approaches for candidates to gain work experience and on-the-job training. The top five strategies cited include:

  1. Better ways to provide on-the-job experience, such as internships.
  2. Better ways to provide intense job training, such as apprenticeships.
  3. Early student exposure to careers in IT.
  4. Certifications and credentials to validate skills and knowledge.
  5. Better assessments and methods for evaluating the skills of job candidates.

“Assessing the IT Skills Gap” is based on data collected through an online survey of 600 business and technology executives. The survey was conducted in February 2017.

Visit CompTIA Insight & Tools to download a free copy of the full report.

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Eric T. Tung

Eric T. Tung is the director of digital communications for GoTo Marketers, a top-rated social media strategist and consultant, and dad. He has worked with some of the leading companies in the world on digital communications and employment branding, and makes a mean smoked brisket. Eric is based in Houston, Texas, and you can find him on most channels as EricTTung.