Do you understand what the IT skills gap really means?

A thorough understanding of the capabilities of your technology team has never been more important because all evidence points to the fact that the IT skills gap keeps on growing and is only going to get bigger.

The recently released 2016 CIO Survey from recruitment consultant Harvey Nash and advisory firm KPMG suggests almost two thirds (65 per cent) of CIOs believe a lack of talent is preventing their organisation from keeping up with the pace of change, a figure that has grown ten per cent since 2015.

The rapid pace of technological change means a strong understanding of capability will continue to rise as a business priority. BCS research suggests the number of people required in IT and digital roles will have increased at a rate five times faster than other industries by 2020.

CIOs looking to cope with this skills gap must know how to audit their IT team. By understanding in-house capability and required talent, c-suite executives can look to ensure they have access to a diverse skills set, regardless of fast-changing business requirements.

IT leaders should work with c-suite peers and trusted external partners to audit their team. A well-crafted audit allows you to benchmark against future demands. The result is a deeper understanding of which individuals need re-training and the opportunity to develop a framework for staff development.

Auditing will also help identify the gaps that could be filled by new talent. The IT skills labour market - particularly in terms of graduates - is incredibly competitive. Organisations must compete for an ever-decreasing pool of IT talent, whose analytical abilities can also attract higher paying finance firms.

Smart CIOs will look to underappreciated yet high quality sources of talent, including mothers returning to the workplace and experienced employees looking for a new challenge. Auditing can be the crucial key step towards the creation of a diversified IT team that is ready for future digital demands.

Comments (7)

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  • 1
    Simon Parmenter wrote on 21st Jul 2016

    Pay is the crucial element.
    Skill in short supply? Pay more and an increase in the supply over the long term (>10 years) will occur. This is called investment and market economics in some circles.
    But people want it and want it now without effort.
    But short-termism reigns

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  • 2
    Adrian Firth wrote on 25th Jul 2016

    It seems to me the "skills gap" can be traced to folks who say "digital" when they mean "IT" and say "IT" when they mean "computing".

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  • 3
    Jam Mulcare wrote on 27th Jul 2016

    I think CIOs can lay the blame for much of the imagined skills gap down to their companies practice and they HR , sorry Talent Acquisition teams. They refuse to train people with good existing skill bases and continue to write job descriptions for people who only exist the ideal wonder they can't seem to find the skills they need.

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  • 4
    Ian Game wrote on 28th Jul 2016

    As always, there seems to be a mentality that all technical staff are interchangeable like some cookie-cutter output. This leads to a mind-set that assumes their personal have a fixed in stone knowledge base and working practice. Therefore, if they lack some particular skill then go out and buy a new one!

    When I did my CS degree, over 20 years ago the concepts and fundamentals I was taught are still very much relevant today, the passing fads and flavours of programming and development cycle techniques are something any well educated (note, not trained) practitioner could grasp.

    A well argued case for the point that not all programmers are interchangeable has been made by Joel here:

    The asserting is that 10 mediocre programmers will never be as good as 1 rock star. Also, the stats from education show there is a huge variation between programmers, something like 10:1.

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  • 5
    David Kay wrote on 28th Jul 2016

    There have been some discussion threads in the past about the lack of ICT skills and the unwillingness of organisations to invest in training.

    In addition to formal training, there is also the need for team leadership to develop staff and ensure the team is balanced with the right players in the right position.

    Pay is not the key criteria for many people. Being useful and valued sometimes outweighs this.

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  • 6
    Keith Middleton wrote on 3rd Aug 2016

    The lack of understanding within HR that just because someone does not have the "latest" buzzword on their CV does not mean they are now IT illiterate is worrying. There are a number of people who have worked within IT whose "basic" knowledge gained over a number of years is still relevant and often they are more "knowledgeable" than the youngsters whose IT learning has been based on the now disposed with ICT courses. Schools and colleges are now returning to "coding" which I learnt the hard way on a ZX Spectrum in the eighties and which saw me through programming with a variety of languages. Until it is accepted that knowledge is not redundant and that older IT professionals have a role in mentoring the IT professionals of tomorrow we will continue to have a growing skills gap - the older IT professionals either are discarded or moved "upstairs" and the younger IT professionals have to make the same mistakes as their predecessors before they understand underlying processes. Bringing in a "newbie" will never replace the gap left by old and experienced members of the IT team.

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  • 7
    Les SUTTON wrote on 8th Aug 2016

    All the IT management should be leading and doing the coding. Other professions such as accountancy and doctoring have to practice or they have to leave their profession why not IT? I believe this is the problem, the "gap" will always exist unless all the senior guys do the major coding jobs. IT management should be paid less than than the coders.The coders should also be doing the designing.

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October 2017