IT Skills Gap Still Worries Businesses, Survey Finds

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Many businesses are still concerned about the quality and available quantity of IT talent, a survey reveals

The IT skills shortage remains a pressing management headache for many businesses, a new survey has revealed.

Most businesses understand the important role technology plays in achieving their goals, and so are looking to improve their use of IT. However, companies are also concerned that there is a lack in both the quality and quantity of available IT talent, the study found.

Technology Importance

More than three-quarters of businesses say technology is important or very important to their success, the majority plan solid increases in IT spending this year and four in 10 have expectations of hiring new IT staff in 2013, according to research released by CompTIA, a non-profit association for the IT industry.

techskillsabstractThe online survey of 1,256 business and IT executives directly involved in setting or executing IT policies and processes within their organisations found the role of information technology in setting strategic priorities and achieving business success is growing for companies around the world.

Top technology priorities for the next 12 months include cyber-security, data storage and backup, network infrastructure, Web presence (including e-commerce), and updating ageing computers and software. The large majority of businesses said they are interested in improving their utilisation of IT, as just 15 percent say they are exactly where we want to be. They also agreed that technology will be vital to achieving their strategic priorities, which include reaching new customers, improving staff productivity and capabilities, reducing costs and overhead, and innovating more effectively.

“Emerging technologies such as cloud computing continue to see adoption gains as well,” Tim Herbert, vice president of research at CompTIA, said in a statement. “In each country surveyed more than half of responding companies say they are either experimenting with or fully using cloud computing solutions. As businesses rely more heavily on the ‘Internet of Things,’ security, data loss and privacy concerns will affect more companies on more levels than ever before.”

Employee skills rated as having the greatest importance included networks and infrastructure, database and information management, storage, IT support, and server and data centre management. However, IT skills gaps remain a challenge for most businesses, with more than half reporting concerns about the quality and quantity of IT talent available for hire.

While a shortage of talent persists, the report found the majority of businesses expect IT certifications to increase in importance over the next two years. Nearly three quarters of executives said they believe it’s important to test after training to confirm knowledge gains. More than six in 10 say teams of IT staff holding certifications benefit from a common foundation of knowledge and have proven expertise.

Training Boom?

The survey also suggested businesses will put a greater focus on training – workers and companies in most countries are responding to the need for more skills, with the incidence of IT staff engaging in training over past 12 months ranging from 72 percent in Japan to 97 percent in India and Thailand.

“In many cases skills gaps are a natural part of the IT industry due to the speed of innovation,” Terry Erdle, executive vice president of skills certification at CompTIA, said in a statement. “The demand for new technologies can get ahead of the supply of workers who are well trained and credentialed in those areas.”

The survey also revealed that 31 percent of firms make periodic use and 14 percent regular use of outside IT firms and consultants to assist with their technology needs. The most common services used are IT repairs and troubleshooting (52 percent of companies), deployment, installation and integration of IT systems (49 percent), Web design (44 percent), and general IT consulting and advisory services (34 percent).

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Originally published on eWeek.

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