The skills gap is a pressing issue for today’s IT professionals—not only are diverse technology skills crucial to manage modern IT environments effectively, but they drive career growth and progression. New skills are a competitive advantage to IT tech pros and the organisations attracting and retaining them. But developing these skills is easier said than done.
Further emphasising the importance of filling the skills gaps, a report by Robert Half revealed 95% of surveyed CIOs in Hong Kong indicated IT professionals are more likely to resign if their company is unable to provide requested training, when compared to comparable survey results three years ago. Organisations need to start thinking about ways to better support IT professionals to retain talent.
The latest survey from SolarWinds, Building Confidence for Tech Pros of Tomorrow, shows that although IT professionals can identify emerging technologies, the road to career confidence is still challenging, unless business leaders and IT professionals work together to bolster confidence and encourage skills development.
Continuous skill development can help IT professionals keep abreast of technology trends to give their organisations an edge in the digital world. According to the same report, however, skills development is often beyond grasp for a majority of tech professionals. While some tech pros attempted to pursue a new skill, 63% of survey respondents started a certification process (such as Microsoft, Cisco, AWS, VMware) but didn’t complete the course. Nearly half (47%) cited lack of time for committing to completing the course as the reason they stopped before completion.
As such, organisations should work hard to resolve the skill shortages in ways that resonate with tech pros. Taking the data centre labour shortage as an example, in-company training ranked as a top-three tactic for addressing this shortage, with 35% of respondents selecting this option. Similarly, the majority of survey respondents (54%) cited full-day in-person workshops as providing the most value for the time spent when it comes to IT skills training materials.
Another effective option would be to allocate monthly training hours to IT pros and allow them to choose the training courses they prefer at a budget your organisation is comfortable with. Organisations can also work with local education institutions to host internal training and workshops. Alternatively, e-learning courses are good options for Hong Kong IT pros who work under tremendous time pressure. IT professionals may use online education platforms to keep up-to-date with industry knowledge, some of which are free—for example, at SolarWinds, as a way of giving back to the IT community, we publish training videos on a regular basis at SolarWinds Lab and we run an annual virtual IT learning event, THWACKcamp, to share best practices and expert recommendations on how to make IT more effective.
Soft skills are also becoming more important in driving the career growth of IT professionals. Nearly half of survey respondents (46%) cited interpersonal communications skills as the most crucial for their continued career growth, followed by other top skills like project management and public speaking/presentations. Organisations need to pay attention to employee’s career advancement, as talents are the foundation of success.
Meanwhile, surveyed IT professionals are calling for the increased budget or additional resources (64%) and more support from IT or business leadership (48%) to do their jobs more effectively and become confident managing current and future environments. Despite the challenges technology professionals encounter, they manage to keep pace with the ever-changing world of IT, finding ways to solve issues and evolve with technology. Business leaders and IT professionals should work together to have talent and organisations grow together.