Create a sustainable staff to combat increasing IT skills gap

computer chip setIt may seem slightly paradoxical, but the more technological solutions advance, the more they could be prone to human error.

As the tools employed by the information technology field continue to become increasingly sophisticated, some experts are concerned that there will not be enough IT professionals who are capable of handling emerging innovations. Because of this, having employees without the proper skill set to work with these intricate solutions may make tech departments and their data more vulnerable.

Think of it this way – recruiters who have to hire staff members who do not have the know-how to navigate programs in a secure manner would be similar to a vision-impaired security guard at Fort Knox. Employees could see faint shadows of a possible security breach, but they may not be able to view the threat in a clear and complete manner. This could set companies and their IT staff members up for leaving their confidential information virtually undefended.

Lack of skills may lead to security issues
Already, this possibility is a major concern for chief information officers and IT executives. ComputerWeekly explained that this so-called “IT skills gap” presents a problem for professionals trying to ensure tech security, which is a rapidly growing worry for CIOs. They recognize that taking on hires who lack the right training and expertise in newer technological tools can leave increasing room for human error.

Because more and more departments are adopting solutions such as cloud computing and mobility, they are now scrambling to find staff members who can implement these tools in an effective, but also secure manner. Many CIOs are discovering that tracking down qualified applicants is a tedious endeavor that does not always prove successful.

At the moment, there are limited training resources and certification programs in place for IT professionals to actually acquire the knowledgebase and experience in the latest technologies. For this reason, recruiters have a narrow pool of viable candidates from which they can pick. This supply is only expected to shrink as technology continues to progress, requiring employees with even more refined skills.

CIOs have been left with the puzzle of having to somehow acquire the talent supply to meet their skyrocketing skills demand. There are a variety of different approaches that IT departments are taking, but training appears to be the most common.

Homegrown IT talent
Some companies have decided to throw up the white flag when it comes to their labor search, instead setting their sights on the staff they already have on hand.

An increasing number of IT departments across the globe have decided to take control of the situation and cultivate their own tech talent. According to CIO UK, the hiring and training trends in certain companies have undergone an overhaul as of late. Due to this growing skills gap, businesses have taken to searching for tech applicants with different backgrounds and then using in-house training to transform these candidates into the personnel they need.

Clive Selley, CIO of the communications firm BT Group, explained to the news source, “there is a skills gap now in the UK, and we’re now skewing towards recruiting from maths-based backgrounds rather than computer science because data science and analytics is so key now. We take on 100 graduates every year and it’s tough, even during a recession, to recruit 100 young men and women for the scheme. We’re struggling.”

This UK-based company has acknowledged that the current market of job candidates does not necessarily have an abundance of its ideal employees. However, members of its IT department have found a way to mitigate this talent shortage by nurturing the bright prospects that are available.

Wisely, this firm has also realized that the skills gap will remain an obstacle for it to overcome in the future. Because of this, Selley is prepared to continue to mold the members of his department so that they are capable of keeping up with whatever technology becomes further down the road.

“I want our department to be constantly learning, and I expect them to reinvent themselves at least once in their careers,” he said, according to CIO UK.

Prepare for sustainable skill sets
The hiring and training model embraced by Selley could lead to a company’s gradual sustainability in spite of whatever innovation throws its tech department’s way. This is particularly desirable because the future landscape of technology is unknown. ComputerWeekly stated that even the tools that businesses use today were not anticipated in the past.

“Six years ago, did we think we would have a billion smartphones today?,” Alastair Behenna, CIO analyst at Forrester, told the source. “Did we think we would have a workforce rising up for IT, saying ‘We want it, we want it’? Did we think Apple and Google would dominate the way they do now?”

Given that context, it is nearly impossible for CIOs to foresee the next big thing in the world of IT, let alone prepare for it. For this reason, it may be in their best interest to form a training program so that their staff members will be ready to handle whatever innovation is to come.

Marie Larsen
Marie is a writer for CIOs.com. She has an educational background in languages and literature. She covers IT trends and executive technology management topics for the company.