Governments Around The World Work To Bridge IT Skills Gap

Global, Digital ConnectionsThe perpetual progress made in the world of technology has spurred on a number of changes throughout the economy. On the one hand, chief information officers are able to implement more and more advanced solutions, which help bring their businesses to the next level in terms of competitiveness. On the other hand, the only way that IT departments are capable of leveraging these tools is by having the talent to support them, of which there is a growing shortfall. Although American CIOs may be feeling the pressure resulting from this skills gap dilemma, they should know that they are not the only ones. Companies in countries around the world are under the same gun, and different governmental bodies are taking action to address the problem.

U.K. encounters same skills issues
Right across the pond, the U.K. economy is encountering the same issues when it comes to supplying businesses on the brink of booming the highly skilled IT professionals that they need. Industry and government officials alike are worried that this lack of talent could inhibit the nations’ financial success, leaving them behind as other countries continue to charge fulls team ahead. MicroScope reported that the Confederation of British Industry, for instance, has been speaking out and campaigning for universities to reduce the tuition for courses in science, engineering and IT.

“Growth and jobs in the future will depend on the U.K. having a workforce that can exploit new technologies and discoveries. The growing skills vacuum is threatening the recovery, as demand from firms is outstripping supply,” said Katja Hall, CBI chief policy director, according to MicroScope.

Mark Brown, director of information security at EY, supported the CBI and voiced the same concerns when it comes to the IT skills shortage that appears to be affecting the country more and more over time. He explained that the while the number of U.K. graduates earning degrees in STEM fields has significantly decreased since the 1990s, there is a spike in young professionals coming from developing countries, such as India and China, who are acquiring training in invaluable tech fields. As a result, officials throughout the European nations are worried that their economy may soon start lagging in comparison to emerging markets because it won’t have enough skilled manpower to meet the IT demand of advancing companies.

By cutting the costs associated with courses in STEM topics, individuals throughout the U.K. hope to encourage more students to pursue these fields. With more graduates cultivating critical tech skills, these countries plan to bridge the gap and be more economically competitive.

Germany has got it down
While some nations around the world may be struggling to place professionals with invaluable IT talent in the positions they need, Germany seems to be suffering considerably less than others, according to NPR. For the most part, countries are lacking the middle manpower required to complete supportive tech tasks, but Germany has managed to mitigate this problem through the structure of its school system. Students are selected to pursue different tracks based on their competencies, ensuring that growing industries will have access to the skilled labor they need. Americans could learn a thing or two from this system, as they scramble to bridge the skills gap.

“It’s pretty much that middle gap [in the U.S.],” said Martina Stellmaszek, spokeswoman for the German American Chamber of Commerce in Atlanta. “They have no problems finding engineers – there are great engineers in the United States – or really very low-qualified jobs – there is also no problem filling that. But it’s really that middle segment where in Germany, we have the vocational training system to exactly train for that.”

Germany’s method guarantees not only the proper supply of IT talent, but also that there is a high degree of consistency in terms of competency among job candidates.

“If you have a certificate that you’re an electrician, it doesn’t matter if you do it in Hamburg or Berlin,” Stellmaszek explained. “Companies know what they get.”

However, this is not the case in the U.S. Stellmaszek explained that with American businesses, “you don’t really know what you get. If someone tells you they’re an electrician, they could have just exchanged light bulbs at an amusement park or they could have worked, maybe, at complex problems.”

As a result, U.S. CIOs may have an especially difficult time pinning down the IT professionals they need. If efforts similar to those in Germany were made, this issue could be less severe.

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.