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CompTIA: IT Skills Gap Appears to be Growing

A survey of 600 IT and business professionals finds more new skills are needed to keep the business up to date and competitive.

A skills gap frequently exists between what employers want from their IT workforce and what workers can actually deliver. Out of 600 executives surveyed, 46% believe the gap has gotten worse in the last two years.

Despite that, most organizations -- two out of three -- lack any formal strategy to address the gap, according to Charles Eaton, CompTIA's executive VP for social innovation. "Whatever the cause, there is clearly a wide chasm between the skills employers want and their perception of the skills their workers have."

That's one of the main conclusions of a recent skills gap survey by CompTIA, the Information Technology Industry & Association. CompTIA includes 2,000 technology producers and distributors, including Arrow, Canon, Intel, Rackspace, Red Hat and Samsung. CompTIA's 11-page report on the survey, Assessing the IT Skills Gap, was issued June 26.

Over half of those surveyed "acknowledge they struggle in identifying and assessing skills gaps among their workforce," said Amy Carrado, senior director, research and market intelligence, for the association.

Attempts to address the skills gap often founder on "knowing what to fix, which must precede discussions of how to fix it," she added. The pace of change and ongoing innovation in a broad set of technologies is creating the gap, she said.

Want to see one area where skills will be in demand? See Not Doing Big Data in the Cloud? Better Get There.

Organizations are jumping into big data capture, artificial intelligence and machine learning, the Internet of Things and robotics, and they are finding their IT staffs are struggling to make sense of the data generated. Innovation is occurring quickly on all those fronts and staffs haven't necessarily had time to retrain or gain hands-on experience before they're expected to produce results.

Implementing new systems or work processes is the top priority of two-thirds of the large firms included in the survey. For small firms, those with 10 or more employees, hiring skilled workers to drive strategic goals is the top priority, and number two priority of the larger firms. Overall, 55% of those surveyed said they needed to implement new systems; 47% said they needed to cultivate new ideas and innovate; 44% said they needed to hire skilled workers to drive strategic goals; 43% said they needed to launch new products and services.

The skills gap does not represent an overwhelmingly negative assessment. On the contrary, the role of technology keeps increasing in importance, making filling business needs an upward moving target. Fifty-eight percent said their organization had an acceptable vision and strategy but there remained "room for improvement," with 22% saying they excelled in that area; 21% said there was "lots of room for improvement."

Source: Creative Commons
Source: Creative Commons

The results were similar in two other areas, new technology implementation and ongoing operations. When it came to execution and implementation, 59% of respondents said their organization was generally proficient, with room for improvement; 22% said they excelled in that area; 19% said they had lots of room for improvement. When it came to ongoing operations, 52% said they were generally proficient; 31% said they excelled in that area and only 17% they had lots of room for improvement.

There was a wide range of skills needed to fill the gap, however, with a broad swath of respondents agreeing on what were the most urgent skills. For example, 59% cited emerging technology areas, such as artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, big data analytics and automation of IT systems. Likewise, 59% said integration of different applications and data sources, as well as platforms and devices was a leading need.

Fifty-seven percent cited operation of cloud infrastructure and building cloud applications as a pressing need. Likewise, 57% said digital business transformation and modernizing legacy systems required a set of skills in short supply.

Cybersecurity ranked next, with 55% cited the need to find more skills in that area. Architecting applications and software development was cited by 55% as well.

Data analytics and managing data for big data applications was cited by 53%.

CompTIA projected 800,000 IT workers will retire between now and 2024, a development that will "only exacerbate the problem." A majority of those surveyed, 59%, said they prefer to fill the skills gap by focusing on retraining existing workers, with 35% saying they preferred to focus on "next generation IT workers."

As a way of filling the gap, respondents expressed renewed interest in apprenticeship-type training, although few IT workers have gotten their education with that approach in the past. Half said the concept "definitely has merit," and 39% said it "probably has merit."

Fifty-seven percent expected new skills to be gained via online, self-directed training and e-learning; 52% said some retraining could be accomplished via conferences; 49% cited use of webinars; 47% turned toward instructor-led, classroom courses. Another 43% cited mentoring and guidance from peers.

CompTIA a leading provider of vendor-neutral, certification courses for IT workers in cloud, mobility, Linux, networking, security and technical support, as well as other subjects.

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive ... View Full Bio

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doug_b654
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doug_b654,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/13/2017 | 8:58:45 AM
IT Skills Gap
I am 68.   MS Comp Sci, Penn State, 1971.   I've been designing and writing code for 46 years.   I'm going to sound like a broken record.   

Software is no longer a profession, it's now just a job.    An intelligent person comes to realize that change over change over change is tiresome and nonproductive.

Why all the 'changes' - because the products weren't designed correctly in the first place, hence the continual need for 'new stuff' - same as the 'old stuff' - but it has to be debugged all over again.

And then there's the fact that programming (now IT - another demotion) is a dead end job.   There is no place for advancement - unless you call becoming a nano-manager project leader, or worse IT Director.

If these skills are so important - how can one learn them online?   It's really not a skill to know the latest language, it's a skill to have good judgement and write durable code, with the most simple design.   This transcends all the other latest and greatest crap.

I say to younger programmers: "Have a plan B, because by the time you're 40, you're going to be fed up".
SteveN886
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SteveN886,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/13/2017 | 1:54:49 PM
Re: IT Skills Gap
I have to heartly agree with Doug's statements in the first set of comments.

I retired from corporate IT work in 2014 after finally having my fill of assinine technical management but still continue to develop my own projects including a military simulation.

Up through around 2010, the field was somewhat stabilized as a result of Microsoft and Java Community innovations.  Each side ofthe fence had their own way of getting the job done.  However, 2010 marked a serious downturn of capability inthe profession 9see myown piece on this matter at https://blackfalconsoftware.wordpress.com/2015/11/13/2010-the-deconstruction/), which came on the heels of Apple's introduction of the iPhone in 2007 (as serious analysts of this event have concurred, nothing more useless and destructive could have been introduced into society other than the iPhone and its subsequent offshoots of iPadfs and tablets).

In the MIcrososft Community, suddenly out of nowhere the ASP.NET MVC paradigm became the hottest newtrend in web development technologies (most likely so that everyone could now write stupid applications for devices that one would normally need a magnifying glass to read) and Microsoft fostered this encouragement with their own negation of their original but highly innovative  ASP.NET WebForms product, which was maturing at a reasonable rate.

The result has been in this area of the development field a complete breakdown in the effort to create quality software (though to be fair, this endeavor was not often pursued previously) leaving so-called professionals with a collage of conflciting technologies that ranged from scores of JavaScript tools and frameworks all designed in a language that was for nothing more than front-end conveniences, design patterns, and big-data hype.

Surprisingly, the Java Community remained rather stable but this does not mean that this area did not have its own problems.  Designed for large scale enterprise applications, Java implementations up to recently had been overly bloated and inefficient mixed with levels of complexity that prevented prvelant, wide-scale adoption of the language despite the many polls that say otherwise.

These two situations, especially on the Micrososft side, fostered the evolution of a field into nothing more than a mirror image of similar trends in US society with its pop-culture, me-tooism, and the need to have the latest greatest tech\thing no matter what.

Despite the fact that according to one recent poll that desktop applications comprise around 46% of total ongoing development efforts, this area of development has been given short-shrift in terms of the popularity of needed skillsets while Micrososft continues to shift its desktop landscape between Windows Forms, Windows Presentation Foundation, and Universal Windows Programming, the latest incarnation of an attempt by Micrososft to be everything to everybody.  Some recent analysis has stated that this latter technology will only be another Microsoft white elephant.

Corporations on their own have done their best to add to the massive confusion that predominate the IT profession as well as have been direcftly responsible for the many ailments that currently are claimed to plague it.

Corporate and business leaders in general have played fast and loose with the need to emphasize STEM educational programs in the United States and elsewhere by demanding short-term solutions to long term problems, their most egregious and detrimental of all, that of ongoing outsourcing with the only expectation to be that of lower costs.

the end result of all this has turned the IT profession into nothing more than a running joke similar in dysfunction to the current chaos that now torments the current presidential administration.

So too have these coprorate leaders supported Republican plans to rip out the rugs out from society in general so they can get their desires at much lower costs never once thinking that such demands have unintended consequences such as a much less intelligent society.

In the fantasies that they have developed for themselves our US Masters of The Universe in business still set rediculous project deadlines, want personnel not only with the skills they need but be productive at the least possible cost to an organization.  And despite what the poll numbers in this article depict, very little of the suggested remedies will ever be intellgently implemented.  Corporations run on beauracracy and inertia not foundations of intelligence.

This compendium of literal stupidity will never seek out the intelligence to work out such problems when even faced with the growing realization that the suffering will only get worse in the future.  This is what happens when stupid people build organizations.

There have been some really intelligent business leaders in the fold with genuine compassion and humanistic feelings towards those they employ but such leaders are few and far in-between since this genre seeks out the worst in Humanity as a commonality to exploit others.

Business leaders are very much like our current spate of climate change deniers, both of whom believe that if they just ignore the problems because they cannot contemplate the realities behind them then everything will be simply fine.

My advice to young people seeking a professional career in IT is ignore these pathetic corporations and endeavor to build something unique on your own with your own colleagues.  For business advice on how to set up a working structure for the future, I would suggest you study Professor Richard Wolff's concepts at Democracy at Work.

Fight the future because at this rate its not going to be a good one...

 

 

 
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
7/13/2017 | 3:56:23 PM
Skills need the right platform on which to work
It's most likely that the skills gap needs to be addressed by vastly improved infrastructure and availability of services, such as analytics, on which skills may be developed. The skills to do modern work in some legacy infrastructures can't be hired. No one knows what to do with them and they don't support analytics because data is stored in too many incompatible silos. 
ANON1254005438042
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ANON1254005438042,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/14/2017 | 1:17:47 PM
Re: IT Skills Gap
Wow.  Its just so sad that it is all True.  

You are correct in your advice to carve out your own firm (ie consult or contract) and only take projects that interest you / you want to do and NEVER be IT Management at a company.  Taking that path is the only way I kept my sainity (and I made (a huge amount of) more money,  worked when I wanted, actually enjoy my life etc.)

 

 
tcritchley07
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tcritchley07,
User Rank: Moderator
7/17/2017 | 1:25:33 PM
Skills Gap Appears to be Growing
Charles you have stirred a hornets nest here. I have written a paper on this having seen this topic under discussion since 2000 (maybe earlier) and reminds me of Mark Twain's observation but in the skills context; 'Everybody is talking about the weather, nobody is doing anythings about it.' It is too big to post here but it highlights the rapid changes in IT which isn't matched by the speed of delivery of training; books are a point in question. It takes over a year to get one out by which time, unless your topic is ageless, it will be out of date. 

There are other, lateral thinking ideas, in the USA like theri community colleges and employment of 'discareded' military veterans. Curricula in school take 2 or 3 years to agee on and then expect it to last for 5 otr more years. Consider the fact that there are few, if any, true IT courses (not Computer Science) in Universities. Try looking worldwide on the 'net and you will find a couple in name only, they are computer science courses masquerading as 'coal face' IT course. THIS SHORTAGE (in schools too) IS BIG FACTOR IN THIS ISSUE.

Terry Critchley    tcritchley07@gmail.com

PS I am a couple of years short of half a century in IT (wrestling alligator level)
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