Closing the skills gap is an ongoing challenge for employers, and a recent survey found that the gap is widening in some organizations.
In fact, 46 percent of executives surveyed by CompTIA (www.comptia.org) indicated that there are more skills shortcomings in their organization now than there were 2 years ago. The Assessing the IT Skills Gap report identified gaps in several areas, including technology, marketing, sales and business development, operations, customer service, and accounting and financing.
“The ‘skills gap’ is often a catch-all phrase for other workplace challenges, such as a labor supply gap or generational differences in work styles,” said Charles Eaton, CompTIA’s executive vice president for social innovation and CEO of Creating IT Futures. “But, whatever the cause, there is clearly a wide chasm between the skills employers want and their perception of the skills their workers have.”
The consequences of not closing the skills gap are far-reaching and, according to CompTIA, can include “lower staff productivity, lower sales and profitability, delays in bringing new products and services to market, and losing ground to competitors.”
Even so, most surveyed organizations lack a formal process to address the skills gap challenges they face. In fact, only about one-third have implemented a formal process and established resources to tackle those challenges, CompTIA reports.
“More than half of organizations acknowledge they struggle in identifying and assessing skills gaps among their workforce,” said Amy Carrado, senior director, research and market intelligence, CompTIA. “Knowing what to fix must precede discussions of how to fix it, and to fix it soon. The breadth and pace of innovation point to a widening skills gap, putting further pressure on organizations.”
“Organizations testing the waters with the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, robotics, and other emerging technologies face even greater skills gaps due to the fast-moving nature of these innovations,” Carrado explained. “It takes time for training materials to reach the market and for opportunities to gain hands-on experience to arise.”
Training can help organizations tackle their skills gap challenges, according to the report. Here are the top five strategies identified by survey participants to close the skills gap:
- Identify “better ways to provide on-the-job experience, such as internships.”
- Use “better ways to provide intense job training, such as apprenticeships.”
- Offer “early student exposure to careers in IT.”
- Encourage “certifications and credentials to validate skills and knowledge.”
- Adopt “better assessments and methods for evaluating the skills of job candidates.”