How to deal with the shortage of technical skills

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PHOTO: Adobe


Earlier this week, the Linux Foundation and edX released their annual report Open Source Work Report. The research was based on an analysis of data from more than 200 hiring managers in businesses, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), government organizations and recruitment agencies around the world, as well as responses from more than 750 open source professionals worldwide. Among the many findings, the report found that demand for cloud computing skills has reached an all-time high, overtaking Linux as the most sought-after knowledge area by hiring managers. The data has also shown that DevOps is being used at increasingly high rates requiring better knowledge of continuous development, deployment and integration.

While this is good news for those whose technological skills match these demands, for companies the news is less encouraging. Last year, research found that amid COVID-19 lockdowns, there had been an increase in the number of companies hiring outside consultants to fill talent shortages (48%). However, by 2021, this tactic dropped significantly to just 29%, with companies more likely to train existing staff in new skills (58%) and in fact delay new technical projects (34%).

Skills shortages

Globally, research shows hiring is rebounding from the pandemic, as organizations look to continue their digital transformation activities. This is demonstrated by 50% of employers surveyed who said they would increase hiring this year.

Even still, there are significant challenges, with 92% of managers reporting having difficulty finding enough talent, as they also struggle to retain existing talent in the face of fierce competition. In addition, the rapid adoption of open source software is widening the skills gap in the market. This is especially true for cloud native application development and operational skills, topping the list of 46% of hiring managers.

The recent pandemic has exasperated this trend. In a statement about the report, Johannes Heinlein, chief commercial officer and senior vice president of strategic partnerships at edX, said the problems are not new, but the pandemic has resurfaced. “This year’s report makes it clear that COVID-19 has only exacerbated the skills gaps and hiring needs that were bubbling to the surface before the pandemic, especially in the high-tech sector. “, did he declare. “It is promising that our findings show that employers are meeting these needs by increasing training and learning opportunities. We must empower organizations to invest in this type of training in order to meet the demands for technological talent today and in the future.

Associated article: Is the talent pool now global by default?

The talent shortage as an obstacle

The Linux Foundation is not the only research organization to have assessed the impact of talent shortages. Research Contained in Gartner’s Emerging Technologies Roadmap 2021-2023 (registration required) which examined adoption plans for more than 100 emerging technologies from 437 global IT organizations, shows that IT managers see the talent shortage as the biggest barrier to adoption of emerging technologies at 64 %, compared to only 4% in 2020.

He added that the lack of talent availability was cited much more often than other barriers this year, such as cost of implementation (29%) or security risk (7%). In fact, the availability of talent is cited as one of the main factors inhibiting adoption in the six technology areas included in the survey: compute infrastructure and platform services, network, security, digital workplace, automation and computer storage and database. Specifically, IT managers cited talent availability as the primary adoption risk factor for the majority of IT automation technologies (75%) and almost half of digital workspace technologies (41% ).

Company-wide shortages

The continued push towards remote working and the acceleration of hiring plans in 2021 have exacerbated the shortage of IT talent, especially for sourcing skills that enable cloud and edge, automation and continuous delivery, indicates the report. John Samuel, executive vice president leading digital transformation, IT and cybersecurity at New York-based CGS, says the skills shortage is increasing in all technical areas and those with in-demand technology skills can being choosy about their next move, creating indecision in the career decision process, which delays the entire hiring process and puts additional pressure on existing teams.

While this is happening, there are intermediate steps to dealing with the shortage, including the development of existing staff. Global businesses may seek to manage the needs of a role or team among employees in other global offices or regions. Businesses can also outsource non-core services to managed service providers or professional consulting companies, among other options to consider.

Major cloud providers are more than happy to help bridge the gap and introduce businesses to qualified partners. “In the long term, it is imperative that organizations adopt cutting-edge technologies in a timely manner and invest correctly, as well as a solid recruiting strategy to attract talent and also focus on a strategy of retaining existing talent,” said he declared.

Related Article: Marketing Is Facing A Skills Shortage And Capacity Gap: Here’s How To Fix It

Problems with data

Digital.ai CTO and CEO of AI Gaurav Rewari points to a recent survey by S&P Global Market Intelligence and Immuta, which found that 40% of respondents who work as data providers say they don’t have the staff or the skills needed to manage their positions. In addition, while the role of Chief Data Officer becomes commonplace, 40% of organizations do not. This is happening as the demands for business intelligence from organizations desperate to use their own data continue to increase rapidly.

“Solving this shortage requires a multi-pronged approach involving expanding the skills of students and professionals to include data science capabilities through certificates and dedicated programs in data science, as well as cross-training sponsored by the business for adjacent talent pools such as BI analysts. ” he said.

On the product front, he says there are two key capabilities that can help alleviate the skills shortage.

  • Greater self-service: These capabilities allow business users with little or no programming expertise and knowledge of the underlying data structures to always ask questions using a low-code or no-code model.
  • Pre-built AI solution: These solutions have all the integrations of data sources, pipelines, ML models and visualization capabilities predefined for specific areas (e.g. CRM, Finance, IT / DevOps) so that business users have the ability to gain insight into best practice and predictive capabilities in these chosen areas.

“When successfully deployed, these capabilities have the power to dramatically expand the reach of a company’s data scientists on multiple occasions,” he said.

The need for human understanding

According to Scott Hirsch, CTO and co-founder of TalentMarketplace, the biggest shortages and the most difficult roles to fill are those that deal with complex issues that require deep human understanding – jobs that no machine can understand. Like AI specialists, DevOps professionals, data scientists and other similar fields.

For job seekers, he says, the best they can do is upgrade their skills. If you are an IT support specialist and currently spend your day troubleshooting customer IT issues, find out the details of the system you are working with. Obtain a new certification or show that you can solve the most difficult and complex problems.

But keep in mind that certifications are only useful if they are in demand and paired with relevant work experience, and there is no easy route. You can avoid it by visiting job boards and checking the job requirements to make sure the certification you are considering is in demand and highly valued.

For employers, don’t take too long to make this rental. It’s a competitive market, and skilled talent won’t wait for your hiring process. “Investing in people with potential, they may not be ready now, but with sufficient training, your current employees can become a valuable asset. You can offer training grants to help your team acquire new certifications and skills that you feel are needed, ”he says.


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