Solving The IT Skills Gap

Despite a nearly 7 percent national unemployment rate, the unemployment rate in IT hovers just below 3 percent, according to a Dice report. Among IT hiring managers, 62 percent report that filling open positions is taking longer than it did last year, with some technology professionals reporting up to a six-month hiring cycle.

Consequences of This Shortage

The effects of the IT skill shortage are far reaching. According to the CIO 2014 IT Workplace Trends and Salary Guide, six in 10 IT hiring managers experience the following in their organizations:

  • Low morale from heavier workloads
  • Incomplete or late work
  • Deterioration in customer service
  • Low quality work due to staff being overworked
  • Unmotivated employees
  • Lost revenue – $14,000 for every unfilled job

Top IT Skills Businesses Need

According to a recent CompTIA survey, these are the skills IT teams need most:

Causes of the Skills Gap

High salaries, the ongoing need for training and lack of skill portability are among the main drivers of this stubborn problem.

Salary: For many businesses, the salary demands for the skills needed are beyond their headcount budget. According to a CIO survey, compensation ranks second on the list of IT staff priorities—candidates often go to the highest bidder.

Expertise within a highly sought after technology area can put further pressure on salaries. The average US salaries for specialists in NoSQL, Cassandra and MapReduce are close to $114,000, regardless of geographical location.

Training: Another reason IT skills lag behind demand is the nature of technical training and certification programs. Tech skills change so quickly and expire so rapidly, it’s hard to find new hires with the latest tech skills while also keeping current employees ahead of certification requirements.

Technology melting pot: No two IT pros are the same. Each brings their own list of acronyms representing certifications, training and/or experience with various technologies, some achieved on proprietary systems with skills that aren’t easily portable.

Finding the web developer with a Java, Oracle and Unix background who also has a working knowledge of Struts, JSP and Springs may mean either:

  • Hiring two candidates to get the full skillset
  • Compromising on one candidate that meets most, but not all desired criteria

How Businesses Can Cope

Business doesn’t stop just because you can’t find or afford the IT expertise you need in the job market. More and more, organizations are expanding their repertoire of outsourcing options, from leveraging consultants to signing on with full-service hosting providers or co-location vendors.

Here are some tangible ways to bridge the IT skills gap:

  • Use managed hosting providers with hybrid capabilities to extend existing resources or spin up new projects quickly.
  • Seek out SaaS or application hosting options that alleviate the back-end management of business critical services like email, collaboration and content delivery.
  • Seek out online educational platforms like TrueAbility or CloudU to help your staff easily access hands-on training with the latest skills and technologies.
  • Engage partners to help plan or handle one-off projects or time-intensive deployment, migration or replatforming projects.

Find out more about the Rackspace Managed Cloud.

This article originally appeared at InfoWorld.

Lizetta Staplefoote is a Rackspace Marketing Copywriter with a decade of experience writing about small business challenges for healthcare, real estate, and technology. Her passion is researching and writing about the impact of cloud computing. When she's not wordsmithing, she enjoys hanging out with her sons, exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains, and feeding her music addiction.


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