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Addressing the skills gap challenge in today’s technology landscape

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/gpointstudio)

What Are the Main Challenges for Tech Pros Managing Today’s Tech Environments?

The modern technology landscape is moving at an incredibly fast pace, and IT professionals are struggling to keep up. New buzzwords, tools, and techniques are constantly entering the market—and it’s crucial for IT pros to keep on top of them. Furthermore, it’s essential to acquire skills to go alongside them. As the time gap between technology updates gets shorter and shorter, companies are suffering labour and talent shortages exacerbated the lack of resources to provide education and training for their staff.

We explored this issue with our IT Pro Day 2019 survey: Building Confidence for Tech Pros of Tomorrow. The aim was to more deeply understand what tech pros need to build confidence in managing both today’s hybrid, distributed tech environments and the futureproof for the complex environments of tomorrow.

How Should Organisations Manage the Impact of the Skills Gap?

The research confirmed IT pros are beginning to feel the impact of the skills gap. In fact, sixty per cent of survey respondents haven’t actively pursued a new skill or completed a certification in the last six months; nearly 50 per cent of tech pros who began the process of achieving a certification didn’t see it through. This was predominantly due to a lack of time to commit.

Finding a way to invest and create time will be paramount to closing this skills gap. The research found increased support and budget from IT and business leaders are the top two requirements for IT pros to become confident at managing current and future IT environments. More than half (54 per cent) of respondents noted full-day, in-person workshops are the best use of time when it comes to learning new IT skills. They also strongly feel management can and should help address the skills gap. Additional support from IT or business leadership is listed as one of the top requirements to become more confident in managing both current and future environments.

How Can the IT Pros of Today Get Ahead?

When companies identify key skills gaps in their workforce, application performance solutions come up time and time again. 53 per cent of IT pros cited user experience and application monitoring as an additional skill required to develop and confidently manage their environment, pointing to the continued prioritisation of end-user experience by management.

The industry should be looking towards what’s available to support them through their journey in acquiring new skills. SolarWinds, for example, is dedicated to equipping IT pros with the training and resources to best support their career growth. We have a number of learning environments including the MSP Institute, SolarWinds Academy, and our annual, virtual, online learning event THWACKcamp™. We aim to nurture talent—and ultimately make people’s jobs easier!

What Skills Typically Sit Outside the Traditional Job Description of IT Pros?

As technology develops, tech pros are being asked the awkward question to pursue areas of work that typically fall outside their job description. However, they don’t have the necessary skills. This simply isn’t efficient. Respondents to the IT Pro Day survey cited application support, troubleshooting, and monitoring as responsibilities they’re tasked with falling outside their core job description.

How Are Soft Skills Becoming More Integral to Career Growth?

Many companies don’t realise, despite innovations in automation, AI, and virtualisation, tech pros are becoming more ambitious in their career growth but lack the soft skills necessary to do this. While some are already pursuing further education to benefit their skills and career growth, nearly half of IT Pro Day survey respondents (46 per cent) cited interpersonal communications skills as most critical to advance their career. Furthermore, more than half named project management (56 per cent) and public speaking (53 per cent) as being crucial to getting ahead.

IT skills are being neglected across the board creating talent shortages and labour challenges. To address this, companies will need to start thinking about incorporating workshops and training days to ensure employees are equipped with the most relevant skills. An effective way to address this is to invest in automated solutions to relieve the burden of work. The automation of the daily, sometimes more mundane tasks frees IT pros up, giving them more time to focus on training.

It will be crucial for business leaders and IT pros to work together on this issue. IT pros play a critical role in the performance and ultimate success of businesses operations. It’s vital they be appreciated for this.

Communication and commitment will be key—if business leaders listen to the issue’s tech pros are experiencing and act on the problem by ensuring the right resource and investment for tech teams, they’ll be able to stay one step ahead. The technology industry will simply not slow down, so to keep on top of this skills gap—and make sure it gets smaller, not larger—organisations need to act fast.

Sascha Giese, Head Geek, SolarWinds

Sascha Giese is a Head Geek™ at SolarWinds, based in the company’s Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) headquarters in Cork, Ireland.