How to Manage the IT Skills Gap

In today’s employment market, IT professionals are in high demand, making it difficult for enterprises to recruit people with the right skill sets. That might include cybersecurity or application development specialists, or professionals familiar with Avaya platforms and solutions.

“Hiring activity is up across all job roles,” said Topher Barrow, product marketing manager, ConnectWise in a recent BrightTalk seminar, “Overcoming the Talent Shortage for MSPs.”   His colleague Zeshan Raja, vice present technical sales, added that the shortage affects service and support positions, as well as IT roles.

Managing the technology skills gap is a frequent topic for consultants and human resource professionals, as well as IT leaders. For instance, Adam Holtby, principal analyst, Omdia, addressed talent issues in an Enterprise Connect session, “Enabling the Hybrid Future of Work.” He emphasized the importance of digital skills training for employees, as that can reduce demands on your help desk or core IT team.

Here are some other suggestions for IAUG members.

• Do more with less. Automating routine processes can free up current staffers for more productive activities.  Remote monitoring and artificial intelligence (AI) applications can help reduce the burden of manual tasks for your staffers.

• Outsource IT services.  Another strategy is to outsource some of the current IT workload, such as engaging a third-party firm to manage your help desk. Moving from an on-premise to a cloud platform can also shift responsibility for many IT skills to a service provider, although going that route is a major strategic decision for the organization.

• Hire remote workers.  In the current work-from-anywhere environment, you may be able to recruit IT professionals from a wide geographic area, rather than being restricted to your local community.

• Build college/university partnerships. Collaborating with colleges, universities and vocational training organizations can give you an inside track in recruiting new IT professionals.  Take advantage of “career days” to let students know about your organization, and offer internships to give them hands-on (or remote) experience that can lead to a job offer. 

• Up-skill your team. Another way to close the IT skills gap is to provide training and cross-training opportunities to current staff. That includes a wide range of online programs, as well as conferences like Avaya ENGAGE 2021 in Orlando, December 12-15.  Along with a fully array of presentations and workshops, IAUG is offering pre-conference training sessions on four timely IT topics:System Manager Administration, Utilizing and Setting up Remote Workers, Vectoring in Elite, and Analyzing Call Flows in Avaya Aura using TraceSM/TraceSBC. Learn more here.

• Reward current employees. Many IT jobs require long hours with relatively little recognition. So, change that situation by going out of your way to create a positive culture and reward individuals and teams for doing an excellent job. “Non-pay incentives can be a great way to retain good employees,” said Barrow. “Think about rewarding employees as a team, promoting collaboration across the board.”

• Stay focused on your people. Supporting well-being is vital to your team’s morale and productivity. “Be sure you think about the people elements as well as your processes and technology,” said Holtby. “That’s never been more important than it is today.”

Plan for the future

When looking to the future, don’t forget to prepare a long-term IT talent management plan.  Think about what skills may be needed in the next few years, along with IT platforms, devices and applications.  As Barrow said, “Be sure you create a plan for talent to help address the many uncertainties facing organizations.”

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