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IT Skills Gap Impacts Business Operations

Eight in 10 organizations say their business operations are impacted by gaps in the skill sets of their information technology staffs, according to new research published by CompTIA.

The fast-changing nature of technology and a lack of training resources are the biggest factors contributing to the skills gap, with a majority of companies surveyed intending to devote more resources to training to close the gap.

"Even as the importance of technology to business success grows exponentially, few organizations are exactly or even very close to where they want to be with technology utilization and staff skill levels," said Terry Erdle, executive vice president, skills certification, CompTIA. "These gaps are hampering business success."

The study shows that IT skills shortcomings impact staff productivity (41 percent), customer service and engagement (32 percent) and security (31 percent). It also impacts speed to market for IT businesses at a higher rate (34 percent) than other industries (20 percent). Profitability is also affected, with 23 percent of small companies feeling the pinch on the bottom line, compared to 15 percent of large and medium firms.

Companies say their IT workers come up short in skills in both existing core areas such as security, data storage, refreshing aging equipment, improving network infrastructure and disaster recovery, and business continuity; and emerging areas such as business process automation, mobility, collaboration, and virtualization.

Nearly six in 10organizations (57 percent) intend to address their IT skills gap challenges by training or retraining existing staff in areas where skills are lacking.

"The expected commitment to more education is an encouraging sign," Erdle said. "IT professionals have a strong propensity for lifelong learning and skills enhancement, so the large majority will welcome the opportunity to broaden their knowledge. An investment in new IT education and training will deliver strong return on investment to the business's bottom line."

IT Skills Important for Global Workforce

An international survey of 400 business leaders from the US, UK, China, and Brazil shows that increased technological capabilities such as IT, mobile computing, and social media are considered to be the most important skills for tomorrow's global workforce. Thirty seven percent of those surveyed ranked these skills as the most important.

Published at the World Economic Forum's "Summer Davos" in Dalian, China, the survey asked business leaders across four continents whether today's government education systems are meeting tomorrow's business needs. The survey was commissioned by Global Partnership Schools and GEMS Education from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

"The GEMS Education survey shows clearly that American business leaders, as well as those from other corners of the world, prioritize IT skills above any other skills for their future workforce," said Manny Rivera, CEO of GEMS' US-based Global Partnership Schools. "The survey also shows that a large proportion of business leaders from the US and UK feel that they have no access to the reform and design of the education system, and feel that students aren't well prepared for the world of work."

The second highest priority was considered to be deep technical skills (specialist knowledge of the business) with 20 percent of business leaders polled ranking it as the most important skill for tomorrow's global workforce. Emerging economies attached more importance to this skill than did the more mature ones. In China, 20 percent of business leaders considered deep technical skills to be the most important skill and in Brazil 32 percent of business leaders considered it to be the most important skill. However in the US, only 13 percent of business leaders considered deep technical skills to be the most important skill. And in the UK only 15 percent considered it to be the most important skill.

Emerging economies did not rank the importance of cross-cultural networking very highly. Only 2 percent of Chinese business leaders considered cross-cultural networking to be the most important skill for tomorrow's workforce and only three percent of Brazilian business leaders considered it to be the most important skill. However, it was considered more important in developed economies. Some 13 percent of UK business leaders considered cross-cultural networking to be the most important skill – the highest of all countries surveyed. The US came second with 9 percent of its business leaders considering it to be the most important skill.

Business leaders were also asked which strategies they should adopt to ensure they have access to the most suitable employees in the future. Chinese business leaders are by far the most likely to want to recruit from abroad with 22 percent saying that recruiting from abroad would be the most effective way of accessing suitable employees of the future. However, only 9 percent of Brazilians consider recruiting from abroad to be the most effective way of accessing the most suitable employees while only 5 percent of US and UK businesses leaders consider recruiting from abroad to be the most effective way of finding the most suitable employees.

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