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IT Skills Gap Is Significantly Increasing: Midmarket Survey

When it comes to the IT skills gap, 44 percent of survey respondents at the Midsize Enterprise Summit said they balance legacy skills with the development of new skills, 16 percent said they were continuing to develop skills internally and 25 percent said they have a comprehensive critical skills gap across IT and will retain and hire new talent as needed.

The IT skills gap is getting significantly worse as midmarket businesses and organizations grapple with technical talent shortages and employee retention amid the ever-evolving IT landscape, according to a spring 2022 State of the Midmarket survey.

The survey, which had about 120 participants, showed that 18 percent of IT leaders said there is a significant skills gap within their organization, up from eight percent in July.

The survey results were reported by Adam Dennison, vice president of Midsize Enterprise Services with The Channel Company at the Midsize Enterprise Summit in Orlando this week. (The Channel Company is the parent of CRN and CRN.com.)

[Related: 10 Hot Tech Products And Tools For The Midmarket]

“What was alarming here is when we think about that skills gap and the 18 percent, that was a significant jump from July,” Dennison said, referring to a similar survey conducted in July 2021 and whose results were unveiled in September. “In July, eight percent said that they had that significant gap.”

Because of the 10-point increase, he asked the audience for feedback as to why the skills gap is increasing.

“Do you think it’s more around employees leaving? Do you think it‘s around that push to the cloud as it becomes more prevalent?” he said. “It’s hard to keep up with this stuff. You‘re seeing that perfect storm of post-job hopping with new emergent technologies, and that’s creating an issue.”

Survey results also showed that 44 percent of participants balance legacy skills with the development of new skills, 16 percent were continuing to develop skills internally and 25 percent have a comprehensive critical skills gap across their IT operations and will retain and hire new talent as needed.

Throughout the Midsize Enterprise Summit, Dennison polled the audience through Slido, a real-time interactive website and application that conducts live polls to get immediate feedback on certain topics.

Through a Slido poll, IT directors were asked how they asses their organization’s IT skills through the next three years. Fifty-eight percent of the 121 people who participated in the live poll said they expect to see a moderate skills gap by 2025.

To get even more feedback, Dennison asked a conference session audience to share their takes on the skills gap and what their organizations are doing internally to reduce it.

Responses from the audience included having the right tools, the right environment and the right culture within an organization as well as knowing how to efficiently manage talent.

One IT leader said he is seeing employee flight at the senior level, some leaving the industry entirely, which he believes is due to burnout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Another said senior developers want to learn and work on cloud-first technologies, but their organizations aren’t there yet.

One piece of feedback suggested developing and focusing on a strategic plan and communicating that with employees. Another IT leader said his organization creates a professional development plan for new hires. Another said she adjusted her talents’ salaries.

Additionally, one IT leader’s take was that the “cool things are outpacing the work opportunities,” so employees tend to look elsewhere for job growth. To mitigate that, he said he makes everyone a part of the process of the project. Everyone is on a leadership level and works side by side, he said.

Clifford Forrester, CIO of Berdon LLP, a New York City-based accounting firm, said his organization is feeling the skills gap sting as well.

“We’re a midsize accounting firm and we compete a lot against the Big Four,” (the largest accounting firms in the U.S.: Deloitte, Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler), he said. “They spend a lot of money around automation and AI machine learning. What they do now is they come after our customer base, at a lower price, because they use the technology to do a lot of the work.”

To get to that same level of IT capabilities, Forrester said Berdon LLP has outsourced a lot of work to India to ramp up robotic process automation and to build bots so that they’re not solely relying on human talent.

“But I’m definitely feeling the same pain,” he said.

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