Study: IT skills gap caused by new technology, lack of resources

Study: IT skills gap caused by new technology, lack of resources

Summary: Approximately eight in 10 businesses are negatively impacted because of a widening IT skills gap, according to a new study.


The fast-changing nature of technology and a lack of training resources are two of the biggest factors causing a significant gap in IT skills these days, according to a new study from CompTIA, a non-profit association covering the information technology industry.

The report, which surveyed 502 U.S. IT and business managers between December and January about the state of skills among the nation’s IT workforce, found that at least eight in 10 businesses were found to be negatively impacted because of this skills gap.

Some of the results included problems with staff productivity, customer service, time-to-market, and security.

Overall profitability also proved to be a sticking point for some, with at least 23 percent of the small businesses participating in the study admitting they felt a pinch because of an IT skills gap. Larger businesses and enterprises weren't far behind with 15 percent admitting the same setback.

So which skills are missing from a lot of these companies? Some of the most common shortcomings include handing emerging trends such as virtualization, process automation, and collaboration. But even core areas such as network security and updating equipment are also falling by the wayside.

Terry Erdle, executive vice president of skills certification at CompTIA, explained in the report that few organizations at where they want to be (or at least should be) when it comes to adequate IT skill levels:

Millions of businesses are clearly not where they want to be when it comes to optimizing their utilization of technology and in the skill levels of their IT staffs. Even modest improvements in these two areas would yield tremendous benefits in operational efficiencies, business productivity and economic growth.

Approximately six in ten organizations replied by promising to address IT skills gap challenges with training or retraining existing staff in areas where skills are lacking.


Topics: Tablets, Amazon, Browser, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility, Processors, Software Development

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Companies have only themselves to blame.

    IT doesn't provide well-paying, steady jobs anymore, and companies are not interested in doing any training themselves. When I first entered the industry, the company set aside at least two weeks of paid [b]external[/b] training per year for me. My current company does not pay for any training at all, and we have to take mandatory training (non IT training) on our own time, mainly by reading slide decks or watching little web videos.

    So, we have an industry where your job could be outsourced tomorrow, companies want to hire you fully-trained but are unwilling to invest a penny by themselves, and CFO's mainly regard IT as an expense, not an enabler. Sounds like an internal problem to me.
    terry flores
    • Yup

      Companies seem uninterested in training or providing for the training of their employees. I'm sure that's a result of cutbacks due to the economy, but now they're dealing with the consequences.
      • This has been a problem longer than that

        It isn't merely due to today's economy. This was a problem with a lot of companies over a decade ago as well. Almost all of my training was paid for by myself, not my employer. The only training they did pay for was one week of Oracle and a Solaris 8 FastTrack because of an ERP implementation (which was aready started prior to this training - and at that point I had never used Oracle and had been out of the *nix world for about a decade).
    • It's a hard one though

      The problem early on was a company would train up an employee and the employee would leave. The companies ended up footing the bill for someone else. So instead, they left it to the employee to show-up trained and pay more for it. Sadly, some cannot afford to take the time to stay current. I myself used to take every third year off to recharge and train up, but as the economy went south, so too did the paychecks that supported that method. So now I run on 5 hours of sleep to cram everything I need to into a day. I'm confident it will rebound though. Things change fast enough to guarantee that.
      • I volunteer and but equipment and software out of my own pocket.

        It stinks but that is what I do. My kids are young enough that schools need websites and portals. My company stays pretty current, but we are so big we have to divide up. So I try to stay current by forcing myself to volunteer and build stuff outside of work. I have to finish it, they know it's volunteer and they get something and I get something. Not a solution for a lot of people but it works. But your right, you have to train yourself now days or at least understand the concepts. Tools are tools, but understanding Business, and being able to communicate are the biggest things business need...everything else can be learned and applied.

        Example. I played with Macs, but didn't know much about them. So I bought one and use it at home all the time. I put together ad Windows 2008 R2 server, found a friend with a MSDN subscription and they didn't use that software. I built a Ubuntu server to understand Linux, and I have VM on all of it...I have mini web servers at home (Win/Linux) and I have all of it on my Mac. Cost me $'s but I have training platforms to play with and learn.
    • You couldn't be more right.

      Business organizations in most companies don't understand IT and only see it as an expense. In many cases, the scope of IT for most employees stops at desktop support. These emplyees don't understand the infrastructure and the many systems that define the infrastructure.

      This being said, it is obvious that most companies dont understand the tools needed by IT staffs, therefore, training usually goes undone.

      IT needs to be more understood by companies. They need to build stronger relationships with the technical staff. The lack of good technology resources is a result of bad business managment.
      • Works both ways

        Not only does the business side need to understand more about the IT operations, the IT folks also need to get a better handle on the business side of things to enable better communications between the two parties. This gap needs to be bridged so the business units are better able to convey their needs to IT and for IT to be able to describe the ways technology can improve existing business processes.
      • I disagree most emphatically

        It is not that organizations don't understand IT, it is that they DO NOT WANT TO Understand it. So no, It doesn't work both ways and no, "building stronger relationships" won't work either.
  • Lot of problems...

    Pretty much all of the good techies that I know have done one of the following:
    1. Get promoted out of direct technology work into Leadership! positions due to lack of career advancement in a direct tech role
    2. Go contract, charge a truckload and take long breaks
    3. Go get an MBA

    The work is high-stress, the security is low, and management at big companies, against all available data, sees developers as a "commodity" cog that can be swapped in and out at will. Why would your proactive go-getters stick around for that?
    • I agree

      Mgmt treats IT people like crap usually (I like your commodity comment), so I only do hourly consulting. I can make more $$ than most CIO's and can leave w/o dealing with the political crap and cutbacks on everything. I find it naive for anyone to think a 1 or 2 week training class is really worth the $, but i guess you have to start somewhere.
  • No money for training...

    But CEOs award themselves salaries and bonuses hundreds of times higher than their average employees, and award management million dollar bonuses just to stay with the company.
    No sense of balance here.
    • " You can't bill more hours through efficiency."

      After the point of sale it has been long standing for services to fall off with companies marketing technology and hardware. As well as, products that have to support warranty programs to sell their products misleading customers due to neo-institutional hiring practices for their equipment repair.

      Upgrading service equipment and digital hardware has gone into the redirect of corporate management; and the latest in the suggested requirement for employees to take up their personal hand held devices for work related tasks.
  • Nothing new under the Sun.........

    "Approximately six in ten organizations replied by promising to address IT skills gap challenges with training or retraining existing staff in areas where skills are lacking."

    Yeah right. Translation: Approximately six in ten organizations think that outsourcing all of their IT operations to cloud providers and encouraging BYOD amongst their users, will eliminate the need for IT, and solve the problem permanently.

    Anybody care to bet how many of those organizations actually think that?
  • Dishonest....

    I know capable IT veterans who've been out of work for years. Why? Because they're 50 and they're "too old." I get SO sick of these same dishonest complaints from corporations. I loathe these whining companies. They are the disingenuous, lying scum of the earth.

    American companies will hire every 22-year-old tech student from Nepal and India. And yet they discriminate against native-born Americans and simultaneously complain that there are no suitable candidates here in the US. Well, where is the incentive for anyone in the US when, at 40, you're too expensive compared to a non-citizen kid just off the boat and the companies have NO loyalty to the domestic workforce? In the long run, you're better off becoming a plumber.

    The "globally conscious" tech elite in the US look outward to the rest of the world (exclusively) and could not care less about the US or its citizens. What chance does someone over 40 have in retraining and trying to get hired in IT? None at all. No workforce is being built in America because no one cares about the workforce in America - not the corporations, not the government, not Bill Gates or other hyper-wealthy tech giants, NO ONE.
    • Umm.

      There are not enough 'American born' college students competent to do the jobs. There are several tech companies in the Midwest who can not find ANY talented grads to fill jobs in IT such as Software Engineers. They are mostly lazy kids (with no aptitude for math/science) and think they should make 100K because they are good with iPads, twit, and Wordpress. The heart of the problem here is we need highly-skilled workers of any age. The rest of the world understands this, but unfort Americans are getting fat/lazy...
      • Ummm indeed....

        "The heart of the problem here is we need highly-skilled workers of any age."

        And, as I said, there is a supply of talent that is not being utilized because of age discrimination. Duh. Also, there are loads of people who worked in lending and mortgages who are smart enough to be retrained to be sys admins or whatever. You're sort of agreeing with me and yet trying not to because you'd rather call Americans fat and lazy. You seem a bit confused.

        Bill Gates has a scholarship program that focuses more on racial characteristics than on funding and building a tech workforce. Well capitalized companies and hyper-wealthy tech titans are in a position to steer and build the tech capability of America's existing population, just like Ford once trained many thousands of skilled laborers and engineers. They aren't doing it for a number of reasons, the primary one being that they just don't care. They indulge in a faux-intellectual globalism that relieves them of any responsibility to the America that birthed them and, at the same time, justifies their employment of whoever in the world works for pennies.

        If Gates, the Jobs estate, Warren Buffett and others spent some of their billions on academies teaching and certifying the specific skills they find lacking in the workforce, they'd have the staffing they need. They haven't done that and they won't do it because they would rather keep their money and hire Ramesh from Katmandu rather than stop knocking Americans, give something back to the country, and hire Mark from Cleveland.
  • IT is a lack of control

    IT could care less about their users. What they are really afraid of is the lack of control and the loss of power. This is hard for a group used to having a company by its floppy disks...
    Tony Burzio
    • Power?

      What power? Every company i worked for (almost 15 years in IT) treated IT as a Cinderella stepdaughter. I have to constantly justify every purchase, argue to buy "enterprise" equipment if we need enterprise service.
      And at the end of the day HR departments won't let "expensive" IT pros to be hired. And everybody's a "computer expert", etc., etc.
      Nah - companies are at fault. And high schools for having crappy science programs, and colleges for pushing "liberal arts" degrees...
    • Oh yes, that is us, Petty Power Hungry tinpot Dictators.

      Don't you worry about a thing dude, with Cloud Computing and BYOD it will be just you and your tablet. No Big Bad IT to tell you what to do. Just don't call us when you have a problem.
  • execs' usual baseless propaganda

    CompTIA is yet another non-profit conspiracy of the world???s information technology (IT) executives.
    CompTIA gets its funds, direct or indirectly, from advancing the interest of industry executives through its propaganda and educational programs, market research, networking events to aid executives in conspiring, professional certifications, and public policy lobbying.

    CompTIA always assumes that there is a "skills gap" because it is in the interests of the IT executives to hold down the compensation of STEM professionals, especially bright, creative, knowledgeable, industrious US citizen STEM professionals.

    Few executives are exactly or even very close to where they want to be with technology utilization, staff skill, compensation, pliability and flexibility of professionals' ethics. These differences are hampering executives' own desires for ever more real, inflation-adjusted compensation and power for themselves over others.

    CompTIA and their member executives fail or refuse to precisely define "staff productivity", customer "service" and "engagement", security, and these alleged "skills shortages", in part because the executives don't really understand these "skills". The weak resistance from US professionals to privacy violation schemes, for instance, has barely slowed deployment of the executives' every wet-dream for grabbing and misusing other people's personal private information (CRM, HRMS, TMS/CMS/AMS, "social networking", digitizing and willy-nilly spreading individuals' personal private medical information around the globe and to government bureaubums, cross-linking information in the cloud, barraging people totally inappropriate ads instead of random ads...).

    25% of executives of small firms, some of them unable to fly in the vast pool of US talent for interviews, to offer new-hire training and relocation, don't get all of the cheap, pliant talent with flexible ethics that they want. Similarly, 15% of the executives of larger firms, who refuse to consider what used to be the norm in investment in interviewing, new-hire training, relocation, and retained employee training and relocation, don't get anywhere near as much cheap, pliant labor with flexible/questionable ethics that they want.

    Millions of executives are clearly not where they want to be when it comes to optimizing their abuse of technology.

    Executives refuse to invest in 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 (privacy violation), mobility (getting 24/7 work for 7/5 compensation), collaboration and virtualization, at the expense of their own guaranteed extravagant compensation. Only 57% of executives are even considering investments in education and training, inadequate though those investments may intentionally be.

    As STEM workers develop new possibilities, executives, who do not understand them, are quick to declare that those who developed them are incapable of working in these new technologies.

    STEM professionals have always had a strong propensity for life-long learning and skills enhancement, and executives have long abused STEM pros' eagerness to engage in autodidactic activities.