IT leaders worldwide are confronted with twin challenges today: talent retention and recruitment. These top two workplace challenges have become one of the biggest problems that IT leaders have endeavored to solve this year. Despite headlines of layoffs and economic uncertainty, the tech labor market remains a trying and highly competitive landscape for employers when retaining and hiring employees.
In Skillsoft’s recent IT Skills and Salary Report, over half of IT professionals say they’re either somewhat likely or extremely likely to leave their post in the next year. The main reason for leaving? To get a raise.
But pay wasn’t the only reason for moving on. A lack of training and professional development opportunities also ranked among the top reasons workers choose to leave, along with a lack of work-life balance.
IT and tech workers are hungry to learn and apply new skills. For their employers, this means they want opportunities to build new skills and learn while finding productive ways to make an impact at work.
Hiring workers with the skills that employers need is increasingly becoming daunting. Most IT decision-makers — those who manage teams and budgets — say hiring talent is the toughest in cloud, analytics, big data, data science, cybersecurity, information security, application development, and DevOps.
This problem creates a chicken-and-egg challenge in IT. Two-thirds of IT leaders say they struggle with skills gaps on their teams, which impact morale and stress, project durations and resolution times. And the top reason given for skills gaps is that they struggle to hire candidates with the skills they need.
The training factor
Training factors into organizations’ abilities to fill skills gaps. A quarter of the decision-makers surveyed in Skillsoft’s IT Skills and Salary Report feel that their companies didn’t invest in training or training wasn’t effective. They also responded that they didn’t anticipate the skills they are now lacking or that they failed to assess skills within their employee base.
The good news is that this is a situation that can be remedied. The remedy is down to investing in reskilling and upskilling.
Own the upskilling and reskilling imperative
Job seekers are looking for organizations that are open to developing skills. Employees value employers that are willing to invest in them. And employers spend less time and money recruiting candidates to fill skills gaps and increase productivity when their workforce has the skills for their current job and the next technological advancement. It’s a win-win for all.
To upskill and reskill successfully, IT leaders should consider the following:
- Align on your priorities – Have a candid discussion with your business partners grounded in the organization’s near-term and long-term skill requirements and inventory and reflective of the current business environment. Ensure that your learning programs’ priorities align with the skill demands and commercial strategy of the business. Express these priorities in a simple skill taxonomy that illustrates the obvious value to your business partners while mapping career pathways for your workforce. Be prepared to adjust these priorities frequently in the coming year.
- Baseline your organization’s skills – Some organizations are in the dark about their skills gaps. This leaves room for gaps to threaten operations or elevate risk within the organization. As a result, leaders must first identify where current and potential skills gaps lie and accurately assess learners’ skill levels to deliver relevant content that aligns with their readiness and goals. This can be done through benchmark assessments to explore all employees’ skills and skill depth to understand the skills landscape and align workforce skills with business strategies and critical growth initiatives.
- Develop learning programs that squarely address the priorities and be prepared to adapt – Once existing skills are assessed and defined, leaders must collaborate with their counterparts in learning and development to hone training curricula that target key skill areas. The benefits of this partnership can manifest in many ways, including better adoption of training programs. Additionally, leaders should invest in new technologies and work with their partners and stakeholders to design training programs. These programs should be highly relevant, applicable, and accessible to your team.
- Personalize the experience for your learners – While many professionals agree they want opportunities for hands-on practice, learning preferences vary from person to person. What’s more, their ambitions are unique. Some want to build new skills; others want to earn a certification or take on different responsibilities at work. Leaders and managers should bring up career development in their meetings with staff and talk to them about their goals and how they can support them. Then, provide training that’s tailored to them.
- Measure the ROI with agreed-to metrics – Define what success looks like with your partners and stakeholders. Track your team’s progress to understand how training impacts their careers, projects, initiatives, and resources. Continue to iterate over time to adapt training to the needs of your team and that of the greater organization. Doing this alongside a mindset that focuses on employer-employee growth, organizations are much better placed to address the skills gap and build a resilient workforce that survives and thrives, even during challenging times.
(This article is written by Krishna Prasad, Senior HR Director, Skillsoft, and the views expressed in this article are his own)