How to Close the IT Talent Gap

How do you build your future workforce? Experts agree that there is a talent shortage of specialized technology workers who are core to IT and the business. But where is that gap at your company? Learning how to do a skills analysis of your IT teams can put you ahead of the talent curve.

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Tue, June 25, 2013

CIO — There is an old business adage attributed to Peter Drucker that says: "You can't manage what you don't measure." This means if you don't have real metrics in place and you aren't measuring performance, you'll never know whether you're doing better or worse. This adage is relative to many of things we do in IT and careers, because if you don't know where you are going, then you won't know the skills necessary to get you there.

Consider this piece of data from the CIO Executive Council's report, Creating Your Future-State IT Leadership Team Today. Two hundred senior IT personnel were asked how important they thought development of their own people was. These IT leaders almost universally (96 percent) rated this as either important or very important, but when asked how adept their leadership was at tackling this integral part of employee management more than 30 percent rated themselves as not proficient. One way companies can help better develop their IT talent internally is to build an individualized training program based on a skills analysis.

IT Skills Analysis Image

A skills analysis of your IT team is one of the pivotal tools in your management toolbox. It can help your company better understand where their competencies and weaknesses lie.

"It's crucial to do this type of analysis for workforce planning and career development because it helps employees understand what skills the business is going to need to achieve its goals," says Rachel Russell, director of marketing at TEKsystems.

This, in turn, allows leadership teams to better plan for the future needs, but more than that, when done correctly, it builds employee engagement and helps retain staff longer.

"It's something we're beginning to do, but I think it's going to happen more and more. Once you have data about how your employees are doing you have a lot more tools at your disposal," says Rajat Paharia CEO and co-founder of Bunchball.

Why Perform an IT Skills Analysis

"Being able to invest in and develop your own people is crucial, as retention and bench strength are really critical right now," says Monica Brunaccini, vice president and chief learning officer at the CIO Executive Council.

According to Eric Garrison, director of learning at Benchmark Learning, you can't get better connected to the business unless "the technical skills are in place, the business skills are in place and the process skills are in place; otherwise you risk falling flat on your face."

There can be a number of factors that bring you to the realization that a skills analysis is in order. Ron Guerrier, vice president & CIO at Toyota Financial Services offers this example:

We knew that mobile was where it was at about two years ago. Everyone was talking about mobile. All your applications, all your customer-facing apps, have to have a mobile aspect. We then realized that we didn't have the skill set in-house to start building mobile apps and pushing things out to the iPad or Android or what have you.

Guerrier knew he needed to do something and a skills analysis seemed like a good place to start.

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