Mind the IT Skills Gap: Study

A new study from non-profit IT trade association CompTIA indicates that for some systems administrators, the skills gap is wide and deep, with only 7% of respondents saying that their IT staff’s expertise was where they wanted it to be. For comparison, 46%  of the 500 organizations surveyed said their IT staff’s skills are moderately close to where they want them to be.

The full State of the IT Skills Gap 2012 report, which CompTIA provided to Wired Enterprise, is available in full here. But the real takeaway is that IT pros just aren’t keeping up as the the intelligent application of technology becomes increasingly important to the success of the modern business. And the data suggests that the importance is  proportional to size – 44 percent of large businesses (500+ employees) reported that technology is very important to them, while only 33 percent of smaller businesses (25-99 employees) said the same.

“There are so many new variables entered into the equation today — cloud computing, mobility, the trend towards bringing your own device, video conferencing. When you add those in, there is definitely concern that IT staff is still catching up,” Tim Herbert, vice president of research at CompTIA, told Wired.

The study also tracked the desire to adopt new technologies, and the results more or less tracked alongside the numbers reported for IT skills. Only 5 percent of respondents said they were exactly where they wanted to be, technology-wise, with 50% saying that they were “moderately close” to where they’d like to be, 12% reporting they’re not very close and 3% that they’re not even slightly close.

CompTIA says that if you take all of these numbers as representative of the market at large, that leaves 18 million businesses in the United States lagging behind in terms of technology – and 15 million with IT staff without the necessary skills.

Services Angle

In real-world terms, the survey indicates that 80 percent of responding businesses have seen the IT skills gap negatively impact areas like staff productivity (41%), customer service (32%) and security (31%). On the other hand, businesses are placing high value on “what could be described as the IT foundation such as networks, servers, storage, security, database management and IT support.” The savvy IT service provider might use that data to hone their sales pitch.

Maybe the skills gap is on the rise, owing in no small part to the cloud, virtualization, big data and other emerging trends. But there’s a growing “anti-stupid” movement among IT managers who seek to make sure their staff stays trained and up-to-date. But will the rate of change exceed the enterprise’s ability to keep up? Time will tell.