Australian organisations continue to struggle to overcome the skills gap in the IT industry. With new disciplines emerging all the time, such as big data, the Internet of Things (IoT), and artificial intelligence, the skills shortage will only get worse if the industry doesn’t act now to address it.
The consequences of not addressing the skills gap range from lower staff productivity and sales to deficiencies with innovation and new product development. CompTIA’s research has found that, despite the negative impact to the bottom line, only one in three organisations has a formal process and resources in place to address skills gap challenges.
While there are no simple solutions, it’s clear that the industry must find ways to attract young people to careers in technology. However, more than half of organisations (54 per cent) acknowledge that they struggle to some degree in identifying and assessing skills gaps among their workforce. Before businesses can decide how to fix this problem, they need to start by understanding where the gaps are.
For many organisations, the gaps in cybersecurity skills can be especially problematic. The threat landscape continues to evolve and new attacks come to light all the time. Most organisations rank data security as the most pressing cybersecurity skills gap area, reflecting a clear opportunity for young people to make a difference.
Businesses need to decide if the skills gap is just the new normal, or if it’s possible to pull together to address it comprehensively.
The CompTIA ANZ Channel Community is committed to finding ways to inspire the future generation of technology professionals, for example, through its Dream IT initiative. Aimed at encouraging young women, specifically, to join the IT industry, Dream IT is led by CompTIA’s Advancing Women in IT Community.
The IT industry offers endless opportunities but it has been a challenge for the industry to get that message across to young people. Initiatives, like Dream IT, aims to address that challenge by introducing young women to the range of opportunities offered by technology careers. The initiative includes ready-made presentation materials and resources anyone can use to spread the message about the opportunities in the IT workforce.
CompTIA has also developed a career resource centre, which has comprehensive information on IT career options, tips for securing jobs, and links to organisations that provide opportunities for mentoring, STEM education, and career guidance.
Not all careers in technology are STEM-based, so a technology career is possible for people with all kinds of skills and interests. In a study last year by the Office of Chief Scientist regarding Australia’s STEM workforce, it stated, “In a technology-led economy the distinction between ‘STEM’ and ‘non-STEM’ jobs is increasingly blurred. More and more workers will be expected to have some degree of technological literacy, as well as the capacity to work effectively with STEM specialists.”
While there are any number of ways for young people to enter the IT industry, the most important step businesses can take is to inspire them to do so. This means taking an active role in initiatives that aim to inspire and educate young people about the potential for rewarding careers in IT.
Karen Drewitt is ANZ Channel Community chair and general manager at The Missing Link