IT leaders believe that leadership (93%), understanding business objectives (95%) and project management (92%) skills are the most valued, according to research from the global leader in professional IT resourcing, Experis. Supporting this trend, 62% expect to see an increase in people from non-tech backgrounds entering IT departments over the next two years. As priorities change, the need for individuals with wider skill sets is complicating the existing IT skills shortage.
For the report, Tomorrows Tech Teams, Experis surveys 1,000 IT workers and 200 senior IT managers to explore the current and future strategy for the UK’s IT department. It also reveals that 90% of IT leaders believe that the ability to learn new technology skills is as important as existing knowledge in today’s rapidly evolving tech economy.
Geoff Smith, Managing Director of Experis, commented: “The prevailing narrative of the IT skills crisis is that we need more skills in specific tech areas in order for businesses to embrace emerging technologies, innovate and remain competitive. However, our research suggests that the problem is growing. IT leaders and HR must become more agile and identify candidates and existing team members that possess wider business skills and leadership qualities as well as those able to learn new tech skills. It’s also important for them to assess their way of thinking. Individuals that challenge and question existing systems and processes in order to make improvements, displaying a growth mindset, will drive innovation.”
The research reveals that IT leaders believe the most successful IT teams of the future will be those that support continuous learning (97%) and have a training strategy, which is responsive to emerging tech trends (94%). But while IT leaders recognise the importance of personal development and training, half (48%) of IT workers say their training programme is reactive. Worryingly, 15% claim their organisations have no training at all.
The consequences of failing to offer the right learning and development opportunities are evident in the research findings. A shortage of the right skills not only results in reduced business growth (41%) and reduced competitive advantage (43%), but has a significant impact on employees. IT leaders say it is likely to increase stress on IT teams (53%), reduce morale (46%) and reduce productivity (43%).
Smith continued: “Building a culture of learning where employees are encouraged to think creatively about projects and try new things, while being given the responsibility to change processes for the better will improve efficiencies and team morale. Offering teams the flexibility to work across different areas of the business and learn from different people will help drive this culture change, along with mentoring and coaching in tech and non-tech skills. For this to happen, IT managers, HR and employees need to communicate more frequently about what areas of development they think are necessary and where specialists’ skills are being underutilised. Only then can businesses harness their existing talent potential and ensure they get the best and brightest to join in order to achieve business innovation and growth.”