July 05, 2024 | 5 min read
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Overcoming the IT skills shortage in a hyperconnected world

Victoria Marshall-Rice

Chief People Officer

There’s no denying that digital transformation is at the forefront of most business strategies. And has made the demand for skilled IT professionals skyrocket. But demand is outpacing supply, resulting in a persistent IT skills shortage. Addressing the IT skills shortage is not just a matter of filling positions; it's about ensuring your organization remains competitive and innovative.

As a Human Resources leader for a global Internet Managed Services Provider company, I know first-hand what the current IT talent market looks like. And I understand how far-reaching the consequences are for your network and IT team if you can’t find the talent you need.

Fortunately, there are ways you can overcome the IT skills shortage that will allow your transformation programs to progress and offer a better experience for your existing and future employees.

What’s causing the IT skills shortage?

Out of 650 global technology leaders surveyed for the Expereo-commissioned IDC InfoBrief, Enterprise Horizons 2024: Technology Leaders’ Priorities on their Digital Business Journey, it was revealed that the following three skill areas were the most challenging to find and retain:

  • 39% said cybersecurity skills.
  • 36% said networking skills.
  • 35% said data, AI and automation skills.

Several factors contribute to a shortage in these particular IT skills.

Causes of the cybersecurity talent shortage

Starting with cybersecurity, there is a global talent shortage resulting in 4 million unfilled cybersecurity roles. This is due to the rapid evolution of security incidents and types of attack a company may be vulnerable to. Cybercriminals learn new methods of attack faster than security professionals can learn how to secure an organization’s systems, networks and data from them. This means organizations need bigger cybersecurity teams with more diverse skillsets, exacerbating the problem even more.

Causes of the networking talent shortage

Networking skills have always been hard to come by as every enterprise has different networking infrastructure needs.

But global expansion, continuing cloud adoption, network optimization, Infrastructure as a Service options and even AI adoption mean the required networking skills for integration and network management become more and more hard to find.

Causes of the AI talent shortage

When it comes to AI, the technology is advancing quicker than the talent market can keep up.

There’s also an air of the unknown when it comes to large-scale implementation and this causes a strain on sourcing and recruiting the right AI skills. The IDC InfoBrief, Enterprise Horizons 2024: Technology Leaders’ Priorities on their Digital Business Journey found that 36% of those surveyed were concerned about the ethical and governance issues around implementing AI initiatives, which is understandable as only 13% of those surveyed said they were already operationalizing AI at scale.

That’s a very small pool of case studies to use to direct and resource your own AI transformation plans.

What could the impact of the enterprise IT talent shortage be for you?

The impact of the IT talent shortage can be significant and far reaching. For multi-national enterprises who rely on advanced technology and robust network infrastructure, the IT skills shortage can impact three areas:

  1. 1. Innovation: Not having the right skills in your IT function can hinder innovation and delay the implementation of critical projects. This, in turn, can result in lost revenue and diminished competitive advantage.
  2. 2. Operational efficiency: Without the right skilled professionals to manage and proactively maintain IT systems, companies may experience increased downtime, slower response times, and compromised security. Which could lead to customer dissatisfaction and even reputational damage.
  3. 3. Employee morale: If your IT team is stretched, you may see them drowning in tickets and unable to carry out high-value projects. This can impact morale and increase turnover rates. Staff may also experience burnout, leading to decreased productivity and engagement. Ultimately, this creates a vicious cycle where your existing IT talent pool becomes even more strained.

What can you do to attract and retain the IT talent you need to remain competitive?

To address the IT skills shortage, a multi-faceted approach can help you attract and retain the right talent for your transformation and network needs.

Look to implement a combination of the following strategies.

Upskilling and reskilling programs

Upskilling and reskilling programs are a great way to show your employees you’re invested in them long term. PWC invested $1bn to upskill 65,000 people in generative AI to plug the skills gap and help their teams adapt to new ways of working. But Upskilling and reskilling programs need to be handled properly to have the maximum impact.

BCG data shows that 68% of workers are willing to reskill to remain competitively employed. However, people are more inclined to spend time on something – away from their core responsibilities – if they feel reassured that it won’t cost them too much time, effort or risk their current role. So it’s important to ensure your reskilling programs are organized effectively.

Professional development opportunities:

Related to the strategy above, offering professional development and a clear career path can support your retention efforts and attract new talent to your open positions.

Provide continuous learning and development programs, including certifications, workshops, and training sessions. Retention is 34% higher among employees who have opportunities for professional development. Investing in their career growth allows you to retain knowledgeable and skilled talent within your organization for years to come.

At Expereo we have implemented our own professional development programs via annual performance reviews and goal setting. This supports and enables our teams with upskilling initiatives and to create career progression opportunities.

Flexible work policies:

According to LinkedIn, 98% of workers want hybrid working models for the rest of their careers. Offering hybrid or flexible work policies can improve work-life balance and job satisfaction.

At Expereo we offer our teams a hybrid working policy. With a flexible working environment in place, we're seeing increased productivity and we're supporting our teams' work-life balance.

This flexibility is particularly appealing to IT professionals who value autonomy and control over their work environment.

However, when it comes to remote working and the IT skills gap we come full circle. Some of the biggest challenges when it comes to supporting remote working are IT related. In the IDC InfoBrief, Enterprise Horizons 2024: Technology Leaders’ Priorities on their Digital Business Journey, it was identified that 41% of technology leaders find it challenging to secure remote employees’ IT assets (visibility, configuration, usage behavior, updates, etc.) and 28% said IT support for remote workers was a challenge.

So the more remote workers you have, the greater your IT resource needs. And we’re back to the IT skills shortage again.

However, there is a solution.

How Managed Service Providers can help you plug the IT skills gap

Using Managed Service Providers (MSPs) is a popular choice when it comes to supplementing and supporting internal IT functions. The IDC InfoBrief, Enterprise Horizons 2024: Technology Leaders’ Priorities on their Digital Business Journey, revealed that 49% of respondents were expecting to increase their use of MSPs to support with networking, 46% said cybersecurity, and 40% said cloud.

By partnering with specialist MSPs, like Expereo, you can ensure you have the necessary skills to tackle complex IT challenges. You can resource transformation projects, network optimization, management and more without having to hire. Not only are you saved from rising hiring costs (due to competition, the costs of specialist IT skills are increasing), you gain a cost-effective way to access the skills and resource you need on demand. As your transformation plans progress and your network becomes more complex, you can scale services up and down as needed allowing you to manage your cost base.

You can also tackle your different skill needs for your different locations without having to navigate the local talent market. For instance, if you wanted to scale up your LATAM branch networks you may struggle to find local specialists with SD-WAN and SASE skills due to the peering challenges across South America. However, an MSP can provide in-region support and has relationships with the local and neighboring nations’ Internet Providers to tackle any issues on your behalf. This adaptability is particularly useful as you can tackle large-scale projects without overburdening your existing IT team. Allowing them to focus on their high-value tasks and career-building activities.

MSPs mean you can leverage new technologies quickly as they stay up-to-date with the latest technology and industry best practices. Providing their clients with cutting-edge solutions and ensuring compliance with regulatory standards.

It’s a win, win, win as you overcome the skills shortage, your employees stay motivated and driven, and you gain the IT and networking expertise you need to drive your business towards its digital future.

Looking for the right MSP to support your IT and networking needs?

Overcome your IT skills gap and support your existing team with our comprehensive solutions.

We act as an extension of your teams and your transformation goals become our goals. Through our 20+ years of experience working with the Internet, we ensure you gain fit-for-purpose networks anywhere you need them. With our digital-first mindset, we can guide you towards your digital future, allowing you to transform your business.

Get in touch today to discuss your needs.

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