Mr. Apratim Purakayastha, Group Chief Technology Officer, Skillsoft, provides advice for tech job seekers – including biggest skills gaps and top certs – as well as for companies seeking to hire top tech talent.
- With technology outpacing tech skills today, the need for tech professionals to be updated with the latest tech skillset is also a must. What do they need to do to keep up with the pace?
In the fast-paced and disruptive technology industry, preparing for the skills of the future must be a strategic priority. Recent research indicates that 38% of IT leaders believe their existing skills development programmes are being outpaced by the rate of technology change, contributing to the growing skills gap. To keep up with the pace, IT leaders need to take the workforce from where they are now to where they need to be. Training people for the jobs of tomorrow means aligning skills development with business needs — and considering what those needs will be in 10, 20, or 50 years.
- At the same time, there is a huge skills gap in the IT field; what can IT leaders do now to close the skills gap?
To close the skills gaps, IT leaders should:
- Know what skills their organization needs — Again, this goes back to assessing the current skills of the workforce. Then understand the business goals and identify the skills required to meet those goals.
- Reskill and upskill the current workforce — According to Gallup, the cost of replacing an employeecan be two times as high as the employee’s annual salary. Comparatively, upskilling or reskilling is a much smaller investment for a company than recruiting, hiring, and training a new employee. Additionally, upskilling and reskilling employees create a happier workforce. It improves retention, attracts new talent, helps employees see a path to career advancement, and gets them excited about new possibilities.
- Leverage technology — The same advances in technology that are in part contributing to the skills gap can help to close it. Look for trusted, reliable, and most importantly effective learning solutions — a mechanism that accelerates productivity and doesn’t disrupt the flow of work. After all, employees want a marketable and intuitive pathway to learning skills they can use to contribute to the success of the business and build their own capabilities.
- Support ongoing skill development — Invest in skill-centered learning and development, build and embrace a culture of continuous learning, and recognize progress.
- What are the major power skills and tech skills that IT leaders are focusing on for their talent pool?
Regarding tech skills, the top three focus areas include:
- Cybersecurity — Cybersecurity skills are in-demand. For the sixth straight year, IT professionals in this field are the most sought after and cause the biggest headache for IT decision-makers who need to fill these positions. This challenge remains constant on a global scale.
- Cloud computing — Cloud adoption rates are outpacing training, so IT decision-makers struggle to find the right individuals to keep up with evolving technology needs. This is troubling because organizations have invested heavily in cloud programs and services and need cloud architects, administrators, and other experts to ensure those investments pay off.
- Data science — 23% of IT decision-makers report difficulties filling positions related to analytics and big data.
Other areas of concern regarding finding talent are AI and machine learning, and software development. Additionally, a technology professional must be well rounded in certain power skills to be successful. They include:
- Agile mindset – Agile is the new way of working. It is not limited to software development. Being responsive to change and adapting in small increments is key to success.
- Virtual work – Ability to connect across the globe virtually; having emotional intelligence to understand different cultures as teams are getting global. This includes DEI, communication skills, and presentation skills.
- Cybersecurity has become a big threat; how are CISOs (Chief Information Security Officers) ensuring their workforce can mitigate the risks?
For many, one of the answers to the problem has been cybersecurity awareness programs. The traditional approach is a mandated one-off training session where employees read information and answer questions. But as cybercrime costs global businesses over $6 trillion, organisations realise that they must refine how they train their workforce to combat threats effectively. To encourage the workforce to learn about cybersecurity and mitigate risks, CISOs should:
- Introduce regular, individualised training — This equips employees with the tools they need to be more thoughtful about cybersecurity.
- Incorporate blended, continuous learning into daily work — It is essential to see cybersecurity training not just as a one-off quarterly session bolted to the employees’ real work. Instead, it should also be incorporated into the day-to-day activities so there is always a strong engagement with security priorities.
- Keep training up to date — It is critical to ensure that training content and methodologies are continually refreshed.
- Ensure training reflects past trends — By sharing trends, strategies, and new developments as they happen, the workforce will have insight into how the company is being kept safe.
- Ensure data security, privacy, and compliance — Creating a culture of compliance around cybersecurity will help your organisation avoid the risk of regulatory sanctions, costly reparations and incalculable reputational damage and reap a competitive advantage in consumer trust.
- What are the various combinations of tech that give learners a transformative learning experience today?
The key areas of technology delivering transformative learning experience includes artificial intelligence, social and collaborative technologies, and seamless mobility. Artificial intelligence makes learning hyper-personalized with the right content delivered at the right time based on skill gaps deduced from skill benchmarks. Social technologies the badging, goals & reminders, streaks, user-generated content, watch parties, integration with team-based tools, all of them together make learning more natural and attractive for an employee. Additionally, learning must be available on-the-go everywhere. Mobile, tablet, TV experiences have to be first class so that whenever the busy learner has a convenient moment, he or she can access the learning needed in that moment.
- Women tech professionals are outnumbered and hold fewer leadership roles. How can organizations tackle the Diversity Equity Inclusion (DEI) aspect?
Historically, women in the workplace have been undervalued and underrepresented. In fact, globally, women still comprise less than 40% of the workforce. And while there is still a great deal of work to be done, we’re seeing exciting signs of a change. Overall, women started 2022 at the highest rate of labor force participation (57.8%) since before the pandemic. Additionally, leaders are leaning on learning to drive forward motion and positive change. Skillsoft’s latest Lean into Learning report found a 90% increase in enterprise consumption of learning content designed to help women thrive in the workplace last year.
Investments in DEI programs that help narrow the workforce gender gap will not only help women. Organisations and nations are measurably stronger, healthier, more secure, and successful when women have equal opportunity and gain. According to a recent study by Mckinsey, companies with gender-diverse executive teams are 25% more likely to outperform financially. Therefore, organisations must foster a workplace where all employees can learn and do their best at work; this will translate to success throughout the company.