Are you looking to move to the cloud or to bolster cybersecurity this year? If so, you’re not alone—and that’s a problem.
According to the 10th annual IT Skills and Salary Survey by Global Knowledge, cloud computing and cybersecurity are at the top of the list of technology areas organizations are focusing on in 2017. All this interest means an increase in demand for those skills. Unless companies can close the resulting IT skills gap, they may find themselves no closer to their goals in a year than they are now.
It’s not for a lack of trying. Hiring qualified talent has proven to be a significant issue for nearly two-thirds of the survey respondents. While 31% of IT decision makers report having the most difficult time finding cybersecurity talent, 28% identify cloud computing as a challenging hiring area. This doesn’t necessarily mean that companies need to get better at hiring (or that they need to put a Foosball table in the breakroom). On the contrary, there simply aren’t enough skilled professionals to go around.
In the meantime, improving business conditions are directly impacting existing staff. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents to the Global Knowledge survey indicated their workloads are challenging, and 40% reported their workloads are either very challenging or the worst they’ve ever been. Even as they struggle to fill roles to expand the team’s skillset, IT organizations face the very real risk of losing existing staff due to burn out.
The logical answer to any skills gap is training. But that’s a problem, too, when the business wants to get to the cloud (yesterday), the threat landscape continues to expand, and staff members are already overwhelmed with existing work. Who has the time to sit in training for several days or the energy to attend a night class?
Amidst all the bad news, however, there is some good news. The Global Knowledge research shows that IT professionals continue their professional training through a variety of methods. Traditional instructor-led classroom training, which can take staff away from ongoing projects, is just one of several options. At 41%, informal learning sessions at work are the second most popular training method used by the survey respondents, behind only self-paced e-learning.
Regarding informal learning sessions, the report states, “This method involves technical employees sharing content development and the learning experience, and could be as simple as one professional sharing knowledge from a formal course with a co-worker.”
A video collaboration tool can make knowledge sharing easy, particularly for distributed teams. After attending a webcast, conference, or industry MeetUp, for example, staff members can pass on what they learned. They can even share content in real time, effectively reinforcing their own learning as they present the material to the team. Everyone gets the benefit of the information learned at the event without putting work on hiatus or incurring travel costs for multiple team members.
A video collaboration tool can also help IT organizations scale their formal training programs. Only 33% of the Global Knowledge survey respondents rely on formal training sessions at work for at least part of their professional development, indicating that there is plenty of opportunity for IT organizations to expand their formal training programs.
Senior staff members or third-party service providers can be called upon to present training sessions during the work day. With video, the presenter can be located anywhere, and everyone still benefits from face-to-face interaction. Video training sessions can also be recorded for those who can’t attend or later need to review the material.
Training IT staff does much more than ensure that the organization has the necessary skills to achieve this year’s objectives. It also helps improve employee retention. Forty-two percent of those who trained in the last year said they’re fully satisfied with their current position versus 32% of those who did not train. In addition, 22% of those who trained report feeling more secure in their role versus 13% who did not train.
Informal, face-to-face learning sessions contribute even more to retention than other methods of training because it encourages connections within the team. Mattersight conducted a survey on work relationships and discovered that, “65% said they’ve stayed at a job they weren’t completely satisfied with because of the positive emotional relationships they’d developed there.” And when video conferencing is a standard collaboration tool, those relationships can be fostered across any distance.
If your team isn’t hitting its cloud or cybersecurity milestones as quickly as you like, there’s likely a skills gap at play. And asking more of your already over-extended team will do little to motivate them. It may take a little creativity and flexibility, but IT managers can close the skills gap by leveraging video conferencing to make training more accessible while building the connections that improve retention.