Thanks to the ongoing pandemic, hybrid work models and digital business are here to stay in 2022 and beyond. As this digitalization explodes, so does the need for skilled professionals to manage all that technology. Let’s look deeper into what’s driving this persistent and painful IT skills gap, where these skills are needed most and how your organization can successfully address the shortage with three simple and effective institutional changes.
More innovation is on the way
IT pros kept their organizations running through 2020 and into 2021, despite tremendous disruption and constant pivoting during the pandemic. According to the Snow 2022 IT Priorities Report, a survey of 1,000 IT leaders in the U.S., the U.K., Germany, Australia and India, 87% of IT leaders say their organization is prepared to weather global events. More IT leaders also say they currently have an influential seat at the executive’s table, with 90% indicating that they’re a trusted advisor to the business, instead of a one-stop-shop for technology.
What’s on their plate in 2022? The answer is clear — more innovation. Of the survey respondents, 94% say innovation is a top strategic priority, and 76% say their IT budgets for emerging technologies will grow. To drive that innovation over the next five years, they plan to implement more IoT, hybrid cloud, AI, private and public cloud, machine learning, edge computing and other technologies.
Rising innovation calls for new skills
Of course, integrating more emerging technologies fuels the need for more skilled talent. Around 93% of those surveyed say that skills must evolve among their employees to best leverage these new technologies. However, according to Skillsoft’s Global Knowledge 2021 IT Skills and Salary Report, IT still faces a critical skills gap that has increased 145% since 2016.
When asked about the need for more highly skilled IT professionals, a few of our Snow Software team members underscored the unease over evolving requirements. Jesse Stockall, the chief architect at Snow, says nearly everyone has some type of cloud strategy today, so cloud architects are in great demand.
“More languages are also supported now, too. Azure and AWS developers have added more languages than they have taken away. There is more assembling rather than building from scratch. While this is okay, it does add to the complexity.”Jesse Stockall, chief architect at Snow
With the move from traditional, primarily on-prem network security to increasingly cloud-based business, cloud security engineers play more of a role, says Jesse. Data governance and privacy professionals are another growth area he emphasizes, particularly as GDPR grows in prevalence and the volume of data in the cloud grows.
The tech landscape badly needs data scientists, too. As Snow CIO Alastair Pooley described in a recent blog post, new technology brings new data and data-driven strategies, but only after IT understands how to harness the data produced in their entire technology estate. “Understanding and processing data to make it work for the organization is key going forward,” says Becky Trevino, vice president of Snow product marketing.
“The ability to think through data, visualize it and find new insights will be expected table stakes rather than a differentiating skill set.”Becky Trevino, Vice president of Product Marketing at Snow
Data classification, analytics, governance and security skills are also in great demand.
Developer advocates for organizations that build technology products are another employee type we will see more of in 2022. “Savvy companies are fostering community around how customers use their products today,” says Jesse. “As your ecosystem grows larger, you need to be able to support that community.”
Resolutions for change
Within all this change, there is good news. Organizations recognize their evolving needs, and they are ramping up as a result. According to the Snow IT Priorities Report, 69% say their budget for IT practitioners will increase in 2022. This increase in funding provides plenty of new opportunities. Sometimes, however, the best approach to finding the skills you need is training the people you already have.
To address the skills shortage, our team suggests institutionalizing these three approaches in 2022.
1. Fuel the flame of curiosity.
Technology and automation are changing jobs across the board, says Lizzie Burton, executive vice president of people and culture at Snow, and every human will need to “upskill” in the coming years. “The biggest challenge to this is the time it takes,” she explains. “It’s easier for people to fill their days with their to-do list rather than reflecting on what needs to be done differently. Organizations should build excitement and fuel the flame of curiosity at every stage, encouraging people to become continuous learners who constantly challenge themselves.”
2. Upskill existing employees.
Retraining and upskilling existing employees is an easier effort than searching for and hiring new employees, asserts Jesse. Investing in current employees is an important investment that builds team loyalty and it almost always costs less, too.
3. Foster willingness to accept and try new ways of doing things.
The pandemic helped create a sense of urgency to change, says Alastair. “Had a CIO suggested many such changes pre-pandemic, they likely wouldn’t have happened. Shedding legacy technology created opportunities for organizations to try new things, and IT departments now have more acceptance from leadership to take risks. People are also more adaptable.” Lean into this new willingness to try new ways of doing things. You’ll likely be surprised at how well new approaches can work.
Though we won’t likely solve the entire skills gap in 2022, the most logical place to start is by investing in your current team members who have shown such great resilience over the past two tumultuous years. You’ll foster feelings of goodwill and growth as everyone leans into lessons learned, embraces a newfound acceptance for change and ultimately makes positive steps forward.