The Impact of Emerging Technologies: Almost Half of U.S. Executives Report Widening Skills Gaps

Tuesday Jul 4th 2017 by Jeff Goldman
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But just a third of companies have a formal process and resources in place to address skills gap challenges, a recent survey found.

A recent CompTIA survey of 600 U.S. executives found that 46 percent believe skills gaps in their organizations have grown over the past two years -- not just in technology, but also in marketing, sales and business development, operations, customer service, and accounting and finance.

Still, just one third of respondents have a formal process and resources in place to address skills gap challenges -- and 54 percent said they struggle to identify and assess skills gaps among their workforce.

"Knowing what to fix must precede discussions of how to fix it, and to fix it soon," CompTIA senior director of research and market intelligence Amy Carrado said in a statement. "The breadth and pace of innovation point to a widening skills gap, putting further pressure on organizations."

And organizations leveraging emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics and IoT, Carrado said, face even greater skills gaps. "It takes time for training materials to reach the market and for opportunities to gain hands-on experience to arise," she said. (A recent eSecurity Planet article offered advice on securing the Internet of Things.)

Addressing the Challenge

Larger companies are more likely to be aware of the problem -- 57 percent of large companies report a growing skills gap, compared to 44 percent of medium-sized firms and 47 percent of small companies.

"The 'skills gap' is often a catch-all phrase for other workplace challenges, such as a labor supply gap or generational differences in work styles," CompTIA executive vice president for social innovation Charles Eaton said. "But whatever the cause there is clearly a wide chasm between the skills employers want and their perception of the skills their workers have."

Respondents said the impact of skills gaps range from lower staff productivity and sales to deficiencies in innovation and new product development.

The top cited strategies for addressing skills gap challenges, according to the report, are as follows:

  1. Better ways to provide on-the-job experience, such as internships
  2. Better ways to provide intense job training, such as apprenticeships
  3. Early student exposure to careers in IT
  4. Certifications/credentials to validate skills and knowledge
  5. Better assessments/methods for evaluating the skills of job candidate

A Focus on Experience

Separately, a Tripwire Twitter poll of 659 respondents recently found that the biggest barrier to entry when pursuing a career in information security is lack of experience, followed by a lack of certifications or education.

And earlier this year, an ISACA study found that 59 percent of organizations surveyed receive at least five applications for each cyber security job opening, and just 13 percent receive 20 or more.

More than a quarter of respondents said it can take six months or longer to fill priority cyber security and information security positions.

Twenty-five percent of respondents said today's cyber security candidates are lacking in technical skills, and 55 percent said practical, hands-on experience is more important than other cyber security qualifications.

"Employers are looking for candidates to make up for lost time but that doesn't necessarily mean a significant academic investment," ISACA CEO Matt Loeb said in a statement. "Many organizations place more weight in real-world experience and performance-based certifications and training that require far less time than a full degree program."

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