Skills shortages have always been a fact for CIOs. Today, however, the job market is tighter than ever and CIOs face multiple challenges.
Still, a recent Pluralsight study suggests that IT employers could do more to retain their workforce by retraining them to take on bigger and better roles.
This is what the situation looks like from the perspective of the IT professionals surveyed. Four in 10 (37%) IT professionals are not very confident that their technical skills are being used to their full potential. Three in ten (29%) are not confident that their current job offers opportunities for growth. IT professionals also say they face barriers to upskilling:
- 47% say they are too busy and other demands on their time are getting in the way of learning.
- 33% identify cost constraints for employers
- 27% blame a “distracting work environment”
If this all sounds a bit negative, let’s take a look at the potential benefits of upskilling existing employees:
- Employees now generally view opportunities to learn and grow on the job as the main driver of a positive work culture. This in turn makes employees happier at work and encourages them to recommend working for their employer
- Upgrading the skills of existing employees is cheaper than trying to hire new talent (new remote employees typically cost up to 20% more than retrained employees, they get lower performance evaluations in the first two years, and they have higher outflow rates)
- McKinsey estimates that effective retraining results in productivity gains of between 6% and 12%
- In general, employers believe that offering short courses to learn new skills has a greater positive impact on their business than other options, such as longer courses or hiring apprentices.
Upskilling existing employees is a powerful response to the tight labor market conditions. One of the major companies targeting homegrown talent is BT, which has invested heavily in helping its IT staff develop skills suitable for the cloud and agile development.
In particular, BT’s upskilling modules are concise, helping to overcome objections based on employees being “too busy”. As Deepak Channa, former BT Director of QA and Test at BT, puts it: “The moment people see that a development session lasts an hour, they switch off. We wanted a learning solution that could be used in a 10-minute break.”
One of the more intriguing conclusions in Pluralsight’s research is that 52% of IT professionals are considering leaving their jobs at least once a month.
You could say that think about something is not the same as doing the. But the evidence suggests that employees act on their minds. For example, based on a survey of 2,000 employees, LinkedIn reports that those who feel their skills are not being used properly are ten times more likely to look for a new job.
Faced with these kinds of opportunities, it’s clear that CIOs need to seriously consider whether they’re making the most of the talent they already employ.