How the IT Skills Gap Hits Your Bottom Line

And What To Do About It

Lila Nelms

More than half of all enterprise CIOs expect to struggle with a shortage of IT skills over the next year, according to IDG’s 2015 State of the CIO survey. That percentage rises from 56% to 62% for larger enterprises – perhaps because those organizations are actively pursuing emerging technologies that require more advanced skills such as cloud computing, virtualization, and big data analytics.

A skills gap is more than a mere annoyance to enterprises: it affects the bottom line. A CareerBuilder survey published in March 2014 concludes that, “on average, a company loses more than $14,000 for every job that stays vacant for three months or longer.”

For CIOs charged with helping support and even transform the business while working within a tight budget, filling open positions and closing the IT skills gap can be a great challenge. No matter how motivated employers may be to fill a position, they can’t hire anyone if there are no qualified candidates. And budget constraints may prevent them from getting into a bidding war for a coveted hire.

Solving Today’s IT Skills Gap

But there are several other ways enterprises can successfully close the IT skills gap. The rise of the contract workforce gives CIOs flexibility to hire IT professionals for short-term projects that are ideally suited to their existing skill sets.

Contract jobs can save on payroll and benefits, and they also offer another advantage: CIOs and other IT decision makers essentially can audition potential full-time employees over a period of weeks or months.

A related alternative is contract-to-hire, in which a staffing firm or recruiter will place an IT professional in a temporary job with an enterprise. The difference from a straight contracting job is that the recruiter or staffing company will pay the salary of the worker for the duration of the contract. If an enterprise and contract-for-hire worker hit it off, full-time employment is an option (though the company then has to pay the salary; sorry).

Another alternative to closing the IT skills gap is to train existing employees and promote the future leadership of your enterprise from within. Encourage your most promising IT professionals to pursue training in the latest technologies and reimburse them for their expenses and efforts – after all, you’ll all be benefitting from it. In addition to the career development you can offer in-house, a number of certifying organizations and large technology companies have developed courses and curriculums to teach IT professionals the skills they need to run the enterprises of tomorrow.

By tapping into the resources and expertise of training organizations, CIOs can not only ensure that current IT staffers continue to grow and develop new skills, they can tap into a growing pipeline of IT talent.