Four in 10 companies hired IT or other technical staff during the pandemic, and two-thirds expect to hire more IT or tech roles in 2021, according to CompTIA's Workforce and Learning Trends 2021 report released Tuesday.
Forty-one percent of organizations will have a new emphasis on communication and emerging technology skills for remote work and 42% expect new efforts to upskill and reskill current employees. CompTIA surveyed 400 HR and workforce learning professionals.
CompTIA predicts a wave of burgeoning skills gaps in the coming years. Emerging infrastructure and hardware, advances in AI and data, digital transformation, people skills for an internet context and prioritization of employee well-being will drive the gaps.
The skills gap of the future is two-pronged; organizations seek IT staff to fill the need for interpersonal and technical skills. Over three quarters (79%) of organizations are pursuing initiatives to address gaps amid a tightening market for IT labor.
Through 2029, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects demand for IT and computer-related occupations to keep going up. In the cloud market alone, Indeed reported job postings per million rose 42% since March 2018.
"The global pandemic accelerated efforts to rethink approaches to developing and supporting our workforces," Nancy Hammervik, CEO of CompTIA Tech Career Academy, said in a statement. "The dual need to create more resiliency and future-proofing of skills, with the critical need to expand and diversify the pipeline of digital-ready workers, is a resounding mandate for change."
Flexibility and adaptability are the top soft skills business and tech executives look for in new hires, according to a past CompTIA survey. Hiring candidates from non-traditional backgrounds is one way CIOs and IT managers can find these skills.
Candidates without college degrees frequently bring a diverse set of skills to the IT workforce, and can be upskilled to learn the technical. Across IT positions, the majority of HR professionals surveyed by CompTIA would possibly or likely consider candidates without a four-year degree.
"If you can stretch your budgets to manage your expenses and you have been working two part-time jobs, you have a motivation and an energy and an instinct that is well-suited to some of the urgent, and sometimes crisis, problem-solving required within tech departments," Bertina Ceccarelli, CEO at NPower, told CIO Dive earlier this year.
Organizations are getting creative when sourcing fresh talent to fill the skills gaps, but internships and apprenticeships can also be a great way to source up-and-coming talent. The entry-level talent is moldable and can be taught to fill the niche needs of a company's IT department with the dedicated leadership to teach them.
Hiring is only the first step toward filling the skills gap for companies. Once the candidate accepts an offer, the business has to create an experience that makes top talent want to stay. Talent development programs can help keep employees' skills fresh while furthering their careers to help with retention.
"People are at different points in time with their career, but if you're not making sure that they're maximizing their potential and … not effectively giving them the opportunities you should, you're probably going to have retention issues and you're also not going to get as much value out of the talent," said Claus Torp Jensen, chief digital officer and head of technology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, speaking at the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium on Wednesday.