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Business operations impacted by widening IT skills gap, new CompTIA study reveals

Eight in ten organizations say their business operations are impacted by gaps in the skill sets of their information technology (IT) staffs, according to new research published today by CompTIA, the non-profit association for the IT industry.

The dynamic, fast-changing nature of technology and a lack of training resources are the biggest factors contributing to the skills gap, CompTIA’s State of the IT Skills Gap study reveals. To close the gap, a majority of companies surveyed say they intend to devote more resources to training.

“Even as the importance of technology to business success grows exponentially, few organizations are exactly or even very close to where they want to be with technology utilization and staff skill levels,” said Terry Erdle, executive vice president, skills certification, CompTIA. “These gaps are hampering business success.”

The CompTIA study shows that IT skills shortcomings impact staff productivity (cited by 41 percent of responding companies), customer service and engagement (32 percent) and security (31 percent). It also impacts speed to market for IT businesses at a higher rate (34 percent) than other industries (20 percent). Profitability is also affected, with 23 percent of small companies feeling the pinch on the bottom line compared to 15 percent of large and medium firms.

“Millions of businesses are clearly not where they want to be when it comes to optimizing their utilization of technology and in the skill levels of their IT staffs.” Erdle said. “Even modest improvements in these two areas would yield tremendous benefits in operational efficiencies, business productivity and economic growth.”

Erdle is scheduled to speak later today on the IT skills gap issue at the National Association of Workforce Boards Forum 2012 in Washington, D.C.

IT Priorities Provide Clues to Skills Needs

Companies say their IT workers come up short in skills in both existing core areas such as security, data storage, refreshing aging equipment, improving network infrastructure and disaster recovery and business continuity; and emerging areas such as business process automation, mobility, collaboration and virtualization.

“With core technologies, new options for their usage translate to the need for more and different skills,” said Amy Carrado, director, market research, CompTIA. “Emerging areas will require IT staff and end users to have sufficient new knowledge bases and skill sets to maximize the return on technology investment.”

Nearly six in ten organizations (57 percent) intend to address their IT skills gap challenges by training or retraining existing staff in areas where skills are lacking.

“The expected commitment to more education is an encouraging sign,” Erdle said. “IT professionals have a strong propensity for lifelong learning and skills enhancement, so the large majority will welcome the opportunity to broaden their knowledge. An investment in new IT education and training will deliver strong return on investment to the business’s bottom line.”

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