The other skills gap shoe poised to drop

24 April 2015

The workforce is changing rapidly, largely driven by younger generations beginning to flood into the private sector and bringing a whole range of novel preferences, capabilities and technology demands. This has been a growing trend for several years now, and one that has already started to challenge organizations that need employees with more advanced technical skills, of which there are not nearly enough to fill all positions in the private and public sectors today. 

This has also been somewhat of a weighty economic challenge, as studies indicate that the unemployment rate in North America and abroad might be significantly lower if those who are still seeking a job had the right training, certification and education to fill needs. At the end of the day, the debate has turned to making community colleges more affordable in the United States, and working to reform general education at all levels on the global stage. 

Unfortunately, while these pursuits are certainly righteous and one can only hope they come to fruition, the time it will take for the necessary legislation to pass, as well as new students to get their degrees, is far greater than how long the average business can wait to get the talent it needs on hand. As such, a growing suggestion among analysts and advocates is for organizations and professionals to take the initiative and get the training they need to succeed. 

The time to do so is now, as the other shoe in the talent gap trend is poised to drop.

Bye bye, baby boomers
A new report from the National Association of State Chief Information Officers revealed that baby boomers have thus far commonly delayed retirement from the workforce due to economic challenges and other issues, but that this will not last much longer. In fact, the authors of the study pointed out that data from the Society for Human Resource Management found that half of the baby boomer workforce has postponed retirement, while 24 percent are looking to get out early. 

Interestingly, while the majority of professionals who responded to the NASCIO survey stated that they were not worried too much about baby boomers retiring and the impacts it might have, nearly a third cited already experiencing disruption specifically within IT service delivery. When looking at the skills that are in the highest demand but also the most difficult to find in the workforce, 67.3 percent of respondents suggested security, 57.1 percent looked toward application development and 55.1 percent said architecture. 

Past that, business intelligence, mainframe support, project management, cloud services and network support followed in that order. Should state CIOs have continued difficulty staffing their agencies with employees who can handle cloud, security and application development in the coming years, chances are operational disruptions and economic hardship will begin to be experienced. With baby boomers expected to be completely out of the workforce within the next decade or so, moves must be made now to prepare. 

Benefits of training investments
While current workforce members can do themselves a big favor by investing in their own education through desirable skills development such as agile project management courses, business analysis training and security certification, businesses too should be thinking about allocating budget to these assets. After all, the best way to ensure employees have all of the desired skills is to offer them the training opportunities most relevant to the tasks at hand. 

At the end of the day, baby boomers will exit the workforce and the world will have to react in stride. Training and certification can be the best path forward for the public and private sectors in this regard. 

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