The low acquisition costs of technology, along with its efficiency and precision, make the benefits of using it in business undoubted. As a result of this, the number of companies looking to invest in IT professionals or firms continues to grow.
However, despite this, ICT in schools is often neglected. What is more, with technology constantly evolving many school, college and university courses, not to mention NVQ qualifications, are quickly becoming outdated and irrelevant. The result of this is a growing skills gap in the technology market.
IT In Business
Technology and business are practically inseparable today. Without technology and computers, the routine business functions that are the backbone of an organisation would be severely hampered.
With this in mind, well defined and formal IT skills training for young people moving into the workplace is vital. However, throughout the education system, little focus is often given to accruing basic IT skills, never mind more advanced ones. Despite its use becoming more and more prevalent across all industries, ICT often takes a backseat in UK schools and universities, particularly when compared with other core subjects such as English and Maths.
In fact, only recently the education secretary announced a radical revamp of the current information and communications technology (ICT) curriculum which he described as “demotivating” and “dull”. From September, it will be replaced by a flexible curriculum in computer science and programming, designed with the help of universities and industry.
The Current Skills Gap
In the meantime, the out-of-date school curriculum, not to mention the archaic content of many college and university IT courses has led to a shortage of qualified, experienced IT applicants with the right set of skills.
Training organisations hold a very essential role in closing the skills gap, as they have the expertise that most companies are missing to set up valuable infrastructures. More than half of UK companies are now proactively addressing their IT skills shortage by training or re-training existing staff for the skills they require. Ongoing skills development and resources are also crucial for keeping up with changing business challenges.
Succession planning is another effective way of enabling employees to develop relevant IT skills which will improve their performance in work. What is more, the market for highly skilled and competent IT professionals remains fiercely competitive, so it is essential for businesses to ensure that there are a number of potential internal replacements with the necessary capabilities who are ready to move into critical positions if the current incumbent moves to another role.
Certainly, business owners will get the best return on investment by making sure that the training undertaken by their staff is delivered in a format that best suits the individual’s learning needs, as well as the learning style of the organisation. Furthermore, they need to ensure that they are utilising all possible options to meet those needs, whether it be online learning, social learning, mentoring or work shadowing.
It is therefore crucial now, more than ever, for businesses to seek input from IT trainers and professionals about what they can do to train existing staff, as well as new starters.The skills themselves are not the issue, rather the need for well-defined, formal training processes which are recognised and supported from the top. Technology is moving rapidly and the increasing skills gap illustrates that businesses alone are struggling to redress the imbalance.