67 per cent of organisations cannot afford to invest sufficient time or budget into resolving skills issues in their business, according to research.

The survey, which questioned over 100 IT and HR managers, also revealed that, when funds and time allow, 44 per cent of businesses do initially address a skills shortage by training existing staff, but one in four still tackle a skills problem first by recruiting new staff. When questioned, 15 per cent of respondents admit to finding it difficult to even identify what skills they lack in the business.

I am really surprised that only one in three businesses in the UK are making the time and investing the money into training existing staff. People, together with their skills, are the most important part of any business, and those who fail to invest in their employees’ development will fail to deliver business value from their IT systems, value which is essential to business survival in today’s economic climate.

When quizzed what up-skilling would bring to their organisation, an increase in quality of work (32 per cent) and productivity (29 per cent) were specifically rated higher by respondents than moving ahead of the competition (15 per cent). Furthermore, despite the media hype of a huge IT skills shortage in the UK, 62 per cent of managers rated their IT department good and 21 per cent excellent.

To add to this, 50 per cent of respondents felt that the level of IT skills within their IT department had improved over the last five years, with 32 per cent feeling it remained the same, suggesting only a need for skills improvement in certain organisations.

It’s encouraging to see that IT and HR managers are impressed with their IT department’s skills, but I really question whether they’re looking ahead to what skills IT staff will need in the next five to ten years. Yes, they may have all the technical skills they need in keeping up with the latest technology platforms, but these are becoming more an entry level to IT jobs and candidates will also need to demonstrate softer skills such as a ‘can do’ attitude, team player and adaptability.