February 14, 2017 • Amanda Pullman
Why the Skills Gap Solution Is Different Than You’d Expect
If you’ve tried to fill an open IT role lately, then you’ve found out first-hand just how difficult it is to bring a skilled tech professional onto your team. Weeks or months likely went by to no avail, as applicant after applicant failed to fit your opening 100%.
Those that hire in IT often perceive the existence of a skills gap. Unfortunately for these hiring managers, there is very little alleviation coming in the immediate future as 75% of high schools do not currently offer computer programming courses. Throwing money at the problem by escalating bidding wars with higher IT salaries is a short-term and increasingly costly solution. In fact, the strongest skills gap solution may be different than you’d expect.
Training Can Be the Answer
Since hiring managers cannot rely on finding an abundance of fully-qualified candidates in the foreseeable future, the biggest skills gap solution lies in training. Imagine interviewing a candidate that meets 80% of the criteria for a role. Instead of writing off this applicant as unqualified, the most successful companies will continue considering the candidate’s skill set to determine if they can be trained into the role.
Candidates that are trainable can end up being your most valuable employees, as their skill set can grow with a role and evolve as your organization does. If they can potentially be trained into a fully-qualified candidate quickly, then they should be strongly considered. Not only does this produce the talent needed, but it also fosters a strong loyalty that money cannot buy.
Specific training can take various forms. While internships are excellent ways to bring early-career candidates up to speed, training for higher-level positions should be framed a bit differently. Promoting the relationship with their direct supervisor as a “mentorship” is an effective way to make an employee of any level more comfortable with the notion of additional training. Knowing that they have a mentor to turn to with any questions will create an open environment best conducive to imparting new abilities.
Certifications are an additional avenue of training that target specific skills. Programs involve a great amount of studying and testing as well as various levels of distinction that one can earn as they improve a skill and move deeper into a certification. Often the most cost-effective method to provide hard skills, it can be in an employer’s best interest to sponsor the certification of fresh employees in the area they lack. For example, a Project Manager with three years of focused experience would benefit from pursuing the PMP certification to best round out their skill set and gain a fuller breadth of expertise that typically comes from longer career experience.
Consider Contract or Consulting Resources
Short-term projects are a natural place to hire contract workers to come in with expertise for a pre-defined amount of time. It’s often easier to hire a temporary employee to accomplish specialized tasks such as transitioning from legacy data management software than it is to train someone for that specific task. Why spend the time and money imparting that skill to your permanent employees when the use of that skill is finite?
Permanent roles can also benefit from contract work. If there is trouble locating a permanent employee for an opening, consider if the role can be broken up for temporary experts to thrive in. Looking for a computer programmer in a rare language? Try to plan out six-month programming tasks in advance and it will likely be easier to find two contractors per year than to find one permanent expert.
Nearly 50% of CIO’s are planning to turn to contingent workers to fill roles as the gig economy grows. If the available IT workforce continues to move toward becoming freelance experts and away from traditional permanent employment, organizations may be forced to rethink the nature of their own openings.
Outsourcing & Consulting Can Be Your Skills Gap Solution
Sometimes it can seem impossible to find a candidate who can be trained or even locate a temporary specialist. In those cases and more, outsourcing with an expert IT consulting firm is the fastest and most cost-effective option. The right organization to assist in your skills gap solution should be one that has cultivated relationships with the best and brightest IT talent, both in skills and personality, and that skillfully matches their abilities with your requirements. At SMART Resources, this is the approach we have refined for more than 20 years.
If you’re finding it difficult to locate the right talent or would like to further discuss strategies to improve hiring, contact us today.
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