Cloud services vendor INAP published on Thursday a survey of IT professionals that points to a problem: Half of them believe new IT pros are unprepared for a career in the modern IT landscape.

Even more shocking is what those same professionals said about their own levels of preparedness: 71% said they don’t feel properly trained on “all of the different types of server and cloud infrastructure that we use and plan to use in the near future.”

When combined, those two figures are shocking. It’s easy to understand that veteran IT professionals may feel underprepared for the newest forms of technology: They trained on older tech, and many are far too busy fighting day-to-day fires to tackle the training needed to reach proficiency in new enterprise products.

Given the hectic pace of the IT world, it would make sense to put a certain amount of faith in new professionals who have trained with newer forms of IT hardware and software. But with half of IT veterans concerned things are not looking good.

Where IT success lies

Just because IT professionals are busy does not mean they are not learning. While the survey found that 53% of professionals have filled between two and five different professional roles in their careers (only 5% say they’ve managed to maintain a singular focus), it also found that nearly half (47%) take it upon themselves to train in new skills at least monthly.

Despite their constant drive to learn, only 45% of survey respondents believe their organization takes full advantage of their skills. That may make sense in a way: With technology constantly changing, experienced IT professionals may find that much of what they’ve spent time learning is quickly rendered obsolete.

With technology shifting so rapidly–and with IT professionals increasingly needing to be versed in a wide variety of skills–the question of how to succeed becomes less about training, the survey said, and more about the core values that make a successful IT professional.

INAP identified a list of character attributes respondents said are most valuable for IT professionals, and these five apply to both veterans and newcomers:

  1. Innovativeness
  2. Drive
  3. Flexibility
  4. Leadership
  5. Curiosity

“Soft skills like emotional intelligence, innovativeness, business acumen and flexibility have become just as important as technical know-how,” said Jeff Atkinson, CIO at INAP. “They will only grow increasingly necessary for modern IT professionals as their departments become more aligned with the goals of the business.”

The survey concludes with an important question, and it is one that IT pros need to ask themselves, and that IT leaders and CXOs need to be receptive to: “How can enterprises create the space needed for the growth and evolution of their professionals?”

IT leaders should take the time to survey their team in order to find out how they feel about the state of their department. Find out if team members feel prepared, what they need to get to a better level of preparedness, and how leadership can help them meet their goals.

Leaders also need to make accommodations for their team. Take the time to have team training, make resources available, and give opportunities for extracurricular work that includes some incentive for spending personal time learning new things.

IT professionals need to be honest with themselves, their team members, and their leaders: If you’re in the trenches you know what’s needed to succeed, and it is up to you to make sure it’s brought to your leader’s attention and not forgotten about in the haze of day-to-day troubleshooting.

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