Graphical representation of upskilling, with a man in a suit climbing stairs to reach a target.
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Upskilling must become an organizational imperative to cope with an ongoing and dramatic lack of sufficient IT talent globally, a new report finds.

Progress is being made, however. Fifty-two percent of global respondents said their organization has a formal upskilling (training) program, according to the 2022 global report from the DevOps Institute, Upskilling IT. In comparison, only 32% indicated that they had one in the institute’s 2021 research.

The report cited PwC and Salesforce as two companies that have developed successful upskilling programs and are “excellent examples to learn from.”

PwC has created the Digital Fitness app2 with training tools for various in-demand topics such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and augmented reality, according to the report. Employees and others can earn micro-degrees and certifications through the app, which is now available to the public.

In the case of Salesforce, its Trailhead3 digital upskilling program allows learners to develop in-demand skills and earn credentials. Participants start by selecting a career path such as developer or data analyst and then complete the “trail” for that career, the report said.

Lack of human talent still a massive organizational challenge

Because many organizations are upgrading their legacy systems, they need to introduce new capabilities but are hampered by technical debt, making it too difficult to do so. Insufficient resources and a skills gap is one of the top three challenges facing IT organizations, according to 40% of respondents the report said—and it is expected to continue for years to come.

By 2030, the global talent shortage will rise to more than 85 million people. Left unchecked, in 2030, the talent shortage could result in about $8.5 trillion in unrealized annual revenues, the report said.

Further, only 29% of tech companies have the right IT talent. By 2026, there will be a global shortage of over 545,000 software developers, the DevOps Institute report said.

The most acute skills gaps are around cognitive (47%), technical (47%), and process and framework skills (45%).

SEE: The COVID-19 gender gap: Why women are leaving their jobs and how to get them back to work (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Top 5 must-have IT skills

There are five skill capabilities required for a successful IT transformation are

  1. Process and framework skills (57%)
  2. Human skills (54%)
  3. Technical skills (52%)
  4. Automation/automation tool knowledge skills (49%)
  5. Leadership skills (49%)

Process and framework include a variety of different frameworks and processes applied within IT organizations. Human skills include emotional intelligence, psychological safety, dynamic learning and transformational leadership.

A variety of technical skills are critical, including elastic infrastructure, containers, microservices, containers, APIs, serverless, DevOps toolchains, open source and security management. Ninety-two percent of respondents identified security and cybersecurity as critical or important.

The automation skills capability includes software engineering and support automation, the ability to understand process flow and the reengineering of tasks, processes and procedures with the goal to replace manual processes, tasks or events with automation.

Leadership skills encompass leading, coaching, guiding and decision making.

When it comes to comparing skills capabilities on pre- vs. post-pandemic priorities, “there seems to be a dramatic change in the across-the-board reduction in the designation of must-have skills,’’ the report stated. “While caveats apply to interpret the results, we suspect that organizations are becoming less demanding in their hiring practices for must-have skills due to the shortage of skills in the post-pandemic world.”

Priorities for CIOs, CFOs and their business partners

The report also noted trends gleaned from the institute’s research on the priorities of CIOs, CFOs and their business partners this year. Among them:

The technology predictions from different market research vendors align

Market research firms such as Gartner, Forrester and IDC agree on the continued growth of cloud, containers, smart infrastructure, security, hyper-automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning and security, just to name a few. In line with these predictions are the growth plans across these topics in 2022. Additionally, 59% of global CIOs said that tech budgets have increased for 2022 and will be back at pre-pandemic levels to ensure the availability of technology for innovation.

SEE: Hiring kit: Data scientist (TechRepublic Premium)

Disruptive technical skills pay more

As defined by Burning Glass, disruptive means are high-value skills that not everyone has. While employers need people with such skills, they also need to pay premiums for individuals having them.

Leading organizations are evolving their workforce development strategies based on the strategic goals of the business

Sixty-nine percent of survey respondents confirmed that they match the skill needs to the business outcome they want to achieve, or they predict which skills are required by evaluating the current skill level within a team.

Don’t get overwhelmed by the vast number of technical skills

Many DevOps Institute community members reported being overwhelmed by which technical skills they should expand on. The must-have technical skills for the IT enterprise are understanding cybersecurity and modern compute technologies such as serverless, microservices, container orchestration, and application technologies.

Leaders and individual contributors are mostly aligned on the top must-have technical skills

When analyzing the difference between how leaders and individual contributors would rate the importance of a variety of human skills, there were no differences.

The report included more than 58,000 data points from 2,476 survey respondents in 120 countries, the DevOps Institute said.

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