Tech employees log long hours, meaning they get a lot of hands-on experience, but they're not getting the training and other types of enrichment they need to develop their careers. "In addition to your 50-plus hours a week, you need in-depth coursework to refresh your skills, plus studying to sit for certifications," says Weinman. At many companies, employees used to be able to take time for those types of pursuits during the workday, but not anymore.
"Those who want to stay relevant have to work very hard" -- at work and during off-hours, says Weinman, who is a member of the ISACA Leadership Development Committee. ISACA is an IT professional association that, among other things, provides security certifications.
The Current Gap
Weinman is one of several employment experts who say they see a clear gap between the talent that employers are seeking and the talent that's available. "It's very difficult to find people who have deep skills in security on mobile devices, infrastructure, network security, advanced persistent threats or mainframe skills," he says. "People who have those skills are becoming a smaller percentage of the overall population."
Suzanne Fairlie is also hearing how difficult it is to find people with certain skills -- but she says the gap involves a different set of skills. Fairlie, president of ProSearch, a nationwide executive search company with a strong focus on CIO placement, took a back-of-the-envelope survey of 12 CIOs with whom she has worked recently.
The Future of IT...
- Smaller IT departments.
- Tech positions embedded within business units.
- Fewer purely technical jobs.
- Broader job descriptions.
- Many outsourced functions.
- Demand for people who know multiple technologies.
- Strategic, analytic and communication skills at a premium.
...And How to Thrive
- Make career management your No. 1 skill.
- Pursue training and certifications -- on your own time and on your own dime, if necessary.
- Aim to solve business problems, not tech problems.
- Develop soft skills like communication.
- Either commit to an industry and build business skills...
- ...or develop deep IT skills and work for an outsourcer or service provider.
- Consider consulting.
"To a person, everybody validated that there is a gap," she says. But it's not necessarily a gap in deep technical skills; it primarily involves the strategic skills that managers are increasingly demanding of everyone in their departments.
The list includes "business analysis skills, relationship skills, understanding the value of IT to the organization, navigating internal politics," says Fairlie. "Those are hard to come by, and yet, they're so essential."