March 13, 2012 – Enterprises are sharply divided on expanding the overall skill sets at their IT departments, and most have a dedicated little to no resources toward finding what may be missing, according to a new IT department assessment from CompTIA.

The nonprofit IT advocacy group compiled responses from results from more than 500 U.S. IT officers and related department managers for its report, entitled, “State of the IT Skills Gap.” The report assessed existing and expected IT skills for 31 distinct capabilities arranged under three primary categories – infrastructure, information management, and applications/Internet.

Regardless of enterprise size, the top concerns over IT skills cycled between four areas: cybersecurity; servers and data center management; networks and infrastructure; and databases and information management. But there were some notable differences among enterprises of different size and focus. For example, larger enterprises put more emphasis on IT skills related to virtualization, SharePoint, ERP and big data than their smaller counterparts, which were keen on IT skills with mobile devices and online search. Mid-sized businesses registered the importance of speed-to-market with new products or services as a high level of concern. Those priorities also reflects where certain aspects of IT have been implemented or matured, according to the report. Hot industry topics like cloud computing, Hadoop and mobile application management carried relatively low levels of concern, in terms of IT skills, as those aspects of skills are only beginning to proliferate across many enterprises.

Overall in the past two years, 42 percent of respondents stated the gap across these various skills in their IT departments had increased significantly or moderately. During that same time, 29 percent reported that their IT departments had made significant or moderate gains in their skill set, which CompTIA attributed to a mixture of industry needs and IT training.

The dynamic nature of the tech industry was the top cause cited for the lack of skills. However, not far behind were a lack of resources for IT skills development and the absence of training and education that reflects actual workforce performance. And none of that can factor in what CompTIA called “not knowing what you don’t know” – the lack of resources to assess what IT skills may be missing. More than half (56 percent) of respondents said there is no skills gap assessment at their enterprise, and another 29 percent noted an ad hoc approach to IT skills.

The answer to this according to the majority of those in the survey is to train, or re-train, existing staff, though 38 percent stated they would outsource work to acquire the expected skills and 28 percent stated they would hire new staff.

In a research question that allowed multiple responses, the top business areas impacted by this skills shortage were staff productivity (41 percent), customer service and engagement (32 percent) and information security (31 percent).

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