The skills gap is an ongoing issue in the technology industry. While jobs are plentiful and employers are beginning to recognize non-traditional paths to an IT career, finding and retaining talent remains problematic. And that’s not the only hurdle. Tech employers also need to pay close attention to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and shift workplace cultures to support these initiatives. How do we accomplish all of these things to advance the technology industry and your business?
“Looking ahead, the need for professionals from all backgrounds to develop, support and protect these technologies will continue to grow,” said Todd Thibodeaux, president and CEO of CompTIA in a recent press release about technology job growth. “We have a tremendous opportunity and responsibility to mobilize the best ideas and resources across our industry members, learning partners and government to build on the progress we’ve made.”
CompTIA is focused on advancing the technology workforce through diversity and inclusion efforts and strengthening the talent pipeline—and your membership gives you access to programming, resources, tools and more as well as the opportunity to influence these critical areas.
Tech Skills Gap vs. Tech Skills Shortage
We frequently hear about the “skills gap” in the tech industry. We all know what it is and what it means for the future of our organizations and our industry as a whole. And the skills gap continues to be an issue—as does a skills shortage.
A skills gap describes the difference between an IT pro’s existing skill set and the skills they need to successfully perform their job role. Gaps like this develop due to a lack of continuous training as the tech industry evolves. The skills shortage, on the other hand, refers to a global shortage of qualified personnel for IT positions. Our industry has been feeling the effects of both of these issues for some time now. The question remains: How can we adequately fill the tech talent pipeline?
Prioritizing the Tech Workforce Pipeline: Training & Upskilling
One of the best ways to close the skills gap and tighten up shortages is to encourage IT pros to continue increasing their skill sets. A great way to do this is through IT training and certifications.
According to Nancy Hammervik, CEO of the CompTIA Tech Career Academy and executive vice president of Industry Relations at CompTIA, during an interview on the podcast Technologist Talk, “For the sake of protecting our businesses, it’s really important that we have the right technologists. And for the sake of continuing to be an innovative nation and growing our technology industry, we need the human capital to do it.”
The CompTIA Tech Career Academy trains students with little-to-no IT experience and gives them the technical and soft skills they need to launch a career in as little as 8 weeks. Once training is complete, CompTIA Tech will connect newly-certified job candidates to the right employers—taking a bit of work off of your HR department’s plate.
That’s really what it’s all about. How can we, as a membership organization, help you recruit and retain the talent you need to run a successful business? The CompTIA Advancing Tech Talent and Diversity Community takes that charge to heart. This member community recognizes that technical managers hiring for open positions may start with very specific requirements in an attempt to find the ideal candidate, but in reality, may deliver a very limited pool. In a highly-dynamic environment, HR professionals need to know which candidates have the skills that are close matches for filling roles.
By condensing technology job titles into 13 standard roles and describing both traditional and emerging skills in those roles, The HR Manager’s Guide to Hiring IT Pros, created by the Advancing Tech Talent and Diversity Community, helps hiring managers sort through the IT jargon and find the best candidates to move forward.
The Advancing Tech Talent and Diversity Community offers members the opportunity to design tools to assist in filling current and emerging jobs to help grow and future-proof technology organizations. Join today.
Career Goals vs. Hiring Needs
From a business standpoint, recruiting and retaining top talent is key. But from the industry standpoint, getting people interested in technology is even more important because creating a significant tech talent pool is necessary for recruiting. The point is, you shouldn’t just be concentrating on one of these efforts—but instead on both of them in tandem.
For employers in search of tech talent, programs like apprenticeships address their needs for trained and certified technology professionals. But taking a wider view, programs that help steer individuals onto a tech career path, are in the best interest for all.
Prioritizing the Tech Workforce Pipeline: Apprenticeships
As you know, in technology, hands-on experience is pretty important. We can learn quite a lot from a variety of resources, but actually putting technical skills to practice is how it all comes full circle.
“Apprenticeships hold great promise as a way to close the persistent gap in the supply and demand of technology workers and to do it in a way that is equitable and inclusive,” said Amy Kardel, vice president for strategic workforce relationships at CompTIA. “Apprentices receive hands-on training while earning a good salary, and companies, whether a small business, a mid-sized firm or a multi-national corporation, gain access to a rich new pool of job candidates who have demonstrated their ability and commitment to become valued contributors.”
CompTIA and Maher & Maher have been selected by the U.S. Department of Labor to build an IT apprenticeship program that will expand IT career opportunities for diverse populations.
The new initiative will be built on the Registered Apprenticeship Program model. This allows more employers to participate, providing them access to a diverse group of individuals ready to be trained for a variety of tech occupations, including IT support, network support, cyber analyst and IT project management.
Participating in an apprenticeship program is a win-win situation. Your organization benefits from getting to know and train an individual that may prove to be a great asset to your business—and the trainee generates that all-important hands-on experience that will undoubtedly benefit them in their job search—even if they don’t end up at your company.
Learn more about how CompTIA Apprenticeships for Tech offerings can help you build a skilled workforce.
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI)
While it is encouraging to see companies making commitments and spending money to create programs around equity and inclusiveness, employers really need to rethink their hiring practices to avoid unconscious bias. Since the tech industry has consistently faced hiring shortages and skills gaps, it’s time to expand the pool of candidates who can fill positions and reconsider what qualifications are necessary.
For example, it’s important for employers to return to a mindset of nurturing employees for succession instead of waiting to hire until someone checks off every single box on a job description. Requiring a college degree or other strict prerequisites can also shut out applicants who would otherwise be strong candidates. Ultimately, companies make decisions based on their bottom line—and having a diverse workforce is good for business.
Prioritizing a Trusted Workplace: Creating a Plan
Diversity and inclusion initiatives are not only the right thing for organizations to do, but these programs also make great business sense. What steps should your organization take to help ensure success and what are common mistakes to avoid?
Kassandra Pierre says building a network of allies in the workplace is a great place to start.
“An ally takes time to step into your life personally or professionally and paves the way for you to have a seat at the table,” Pierre said. Allyship requires someone who is willing to speak up on behalf of others and willing to go against the status quo. Of course, hiring managers can also play a role as allies by evaluating your teams, identifying talent and increasing your team’s diversity by creating pathways to join your team.
While providing others an opportunity to grow is essential in building a trusted workplace, there are many other steps we can take. The CompTIA Tech Talent & Diversity Community and the CompTIA Advancing Women in IT (AWIT) Interest Group collaborate to provide specific insight and tools to accomplish diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace.
Some of these resources include:
- 5 Tips for Hiring Without Unconscious Bias
- Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Plan for Technology SMBs
- How to Foster Diversity, Inclusion & Retention
- How to Close the Gender Gap in Tech
- 6 Steps to Cultivate Your Organization’s Existing Talent
For change to happen, it must be demanded by all groups—and it must be an action item.
“You have to be aware of when you’re being inclusive of people because we show up as all of these things all the time,” said Demetria Miles-McDonald, founder and CEO of Decide Diversity. “So, when you’re thinking about policies and programs to make people feel included, you have to look at it from an intersectional perspective.”
The Advancing Tech Talent and Diversity Community offers its members the opportunity to network with peers and participate in initiatives to create more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces in the tech industry. Join today.
Your CompTIA Membership is Advancing the Technology Workforce
As you can see, there’s not just one way to advance the workforce and fill our talent pipeline with qualified, diverse people. In fact, it’s a pretty complex task to take on. Which is why as a CompTIA member, you have multiple opportunities to take advantage of all CompTIA has to offer when building your own tech-ready workforce and contribute your perspective, your ideas and your experiences.
- Get involved in the Advancing Tech Talent & Diversity Community.
- Join the Advancing Women in Technology Interest Group.
- Build a better tech workforce with the CompTIA Tech Career Academy.
- Participate in CompTIA Apprenticeships for Tech.
- Take the Diversity & Inclusion Commitment.
Simply taking advantage of your CompTIA member benefits puts you in the right position to start making a difference for your organization—and the industry.
This article is part 7 in a series designed to break down CompTIA member benefits in a meaningful way for organizations and individuals alike. Read part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5 and part 6.