How Severe is the Technology Skills Gap? Worse Than We Think

Rapidly evolving business priorities and the explosion of artificial intelligence (AI) create a significant challenge—and growing critical skills gaps. According to a new report, “Building Future-Forward Tech Teams” from Robert Half, nearly two-thirds of technology leaders (65%) said they have a skills gap within their department, and 62% feel it has a more significant impact today than a year ago. As a result, priorities for technology leaders in 2024 include:

  1. Security of IT systems and information
  2. AI, machine learning, and automation initiatives
  3. Cloud projects
  4. Technology modernization
  5. Software engineering and development

The combination of a shortage of applicants and significant technology skills gaps could force corner-cutting decisions that may negatively impact business. 90% of tech leaders plan to implement AI initiatives this year, and 48% cite a lack of staff with AI skills as the biggest barrier to success. AI and machine learning topped the list of skills where tech managers said gaps are most evident.

“It has never been more critical to have a talent strategy in place that aligns with your long-term vision and goals,” said Ryan Sutton, executive director for technology talent solutions at Robert Half. “Without a defined hiring and retention plan to help fill technology skills gaps, it will be challenging to achieve objectives and complete mission-critical projects.”

The knowledge and skills needed to work effectively with AI include:

  • Programming
  • Data analysis and statistics
  • Machine learning
  • Software engineering
  • Ethics and responsible AI
  • Big data technologies
  • Deep learning frameworks
  • Computer vision

Robert Half recommends the following strategies:

Seek and develop high-potential candidates. Focus on recruiting technology candidates eager to learn new skills and offer training to promising candidates who may not yet meet all your desired criteria.

Embrace a scalable talent model. Adopt a mix of permanent, contract, and consulting professionals to bridge skills gaps quickly, allowing professionals with specialized expertise to keep projects moving forward and stay agile.

Support upskilling. Implement programs that encourage innovative thinking and ongoing learning.

The study, conducted by an independent research firm in October and November 2023, contains responses from nearly 700 technology leaders at the director level or above at companies with 20 or more employees in the United States.

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