Career Watch: Staffing needs in the cloud

Q&A: Greg Pierce

The cloud strategy officer at Tribridge discusses staffing needs after moving to the cloud.

When a company moves IT operations to the cloud, what does that mean for its IT staff? It's a misconception that moving to the cloud means the company will clean house of all current staff. However, the current IT staff does need to hone new skills. They need to consider the move to the cloud as a challenge, embracing the expansion of their skill set. Their day-to-day tasks will definitely morph, but if the IT employees can remain open to adapting their skills, they are going to be far more valuable to the organization and less likely to be phased out.

What kinds of adjustments are needed in training and other areas? Decision-makers need to clearly communicate from the outset what cloud provisioning will mean for the organization's employees. Proper, formal training is crucial to the future success of the current IT staff, and this expectation should be communicated. Areas of focus for the cloud should be project management and interpersonal communication, because the in-house IT staff will be dealing directly (and more frequently) with both users and the cloud provider.

How can IT staffers proactively prepare for what might be an inevitable shift to the cloud? I've seen a lot of resistance to the cloud by IT professionals because they believe they will no longer have a position within the organization. Instead, they need to take a proactive approach to researching cloud solutions that fit their organization's goals and mission so that they can become an integral part of the decision-making process. It's a mindset. It's not a matter of if companies are going to the cloud, but rather when.

Sounding the Skills Gap

As is evident from the findings of Computerworld's 2012 Salary Survey, there's a gap between the skills IT workers have and the tech skills employers are seeking. And a recent CompTIA survey offered further evidence of that gap, finding that only 7% of companies consider the skills possessed by their IT staffs to be exactly where they want them to be.

Among the topics the CompTIA survey explored are the IT skills that companies consider to be most important, the business areas that the organizations feel are affected by the skills gap, and the perceived causes of the gap.

These charts offer a look at some of the highlights of CompTIA's findings.

How close are your IT staff's skills to where you want them to be?

Exactly where we want them to be: 7%
Very close: 37%
Moderately close: 46%
Not that close: 9%
Not at all close: 1%

What business areas does the IT skills gap

negatively affect in your organization?

Large companies Midsize companies Small companies
Staff productivity 44% 43% 41%
Customer service/engagement 33% 34% 26%
Cybersecurity 32% 39% 29%
Innovation/product development 29% 33% 23%
Speed to market 25% 31% 15%
Profitability 15% 15% 23%
Note: Multiple responses allowed.

What factors do you feel contribute to the IT skills gap?

Fast-changing technology: 46%
Lack of resources for IT skills development: 43%
Training has not sufficiently translated to performance: 39%
IT pay too low in some areas: 29%
Difficulty of providing on-the-job training: 23%
Competition for a limited pool of skilled IT workers: 20%
Insufficient focus on science, technology, engineering and math education: 15%
IT careers do not attract the best and the brightest: 10%

Note: Multiple responses allowed.

How do you plan to address the IT skills gap?

Train or retrain existing staff: 57%
Outsource the work: 38%
Hire new staff with desired skills: 28%
Support programs designed to boost science, technology, engineering and math education: 6%

Note: Multiple responses allowed.

Source: CompTIA State of the IT Skills Gap survey of 500 U.S. IT and business executives, conducted online in December 2011 and January 2012.

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