Businesses reskilling IT workers as skills gap widens
Australian IT leaders have serious concerns about staff retention and recruitment, according to a new survey by Equinix.
According to the Equinix 2022 Global Tech Trends Survey, 65% of Australian IT decision-makers view a shortage of personnel with IT skills as one of the main threats to their business.
Companies, including Equinix, are looking to widen the talent pool, bringing in more diverse candidates through alternative recruitment drives.
The 2,900 global survey respondents acknowledged the speed at which the tech industry is transforming has left companies struggling to find people with the right skill sets to meet present and future challenges.
The biggest concern in Australia is the retention of current talent (45%), closely followed by changing workforce expectations around ways of working (43%). Further, 39% of Australian respondents also say pay and compensation are challenges.
In Australia, the most in-demand tech employees are IT technicians (33%), data analysis (27%), security architect (24%) and those with an AI/machine learning aptitude (23%). Other skills shortages include cloud computing specialists (22%), mobile development (21%), data protection (21%), security analysis (19%), security engineer (16%) and hardware engineering (16%). IT leaders anticipate the gaps in tech skills will remain similar in the future, with IT technician becoming even more prominent, followed by security analysts and security engineers.
"This survey illustrates the continued shortfall of skilled technology talent available in Australia," says Guy Danskine, Managing Director for Equinix Australia.
"Mirroring similar global trends, IT technicians, security architects, data analysts and cloud computing engineers continue to be the hardest roles to fill," he says.
"The extent of the problem was discussed at the Federal Government's September Jobs and Skills Summit, where industry, union and training organisations discussed ways to help address skill shortages impacting the technology sector.
"To address this talent shortfall, we will continue to seek candidates from diverse talent pools through the broad range of career transition programs Equinix Australia has implemented, such as joining the UTS Lucy Mentoring Program, which helped bring more female engineering and technology students into the data centre industry," Danskine says.
"Since joining the Program, we have recruited a number of student mentees into full time equivalent roles."
In response to skills shortages, many businesses are working hard to reskill people from other areas. Indeed, 56% of Australian IT decision makers said they reskill workers from similar industries, while 34% are trying to bolster their workforce with recruits from unrelated sectors.
The most common sources of reskilled workers are administration and business support (41%), those returning to work after a period of absence (23%), and transportation and warehousing (21%). These reskilled workers tend to help businesses bridge the tech skills gaps by working in IT technician (41%), cloud computing (36%) and data analysis roles (28%).
Equinix has a collection of career transition programs under its Career Pathways portfolio. These programs are designed to expand and diversify talent pools by drawing from careers with transferable skills, such as military veterans transitioning to civilian life, and retired Olympians and Paralympians, through a partnership with Athlete Career Transition (ACT). The career transition reskilling program constitutes 40% of field operations hiring globally, sourcing workers from adjacent industries, such as airline, oil and gas, and hospitality, and reskilling them to fill data centre roles. Additional programs include the soon-to-launch Invictus, which will focus on hiring SkillBridge veterans disabled due to military service, New To Career, attracting new graduates, and refugee-targeted talent schemes. Collectively, these initiatives are targeted to bring the company more than 750 hires in 2022.
Meanwhile, businesses are also seeking to recruit through higher education and apprenticeship programs. Australian IT leaders said their companies main ways of partnering with higher education institutions include running collaborative training programs with higher education institutions (36%), offering student internships (35%), and offering grants to students who join the company after they graduate (34%).
According to Brandi Galvin Morandi, Chief Legal and HR Officer at Equinix, the survey reveals unmatched skill sets are hampering talent acquisition across tech-focused teams globally.
"There is an overall lack of understanding about the specific skills needed for certain roles, and potential candidates need better guidance around training, preparation, and job opportunities," Morandi says.
"This challenge hands our industry the opportunity to recruit and develop talent in different ways, and this is something we've been working to get ahead of in the past few years," she says.
"We believe companies should foster a progressive talent development roadmap for tech roles that caters for both inexperienced and trained candidates. Another opportunity is mentorship programs helping potential candidates gain access to an established network for career guidance, while connecting companies with suitable candidates for a robust talent pool.
"We also encourage higher education and vocational training institutions to work with tech teams within companies to ensure their curriculum imparts the right skills to students and prepares them for their desired careers."
To further progress in this area, Equinix recently launched the Equinix Foundation, partnering with organisations to advance digital inclusion, from providing access to technology and connectivity, to developing the skills required for technology careers. The Foundation aims to support nonprofits working to prepare individuals of all ages and backgrounds to succeed in today's digital world.