SolarWinds Survey Explores the Tech Skills Gap and the Future of the IT Professional
Highlights need to increase upskilling and tech pro confidence
AUSTIN, Texas — SolarWinds announced the findings from its IT Pro Day 2019 survey: “Building Confidence for Tech Pros of Tomorrow.” The survey results explore what tech pros need to build confidence in managing both today’s hybrid, distributed tech environments and the complex environments of tomorrow. The survey supports IT Professionals Day, which is observed on the third Tuesday of every September, and emphasizes appreciation for IT professionals and the critical role they play in end users’ lives and in operating successful, modern businesses. This year’s findings reveal how technology professionals can prepare for the future.
“Tech pros may know where they want to go, but the road to career confidence can be challenging,” said Joe Kim, executive vice president, engineering, and global chief technology officer, SolarWinds. “Mapping out the necessary skills and understanding how best to gain those competencies can be difficult, as proven by our annual IT Trends Report from earlier this year. For IT Pro Day 2019, we’ve taken it a step further by exploring how tech pros can skill up and become more confident, and how we can help them on their path for career confidence. We’re excited to celebrate the fifth annual IT Pro Day by shedding light on their needs and dedication to their field.”
Tech pros are feeling the impact of the skills gap. Sixty percent of survey respondents have not actively pursued a new skill or completed a certification in the last six months; nearly 50% of tech pros who did start a certification process did not complete it due to lack of time to commit.
The IT Pro Day 2019 survey reveals how business leaders and tech pros can work together to address the need to upskill. Survey results found increased support and budget from IT and business leaders are the top two requirements for tech pros to become confident in managing current and future tech environments. At the same time, developing skills in interpersonal communications is critical for continued career growth.
“Now more than ever, technology professionals work alongside business leaders to meet organizational goals,” said Kim. “At the same time, they must keep up with the tremendous amount of work and responsibility that comes with managing today’s complex tech environments. For the past 20 years, SolarWinds has dedicated itself to helping tech pros solve problems the way they want them to be solved. To celebrate the fifth annual IT Pro Day, we want to address this skills gap and empower tech pros to take their careers into the future.
“At SolarWinds, we focus on enabling the IT pro with training resources and a user community where they can connect with other tech pros like them,” he continued. “Whether through our customer Success Center; our MSP Institute and SolarWinds Academy; our THWACK® community of over 150,000 registered members; our annual, virtual, online learning event, THWACKcamp™; our SolarWinds Empower MSP; our biannual partner event; or in educational programming like SolarWinds Lab™ and TechPod™, we want to help make IT pros’ jobs easier, so they can drive even more success for the businesses they support.”
The survey polled global technology professionals to gain insight into the skills gap and how it’s being addressed from their perspective and by the organizations they support.
Despite the lack of tech pro confidence in managing current and future environments revealed in the survey, skill development is still on the back burner. Nearly 60% of survey respondents have not actively pursued a new skill or completed a certification in the last six months. Some (63%) started a certification process (such as Microsoft®, Cisco®, AWS®, VMware®) but did not complete the course. Nearly half (47%) of them cited lack of time to commit to completing the course as the reason they stopped before completion.
Organizations are working to resolve the data center labor shortage in ways that resonate with tech pros. In-company trainings ranked as a top-three tactic for addressing the labor shortage, with 35% of respondents selecting this option. Similarly, the majority of survey respondents (54%) cited full-day in-person workshops as providing the most value for the time spent when it comes to IT skills training materials. Organizations using automation to address this gap (31%) point to business investment in new ways to help their staff develop skills.
Developing soft skills is becoming increasingly important in driving career growth. Nearly half of survey respondents (46%) cited interpersonal communications skills as most critical for their continued career growth. Other top skills included: project management and public speaking/presentations.
While most tech pros feel confident communicating with business leaders, they’re not always equipped with the support and tools necessary to do their jobs effectively. The top two requirements for tech pros to become confident managing current and future environments are: increased budget/additional resources (64%) and more support from IT or business leadership (48%).
Most tech pros feel comfortable communicating with business leadership when it comes to requesting technology purchases and investing time/budget into team trainings. Approximately 44% are very comfortable and nearly 50% are somewhat comfortable.
Skills in application performance management (APM) are becoming increasingly necessary for tech pros across disciplines to possess. Tech pros have an appetite to develop APM skills further. Respondents cited application support, troubleshooting, and monitoring as responsibilities they are tasked with that fall outside of their core job description. Specifically, 53% cited user experience monitoring of applications as an additional required skill to develop to confidently manage their environment, which points to the continued prioritization of an exceptional end-user experience.
Fielded in August 2019, the survey was conducted by SolarWinds and yielded responses from 177 technology professionals from across the globe, including those from public and private sectors.
For more information, visit ITProDay.org.