I recently sat down with Arvind Hickman of HR Magazine UK to discuss the skills gap in the technology sector. We talked about the challenges of filling the critical technology slots that business demands, particularly in developed countries, where the biggest gaps exist.

Cisco has been proactive in surveying the global market, forecasting each country’s future requirements for technology talent and engaging to close the skills gap. We invest in the areas where supply would otherwise fall short of demand, and we work with colleges, the military, and with public – private partnerships to build the needed training and certification programs. We also recruit people early on, either before college or while in college, to consider technology careers in areas such as security, networking, data analytics and cloud.

Even using international sourcing and early recruiting methods, the world faces a deficit of millions of skilled workers in the technology arena. We currently are facing a more than 1M person gap in Cybersecurity. More than 2M new jobs will be created in this area in the next decade. This leaves an even greater gap in technology as the Internet of Things takes hold.  Based on Cisco’s global reach, perspective and subject matter expertise, I reviewed these steps that education and private organizations can take to help close the skills gaps:

  • Embed growth technology subjects like mobility, networking, programming data analytics and security into all computer science degrees and also into business degrees. They must be a key component of the basic educational framework. Once students learn one technology, it’s easier to learn others.
  • Certifications will continue to be used at even greater levels for hiring in the future so students need to certify on technology to showcase their skills and stand out to be chosen for these great jobs. Certifications embedded into degree programs are a powerful combination. Many students leave college with a degree that doesn’t equip them with the real-world skills needed for a career in the technology industry. A certification process would ensure that what students are learning maps to what the industry needs.
  • Educational institutions need to proactively communicate opportunities to students. People who are good at music, for instance, tend to also be good at computer science and networking—but they don’t necessarily know that. There is a huge need for data scientists and engineers, and if that need was clearly communicated, it is likely that more students would turn their attention to those roles.  Mapping skills and relationships across skills to specific careers gives students clear choices in how to build their own capacities and make themselves relevant to the workforce. Create those maps and guide students to the right outcomes.
  • Blend technology with business skills and training. Every company in the future is a tech company and every tech company will need to shift to business outcomes to stay relevant since much of the IT budget now comes from the business side of companies.  The marriage of technology to outcomes will be key for all future jobs in the Internet of Everything or Digital Economy. This means that business people are going to need technology capabilities, and technologists are going to need to understand business better. This enables them to ask the right questions and find the right solution to produce the right outcome and drive their organizations forward. Communications and collaboration skills will also be top of mind because working across silos is the new normal in business.

Without a properly educated workforce in place, organizations will have difficulty innovating and prospering. It is incumbent upon the education sector and the private sector to make technology a focus of learning to empower success for generations to come.


Jeanne Beliveau-Dunn

Vice President and General Manager

Cisco Services