Across the globe, organizations are struggling with a skills gap that isn’t closing anytime soon. There are millions more jobs available than there are unemployed workers, and recruiters can’t find the talent they need. I hear from customers daily that the skills gap is a major concern.
It’s impossible for the IT team of any organization to stay up to speed on the latest technology, while also doing their day jobs. Just reading the headlines about generative AI is practically a full-time job! Instead of trying to close the gap, we can be more successful if we adopt a strategy of investing, growing, and partnering to infuse expertise into the workforce.
We have a shared responsibility as a global community to invest in technical talent early. We need more laptops in the hands of every child, more STEM in our schools, and more colleges offering technical degrees. Online learning programs, like Cisco’s Networking Academy, are helping to make it easier than ever. The platform has trained more than 17.5 million learners across 190 countries, opening the door to educational opportunities and meaningful technical careers. Our future generation of workers is used to remote learning, and they need this kind of head start. Intern programs are another way companies can help groom young talent. At Cisco, we hosted 1700 college interns in summer 2023, with the goal of extending job offers to as many as possible after graduation. We’re witnessing what happens when a wave of workers like the Baby Boomers exits the workforce, and the investment in future workers has not been sufficient for the task at hand.
All people teams know that attrition detracts from the bottom line when workers leave and take their skills elsewhere. Millennials and Gen Z workers make up most of the workforce, and they are looking for a culture fit, purpose, good compensation, and opportunity for professional growth on a regular basis. Leaders need to realize that the skilled labor they need has bargaining power. Focusing on culture is as important as focusing on the bottom line. Embracing a mindset of continuous learning, and offering training and certifications, is smart business. Growing talent and providing a path for upward mobility within the company will help retain workers you’ve invested in from walking out the door.
Most businesses work with partners; after all, restaurants don’t grow their own food and pave their own parking lots. It’s a smart business leader who understands that they should focus on what they do best, while bringing in outside expertise where needed. Cisco Lifecycle Services takes the risk out of major IT initiatives, bringing experts, tools, automation, and AI/ML insights to deliver the most critical business outcomes for Cisco customers. CiscoU is a digital learning experience that provides access to advanced,on-demand training and certifications for tech professionals. Cisco CX and its global ecosystem of partners help design and deploy business transformation solutions across the globe and transfer knowledge to customers looking to build their in-house skills. Partnering is the logical way for organizations to get what they need when they need it.
We’ll always be chasing after the next innovation, trying to round the learning curve. The skills gap is here to stay. It’s time for leaders to think differently about how they acquire and retain the technical expertise to get the job done.