If they haven’t already done so, Umbrella Company techies contracting as IT professionals should start expanding their skills sets to incorporate business capabilities such as leadership, understanding business objectives and project management if they wish to secure future opportunities, a new report from Experis suggests.

The study, Tomorrow’s Tech Teams, polled 200 senior IT managers and 1,000 IT professionals, seeking their thoughts on current and future strategy for UK IT departments.

Ninety per cent of the senior managers surveyed believe that, in the context of today’s fast-evolving technology economy, the ability to acquire new tech skills is equal in importance to having existing knowledge. The three skill areas seen as most valuable amongst senior IT leaders emerged as:

  • Understanding business objectives (according to 95 per cent of respondents)
  • Leadership (93 per cent)
  • Project management (92 per cent)

Sixty-two per cent of the IT leaders expect to see more people from non-tech backgrounds coming into IT departments during the next two years. With priorities changing, the need for candidates with wider skills sets is undoubtedly making the existing IT skills shortage yet more complicated.

Experis MD Geoff Smith said that the prevailing theme of the IT skills shortage, which he described as a “crisis,” has to date focused on the need for additional skills in specific tech areas so that businesses can embrace emerging technologies, innovate and continue to be competitive.

However, he added, Experis’s research suggests that the problem is increasing. He went on:

“IT leaders and HR must become more agile and identify candidates and existing team members that possess wider business skills and leadership qualities as well as those able to learn new tech skills. It’s also important for them to assess their way of thinking. Individuals that challenge and question existing systems and processes in order to make improvements, displaying a growth mindset, will drive innovation.”

The study also found that 97 per cent of IT leaders believe that the most successful future IT teams will be those who support continuous learning, while 94 per cent believe they will need a training strategy that is responsive to emerging trends in technology.

These views contrasted with the present experiences of the IT workers polled, 48 per cent of whom described their training programme as “reactive,” while 15 per cent reported, worryingly, that their organisations offered no training whatsoever.

The result of deficits in training and development opportunities can be seen in the study: 41 per cent of the respondents reported that shortages in the right skills caused reduced business growth, 53 per cent of IT leaders said that skills shortages would increase stress on IT teams, 46 per cent predicted that these shortages would reduce morale and 43 per cent predicted that skills deficits would cause reduced productivity.

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