IT leaders predict future tech teams from non-tech backgrounds

The IT skills shortage has made leadership and project management experience more valuable, survey reveals

Sixty-two per cent of IT leaders expect to see more people from non-tech backgrounds join IT departments over the next two years due to the skills shortage, with leadership skills, understanding of business objectives and project management most valued.

The stats come from a study by Experis Tomorrow's Tech Teams which surveyed 1,000 IT workers and 200 senior IT managers to get a picture of what the tech workforce of the future might look like.

Geoff Smith, managing director of Experis, said: "The prevailing narrative of the IT skills crisis is that we need more skills in specific tech areas in order for businesses to embrace emerging technologies, innovate and remain competitive. However, our research suggests that the problem is growing. IT leaders and HR must become more agile and identify candidate 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."

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The ability to learn new technology skills was also rated highly by IT leaders, with 90 per cent believing that it is as important as existing knowledge in light of the speed at which the tech economy is evolving. Furthermore, 97 per cent of respondents said the most successful IT teams would be those that support continuous learning and are responsible to emerging trends (94 per cent).

A lack of support for learning and development would result in reduced business growth (41 per cent), reduced competitive advantage (43 per cent) and impact on employees, the survey notes.

"Building a culture of learning where employees are encouraged to think creatively about projects and try new things, while being given the responsibility to change processes for the better will improve efficiencies and team morale," Smith continued. "Offering teams the flexibility to work across different areas of the business and learn from different people will help drive this culture change, along with mentoring and coaching in tech and non-tech skills.

"For this to happen, IT managers, HR and employees need to communicate more frequently about what areas of development they think are necessary and where specialists' skills are being underutilised. Only then can businesses harness their existing talent potential and ensure they get the best and brightest to join in order to achieve business innovation and growth."

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