The skills shortage is an issue that affects all businesses along the chain, from IT vendors to resellers to the end customers. It creates a serious challenge for businesses, especially as they increasingly rely on technology to run operations and deliver a good customer experience.
Help wanted: Edge computing deployments
The challenge is about to get even tougher as IoT (Internet of Things) and edge computing deployments get under way. IoT applications will require real-time processing and analysis, much of which will take place at edge computing sites. Those sites will multiply rapidly as implementations take place, which will lead to unstaffed sites that will have to be managed remotely and secured from intrusion.
Most companies do not have the staff to manage those sites, for several reasons:
- Companies have reduced IT staff numbers in recent years as they try to control IT budgets by investing in virtualisation and cloud technologies.
- As technology evolves, it's hard to find candidates with the experience to handle the new systems, services and applications.
- Students on the technology track in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields tend to be more focused on computer programming than on IT.
- Thanks to the scarcity of talent, recruitment costs and compensation packages tend to get hefty.
Faced with these challenges, businesses turn to third parties for help. It's an obvious - and welcome - move for managed service providers (MSPs). The problem is that MSPs and other channel partners face the same issue with finding skilled talent.
A challenge for MSPs
In its IT Industry Outlook 2018, CompTIA puts the effect of the shortage in perspective: "Nearly four in 10 US IT firms report having job openings and are actively recruiting candidates for technical positions." More than half of those employers attribute the job openings to expansion and "the need for new skills in areas such as software development, IoT, or data".
The challenge has become even greater in 2018 because of the difficulty of finding workers with expertise in emerging technology fields. And, of course, IT technology firms have to compete with each other for the limited talent pool, which inflates salaries and puts companies located in rural or remote areas at a disadvantage.
The skills shortage creates a conundrum for MSPs: just as their customers need them most, they are inhibited by the same problem that is causing customers to turn to them. So do you take the work or pass because you don't have enough staff?
The three Rs for effective talent acquisition and retention
As an MSP, you needn't turn your back on IoT and edge computing opportunities so long as you follow the three Rs of staffing: retrain, recruit and retain.
Retrain - One of the best ways to increase employee retention and improve performance is to train employees on new technologies. Take advantage of certification programmes from third-party providers and vendors to get them up to speed. Also reach out to local colleges that offer tech courses to help sharpen skills and teach new material.
Recruit - Broaden your recruitment efforts beyond the narrow skills for a particular job and, instead, look for candidates that demonstrate an ability and willingness to learn new skills. Even if candidates have only half the skills you are seeking, consider hiring those with some of the core competencies you need and then provide training and development to close the skills gap.
Retain - Along with training to sharpen skills, provide career advancement opportunities and rewards to good employees. In addition, it is important to have open communications and verbally recognise excellent job performance. These efforts go a long way in retaining key employees.
Skills shortages are bound to persist, but you can get a leg up on competitors by developing a strategy around the three Rs. It may prove to be one of your best moves in seizing IoT and edge computing opportunities. You can access additional information on best practices in talent management by downloading our free guide, entitled Managed Services Matters: A Roadmap for Enduring Business Success.
Register for Edge Certification Programme
Bolster your own knowledge on edge computing through APC by Schneider Electric's Edge Certification Programme. Become certified in edge computing and expand your revenue opportunities by visiting our partner portal, register if you are not already a partner, then enroll in the Edge Computing Certification.
Also, learn how you can help your customers address their edge deployment needs and achieve certainty in a connected world by visiting our edge computing resource site.