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Skills Training - IT Staff are End-Users Too

07/01/2013 by: The SunView Team

In this, the third in a series of end-user training blog posts, I decided to look at the IT Organization's skill gap that we hear so much about. Although a very different focus from your end-user training, from the SunView Software vendor point of view, your staff is often the end-user. So, it is vital for our customers to get proper training, not just on the ChangeGear platform, but all of the software and hardware they are using on a regular basis.

I will start with the recent CIO article, How to Close the IT Talent Gap.

Two hundred senior IT personnel were asked how important they thought development of their own people was. These IT leaders almost universally (96 %) rated this as either important or very important, but when asked how adept their leadership was at tackling this integral part of employee management more than 30% rated themselves as not proficient.

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The next step is to set some benchmarks - determine where your team stands right now in their skills and knowledge. As Rachel Russell, from TEKsystems says in the CIO article,

"It's crucial to do this type of analysis for workforce planning and career development because it helps employees understand what skills the business is going to need to achieve its goals."

According to Eric Garrison at Benchmark Learning, here are 4 questions to ask when building an IT Organization skills assessment

1. How has the role of IT changed "in the Business"?

2. What skills do you need today and into the future in order for your IT employees to be successful "in the Business"?

3. What are the biggest skill gaps you have on your teams?

4. What are you doing to help close those gaps in order to set your people up for success?

Looking at the issue from the IT staff viewpoint, a Computerworld survey in 2012, found that 26% are concerned about keeping their skills up to date and being valuable to their employers. That is important. Over one quarter of your IT staff think skills training is vital to their continued success.

"We talked about it with our entire staff and we assured them that this is not some sort of gotcha management program. We're really trying to find areas where we can help you improve. €¦ they began to realize that it was true we weren't using it as a way to weed out poor performers or people with the wrong skill sets," says Joe Topinka CIO of Red Wing Shoes.

According to the John Carney's article on, there is no shortage of workers trained in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). According to a study by the Economic Policy Institute:

• "For every two students that U.S. colleges graduate with STEM degrees, only one is hired into a STEM job."

• "In computer and information science and in engineering, U.S. colleges graduate 50% more students than are hired into those fields each year; of the computer science graduates not entering the IT workforce, 32% say it is because IT jobs are unavailable, and 53% say they found better job opportunities outside of IT occupations."

• "Over the past decade IT employment has gradually increased, but it only recovered to its 2000-2001 peak level by the end of the decade."

When I was on the advisory board of George Brown College, our efforts were designed to build the skills of the students so that they would better match the employers' requirements. But, the graduates were not 100% up to speed. They were ready to be brought up to speed by the employer.

A big shout-out to my Canadian friends, family and readers - Happy Canada Day.

Speaking of Canada, if you are having problems finding qualified IT staff, I do not suggest doing what RBC did recently. According to the article from the CBC, RBC replaced Canadian IT staff with temp foreign workers. The office of the minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, the federal office that approved plans to bring in foreign workers, issued this statement.

"We have recently learned of allegations that RBC could be replacing Canadian workers by contracting with iGate, which is filling some of the roles with temporary foreign workers. If true, this situation is unacceptable. The purpose of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program is to fill acute labour needs when Canadians are not available for the work required. It was never intended as a means to bring in temporary foreign workers in order to replace already-employed Canadian workers. I have instructed my department to work with Citizenship and Immigration Canada to determine the next steps."

Immigration Minister, Jason Kenney said that "the rules are very clear. You cannot displace Canadians to hire people from abroad,"

"RBC has been in the news this week in a way no company ever wants to be," RBC Chief Executive Gord Nixon said.

So, for your IT staff (end-user) training, I suggest that you begin by benchmarking the gaps in your staff's current knowledge and skills. Then build a learning plan around the gaps and please do not try the "end-around" like RBC. Good luck and good training.

Flickr Image by MyLifeStory