Could AI help HR managers bridge the tech skills gap?

Relaxing requirements for tech roles could also help plug the skills gap

A new report by CompTIA, the US body for the IT industry, highlights the challenges companies will face due to digital transformation and the skills gaps in the tech industry.

The report found that 67% of HR professionals said they were “placing more emphasis on reskilling and upskilling efforts”, where the need to fill crucial roles is most pressing in larger firms with “79% pursuing initiatives to address skills gaps and a tightening labour market for tech talent.”

“Year-to-date U.S. employers posted nearly one million job ads seeking to hire a range of IT infrastructure, software, cybersecurity, data, and emerging tech positions,” said the report, which highlights the extent of the digital skills gap.

“Workplace digital divides” is a concern for 74% of HR professionals involved in the survey, where “40% report offering new or expanded broadband and technology stipends to work-from-home staff.”

In addition, a “majority of HR professionals expect pandemic induced WFH arrangements to remain in place to some degree on a permanent basis.”

CompTIA has highlighted several trends for the “learning landscape in the year ahead”, including “continuous learning” and “alternative learning and career pathways” and the role of AI as a “strategic partner of human-digital teams.” They also expect more businesses to pay “attention to DEI.”

The potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) was a big theme among HR respondents in the survey where “one in three” believe it will have a “significant impact in human resource management.”

However, HR staff are already “using or exploring AI-enabled tools” in “competency assessments and hiring process management (71%), employee self-service tools (71%) and career pathway modelling (68%).”

Three in four HR respondents showed “support for relaxing or eliminating the four-year degree requirement for job candidates,” as some believe the requirement can lead to “over-spec’ing” and creates “artificial barriers to expanding the labour pipeline”.

By removing this, HR teams can help diversify the tech talent pool by hiring candidates who may not have had the economic power to take certain degrees but who display the potential to learn and upskill on the job.

With HR respondents confirming they’ll be hiring extensively for tech roles (62%) as well as sales, marketing, and customer service roles (55%) over the next year, “83% indicate they will consider candidates for IT support and helpdesk positions without a four-year degree, with similar levels of consideration for related positions in data and databases (80%), software or web development (75%) and cybersecurity (73%).”

Nancy Hammervik, CEO, CompTIA Tech Career Academy, said: “The global pandemic accelerated efforts to rethink approaches to developing and supporting our workforces. The dual need to create more resiliency and future-proofing of skills, with the critical need to expand and diversify the pipeline of digital-ready workers, is a resounding mandate for change.”

Tim Herbert, Executive Vice President for Research and Market Intelligence at CompTIA, added: “Despite some misperceptions and misgivings, AI-enabled technologies and data-driven tools will increasingly play a role in learning and career development. The quest to move beyond mundane one-size-fits-all approaches with greater personalization and flexibility has the potential to further cultivate a continuous learning mindset for both workers and employers.”

Click here to download the full report.
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