A new survey among Hong Kong IT leaders reveals what they consider to be the solution to the city-state’s critical skills shortage within the technology sector. Independently commissioned by specialist recruiter Robert Half, the survey of 75 CIOs reveals one in four (25 per cent) believe the number one factor that would alleviate the IT skills shortage is increased in-house training of existing IT staff. This is closely followed by 24 per cent who think promoting IT as an attractive career path for Millennials and Generation Z professionals is the solution.
Increased collaboration with education providers and universities is identified by 16 per cent of CIOs and 15 per cent believe increased collaboration initiatives from the business community will ease Hong Kong’s IT skills shortage. Just over one in 10 (11 per cent) CIOs consider increased government initiatives to be the primary solution.
The survey reveals the extent of the skills shortage impacting IT employers, as more than nine in 10 (92 per cent) CIOs say it is challenging to source qualified IT professionals, while 88 per cent say it is also challenging to attract them once found.
Further emphasising the importance of staff development, the majority (95 per cent) of CIOs surveyed also state IT professionals are more willing to resign if their company is unable to provide them with their requested training compared to three years ago, reinforcing how professional development is not only essential in filling apparent skills gaps, but also in retaining top performers.
“Professional development has become increasingly important for IT professionals as new technologies emerge almost every day which require new skills to manage them,” says Adam Johnston, managing director of Robert Half Hong Kong. “Not only do training programs allow employees to keep their skills up to date and perform better, it can also help Hong Kong employers attract top candidates and retain their best workers.
“Ongoing professional development is very appealing to many employees who are looking to keep their skills relevant in a rapidly changing world. If ambitious and talented IT professionals feel their career aspirations are not being met, the abundance of available IT jobs simply means they are likely to look for advancement opportunities elsewhere. Having a well-developed professional development and training program helps build and maintain enthusiasm, but it also inspires loyalty.”
To combat the skills shortage, Robert Half argues professional development needs to part of a comprehensive approach which includes IT leaders, government initiatives, education providers and the wider business community working together. This would then increase the influx of IT candidates into the market, developing the skills of existing employees and properly ‘marketing’ the benefits and opportunities available with a career in IT.
Here are four ways professional development can benefit a company:
1. Increase productivity and the collective knowledge of teams
While professional development can take up a company’s resources, encouraging employees to train in relevant subjects and applications can have an immediate effect on productivity, raising overall staff expertise, which in turn can significantly boost innovation and potential profitability.
2. Boost attraction of in-demand candidates
Offering an extensive professional development and training program can help attract the most highly driven and career-focused candidates to a job opening, painting an enticing picture of how they can grow professionally or expand the career avenues available to them.
3. Increase staff retention
Professional development helps build and maintain employee enthusiasm and – most importantly – it also has a positive effect on staff loyalty, which helps to reduce turnover and encourage staff to remain with the company long-term.
4. Make succession planning easier
Leadership development programs are tools for grooming future leaders in an organisation. Targeted training can help business leaders ensure outstanding employees are prepared to move up or be promoted to managerial positions in the future.