Why IT Pros Want to Quit Their Jobs — and How to Change Their Minds
In the year ahead, more than half (53%) of IT professionals are considering leaving their current employers as job satisfaction rates declined slightly from 2021 to 2022. That's troubling news for many in IT leadership whose greatest challenge is retention.
These findings come from Skillsoft's annual IT Skills and Salary Report, which was published today. Now in its 17th year, this report shares insights into the highest paying certifications, in-demand skills, top investment areas, key workplace challenges and far more across the IT industry. It's the result of a survey distributed over the summer of 2022 that garnered participation from nearly 8,000 IT professionals globally.
Gain access to the full report here.
One of the main takeaways from the report is the ongoing strain IT departments are experiencing as they try to recruit and retain employees.
The Great Resignation, a turbulent labor market, and insatiable demand for digital transformation have all contributed to what many in leadership deem their toughest challenge Retention.
Here are the top 5 challenges IT decision-makers face this year:
Developing Stronger Teams
Resource and Budget Constraints
Last year, talent recruitment and retention ranked highly but didn't top the charts as they did in 2022.
More companies continue to realize the outsized need they have for technical skills in order to scale their operation, deliver new experiences to employees and/or customers, and transform the way they do business. As this realization sets in, it adds fuel to an already hot labor market.
This situation has forced many in leadership to reassess what's possible and begin charting a new course. Thanks to the thousands of IT professionals who gave their time to this survey, there is evidence of many promising opportunities to aid organizations that struggle with this challenge and others like it.
But, to curb the impacts of attrition, IT leaders must glean, and act upon, the valuable insights from this research. Let's dive in.
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IT Pros Want Opportunities to Grow — Or Else …
The majority of IT professionals (86%) took at least some training in the past year, and most of the time it's in support of their organization's initiatives. The highest percentage of IT professionals (31%) say their main driver for training is to prepare their organizations for a product launch, migration or update.
But they have many motivators for training. These rise to the top:
- Increasing their salaries
- Personal interest in learning new skills
- Earning or maintaining a certification
What often stands in their way is management (even more than their heavy workload). In fact, 45% say management doesn't see the value of training.
Knowing this plays a big part in solving retention issues. Among the leading reasons IT professionals leave their current position or employer is due to a lack of professional development opportunities.
They want training. They want growth opportunities. They want chances to improve themselves and those around them.
Unfortunately, many feel denied these opportunities, which often results in their departure from the organization — a costly situation as skills benefit both the individual and their employers in more ways than one.
“Learning is the catalyst for mutually beneficial growth for employees and employers, especially as organizations struggle to retain technical talent and keep pace with innovation,” said Zach Sims, Skillsoft's General Manager of Tech & Dev in a news release announcing the report. “Companies that create cultures of learning and talent development will be most successful in recruiting and retaining ambitious individuals with the right skills and certifications to make an impact.”
With this in mind, 85% of IT decision-makers say they authorized training in the last year and nearly all (97%) recognize the value certified professionals bring to the organization.
So, where's the disconnect?
It's likely a classic case of lacking communication.
The Impacts of Broken Communication Call for More 'Power' Skills
Most IT leaders authorize training and see the benefits of IT certifications. Almost half say certified staff boost productivity, they help meet client requirements (44%), and close organizational gaps (41%).
And yet, a lack of training opportunities is among the leading reasons why IT professionals quit their jobs.
This begs the question. Are some leaving their jobs because they believe training isn't available to them — when in reality, it is?
This disconnect between what's available and what's known is causing undue trouble for organizations feeling the effects of turnover and a tough recruiting environment.
Effective team communication is the most important skill for IT leaders to have, according to most (66%) survey respondents. Following are interpersonal communication, emotional intelligence, and business skills.
These soft, or Power, skills have become increasingly important for IT leaders to have as technology plays a vital role in modernizing business, adapting to change, and scaling operations. Skills like communication and leadership will help those in IT better align with their counterparts across the organization to drive the positive changes they hope for.
The report found that 22% of IT professionals reported their employers don’t currently offer leadership training programs and 17% simply don't know if one exists. But of those organizations that do offer this type of training, one in four jumped at the opportunity.
As IT leaders encourage their teams to develop new skills in support of technology investments, it's important to also consider how Power skills can help aid in efforts improve collaboration, communicate use cases or the impact of projects, and better illustrate their strategic visions for the future.
Skills Drive Salary Increases in High-Demand Areas
Developing new skills and earning certifications often increases an employee's value to organizations. For example, 46% of IT decision-makers estimate certified staff add $20,000 or more in value over non-certified staff.
This heightened value placed on skills was seen in some high-demand areas in this year's survey data, with varying results regionally.
These were among areas that showed salary increases:
- IT architecture
- Data science
- Service desk / IT support
In the year ahead, these are the top investment areas reported by decision-makers:
- AI and Machine Learning
- Infrastructure and Systems
- Data science
And, these are the toughest areas to hire for:
- Analytics, Big Data, Data Science
- Cybersecurity, Information Security
- Application Development
Many see investments in these areas as unlocking opportunities for their organizations, whether it's better utilization of data or improved efficiency, but leaders have recognized that their teams don't always have the skills to work with these technologies.
Nearly half of IT decision-makers say their team's skills in AI and machine learning, as an example, are low (25%) or somewhat low (24%). The highest percentage (37%) say their team's skills in cloud computing are somewhere in the middle, leaving room for growth.
One of the key reasons why IT decision-makers struggle with skills gaps is because they can't find talent with the skills they need (or can't pay what candidates demand). Due to this shortage, skills come at a premium — especially today as competition grows more intense.
Given these circumstances, most in leadership say they plan to invest in training their existing teams to close gaps, which is consistent with what we saw last year. And thankfully, that has paid off. More on that in the next section.
Skills Gaps Reportedly Decline, but There's More to the Story
Looking at last year's data, many IT decision-makers forecast their skills gaps correctly. In 2021, 76% of leaders reported skills gaps on their teams. But, only 64% anticipated these gaps in 2022.
They were close in their predictions.
Fewer IT decision-makers reported skills gaps this year compared to last, falling 10 percentage points to 66% for the global average. Next year, we'll see if they fall even more. Only 57% predict they will have skills gaps in the coming year.
This is a welcome trend after years on the rise. Segmenting the data among different groups shows skills gaps fluctuating somewhat but consistently remaining lower than last year:
Job / Function Area
Skills Gaps Present
IT Architecture and Design
Data, Analytics and Business Intelligence
This is a welcome sign that the efforts from last year are paying off for IT decision-makers. In 2021, most (56%) reported that they planned to upskill their teams to close gaps. From this vantage point, the training is working.
However, some remain unsure of their gaps. The data shows one in 10 IT leaders don't know if they have skills gaps present on their teams, remaining consistent with last year.
By and large, skills gaps pose a risk to organizations and IT's ability to carry out its duties. More than 98% of IT leaders agree gaps pose a risk of some kind (we asked high, medium or low), with 80% indicating high or medium risk. Skills gaps also cause stress, slow project durations, and make it harder to meet business goals.
As an IT leader, not knowing the capabilities of your team could exacerbate the challenges you face, not least of which are retention and heavy workloads. Take inventory by assessing their skills and competencies to understand how to nurture the team you have into the one you need for the future.
4 Steps to Help Retain More Employees
Talent retention isn't unique to any one industry or region. This challenge continues to impact organizations of all kinds globally. However, some organizations are finding ways to overcome this issue. (Read about real-world solutions in this blog.)
Many IT leaders recognize that in order to overcome challenges like these, they must nurture their current staff with time or resource investments in professional development that unlock opportunities to advance and grow.
Take these steps to develop stronger teams and help retain more employees:
Measure Your Team's Capabilities
Some IT leaders are in the dark about their skills gaps. This leaves room for gaps to threaten operations or elevate risk within the organization. Start by assessing your team's capabilities to identify both gaps and areas to grow.
Skillsoft offers objective assessments to help leaders gauge their team's competencies in areas like cloud, cybersecurity, networking, and far more. Learn about Skills Benchmark Assessments here.
Cross-Collaborate to Launch Better Training Programs
IT leaders must collaborate with their counterparts in learning and development to hone training curricula that targets key skill areas. The benefits of this partnership can manifest in many ways, including better adoption of training programs.
As you identify skills gaps, invest in new technologies, or support the strategic goals of the organization, work with your partners and stakeholders to design training programs. The programs should be highly relevant, applicable, and accessible to your team.
Personalize Training and Career Development
While many IT professionals agree they want opportunities for hands-on practice, learning preferences vary from person to person. What's more, their ambitions are unique. Some want to build new skills, others want to earn a certification or take on different responsibilities at work.
Bring up career development in your meetings with staff, talk to them about their goals and how you can support them. Then, provide training that's tailored to them.
Track Progress Over Time
As you develop these programs internally, how will know whether or not they work? Define what success looks like with your partners and stakeholders. Track your team's progress to understand how training impacts their careers but also projects, initiatives, and resources.
Continue to iterate over time to adapt training to the needs of your team and that of the greater organization. And remember, don't forget your partners who can lead the design of programs, help measure performance, and advocate for solutions.
To find more insights into IT leaders' plans to remedy their skills gaps and what the future may look like for those in this field, access the 2022 IT Skills and Salary Report today.