By Ryan Day
There’s only one way to learn the true perspectives, challenges and achievements of IT professionals—ask them! And for the 11th straight year, that’s exactly what we did.
The 2018 Global Knowledge IT Skills and Salary Report has been released and you can download your copy now. We surveyed over 16,000 IT professionals around the world and asked them to provide insights into training, salaries, job satisfaction, certifications and much more. As a result, our annual report is one of the most comprehensive in the industry, while providing the clearest picture of worldwide IT departments.
To whet your appetite, here are five noteworthy findings from the report.
1. A rise in IT training has (somewhat) slowed skills gaps
The bad news: skills gaps are up.
The good news: they’re not up as much as last year. Not even close.
Seventy percent of IT decision-makers say their teams face a shortage of necessary skills. While that’s a huge number—and more than a little troubling—IT professionals are taking action. The percentage of respondents who took some form of training in the past year rose to 88%—the highest that number has ever been in our 11 years of reporting. We interpret this as a direct response to disruptive skills gaps.
In 2017, skills gaps rose 37% from the previous year. This year, they’re up two percent. Any rise is a bad thing, but a greater effort to train has likely slowed the increase.
Many IT professionals are now training to solve specific work problems as opposed to general skill-building. As skill shortages impact deployments, employee stress and organizational goals, we anticipate an even greater focus on professional development in the ensuing years.
We cannot predict the future and therefore skills gaps are almost inevitable. [The] challenge is therefore to minimize the gaps.
- Survey respondent
2. IT professionals who don’t train are more likely to change jobs
Training doesn’t just affect skills gaps. Thirty percent of respondents who trained in the past year are more satisfied in their roles than those who didn’t train. That’s just another reason why managers should seek out professional development opportunities for their teams.
Investing in employees is often more important than compensation. Pay isn’t always the top motivator we make it out to be. The proper training can lead to greater professional accomplishments, which can intrinsically lead to better pay. The result: everyone is happy.
IT professionals who didn’t train in 2017 are 70% more likely to be dissatisfied in their job. And 69% of those who are dissatisfied in their job are very likely to look for employment elsewhere.
Global Satisfaction vs. Likelihood to Pursue a New Position
|Not Likely to Pursue a New Position||Somewhat Likely to Pursue a New Position||Very Likely to Pursue a New Position|
Our report also concludes that entry-level professionals aren't happy with just being employed. According to our data, employees with five years of tenure or less are more likely to change jobs than those in more senior positions.
Hiring is a major challenge in IT. If you’re a decision-maker hoping to keep your staff intact, seeking out training opportunities for them is essential.
I enjoy the department and the people I work with. My supervisor appreciates what I do, challenges me with more difficult audits to perform, and treats me with respect.
- Survey respondent
3. Certification benefits outweigh costs
We know that certified IT professionals are paid well, especially those who achieve credentials in governance, cybersecurity and business architecture.
We also know that certification often requires a lot of preparation and a financial investment.
But our data shows the benefits exceed the investments.
IT decision-makers are nearly unanimous in their assertion that certified team members bring added value above and beyond the cost of certification. With skills gaps slowing down achievement across the industry, certified individuals complete projects faster, troubleshoot issues quicker and help provide a tangible edge over the competition.
In terms of dollar amount, decision-makers weren’t bashful with their estimates. Over 50% say that certified personnel provide an annual economic benefit that exceeds $10,000, with 27% saying it’s $20,000 or more. That’s an enormous payoff when you actually factor in the cost of training and the exam itself.
Certifications take time and dedication, but it’s clear that IT decision-makers worldwide are witnessing the value and getting behind them more than ever.
I've been able to guide other colleagues away from potentially disastrous decisions on their projects.
- Survey respondent on the value of being certified
4. Cybersecurity jobs pay incredibly well, but talent is still difficult to come by
Six of the 20 top-paying certifications in the IT Skills and Salary Report are cybersecurity-focused, including the top two overall spots—(ISC)2’s CISSP and ISACA’s CRISC. This marks the fifth straight year where cybersecurity certifications have held down the top spot for salary. No breaking news here.
The more fascinating trend relates to the hiring of cybersecurity professionals. While salaries continue to outpace the rest of the industry, IT managers are struggling to find qualified talent—and it’s getting worse by the year. According to our report, 38% of decision-makers are having trouble hiring cybersecurity professionals, up seven percent from 2017.
This number is in direct conflict with many forward-looking plans, as 50% of IT professionals expect their company to invest in cybersecurity in the next year. But with a shortage of talent, cybersecurity skills gaps will continue to rise.
Global Knowledge’s Global Senior Portfolio Director Dave Buster says we’ve recently reached a tipping point because everyone in IT needs some familiarity with cybersecurity. At the same time, the need for cybersecurity professionals with broad skills are becoming less and less necessary. There’s too much to know—the need for specialists is ramping up. And each specialist needs further education and training to achieve the appropriate level of expertise.
So it’s ultimately a good thing that employees expect their organizations to invest in cybersecurity in the future. These types of jobs are often too difficult to outsource. Training current staff is the best option. If your plan is to hire your way out of cybersecurity skills gaps, it may not be as easy as you think to find the right people. Train your way out of these skills gaps instead.
Being new to the organization, I feel that earning my CISSP has helped to earn trust and respect from my co-workers as a knowledgeable person.
- Survey respondent
5. Training is happening … with or without decision-maker approval
There are two statistics in our report that just don’t add up.
- 88% of IT professionals took some form of training.
- 46% of IT decision-makers authorized training for team members.
This discrepancy indicates that professionals recognize the importance of training, and are seeking it out regardless of manager approval.
This is both good and bad. The rising training numbers is a positive signal for the industry, as IT professionals are self-motivated and seeking to broaden their knowledge and skillsets. And if they have to get it without manager approval, so be it.
It may also suggest a lack of support from management or executives. Sometimes, the budget just doesn’t allow for formal training. (That’s actually the second biggest cause of skills gaps, according to IT decision-makers.) But if managers aren’t acknowledging training needs or celebrating the accomplishments of their staff who train or get certified, that suggests a disconnect.
More decision-makers expect to authorize training in 2018, so that would be a step in the right direction. Training isn’t an expense—it’s an investment. And our numbers prove that IT staff invested heavily in themselves in the past year.
My company has outsourced their IT for the last decade. I am building a department from scratch and my biggest issue is helping management understand the costs and associated benefits of in-house IT.
- Survey respondent
Get access to the 2018 IT Skills and Salary Report.