How to Beat the IT Talent Gap

By: Brian DiPaolo, Director of Strategic Services

IT by the numbers

A May 2016 survey of over 3,000 IT leaders by IT outsourcer Harvey Nash and auditing firm KPMG found that 65% report a skills shortage, while 44% expect to need to expand their IT teams despite the shortage. Also, 89% of CIOs noted that talent retention is a challenge as well. Likewise, ISACA’s January 2016 Cybersecurity Snapshot, based on a global survey of its IT security members, revealed that most organizations expect to hire more cybersecurity professionals, yet also expect the process to be difficult.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment demand for information security analysts is expected to increase 18% by 2024. The demand for security professionals in computer systems design and related services is expected to grow 36%, while the average for computer occupations is 12% and all occupations is 7%. And, according to an analysis of BLS data by Peninsula Press, a Stanford Journalism Program project, 2015 saw upwards of 209,000 cybersecurity jobs left vacant.

Causes of the gap

The BLS pinpoints the federal government and the healthcare industry as the prime drivers of this surge due to the prevalence of cyberattacks and the use of electronic medical records. Also, small- and medium-sized businesses, who may not have in-house IT teams but are increasingly adopting cloud services, will be a strain on this talent pool as well.

A December 2016 study by Deloitte argues that the talent gap is due to an ever-changing demand for skills and an increasing use of contingent employees. While the “open talent economy” may benefit IT workers whose skill sets span platforms and software packages, talent acquisition is already proving quite difficult for the businesses in need of those skills. And, as those needs continue to change, hiring and retention become even more of a strain on resources.

Partnering to close the gap

MIT Technology Review, in a February 2016 study conducted in partnership with Hewlett Packard Enterprise Security Services and FireEye, suggests building a resilient cybersecurity team to overcome the skills shortage by creating clear career paths and offering training and development for existing employees. Partnering with a managed services provider (MSP) is also key.

Partnering with an MSP offers agility – an organization can assign its best staff to core internal projects, while the MSP handles day-to-day and maintenance IT tasks, and can supplement strategic projects. An MSP provides the right talent at the right time.

The MSP handles recruiting, provides benefits and training. MSPs can offer challenging and rewarding career paths from entry-level helpdesk to senior consultant/SME. And employee churn is no longer an issue: your environment is properly documented, so there is no loss of knowledge when an employee leaves.

The right MSP is cost effective when considering employee salaries and benefits spread over the term, as well as increased talent acquisition costs, versus a flat-rate MSP service that provides a better, more consistent and reliable experience that can scale over time and is always available.

Healthcare – a use case

The healthcare industry may be the hardest hit by the IT talent gap – many healthcare organizations tend to develop in-house talent, or at least hire from within the industry. This trend is due to a preference for workers who have a knowledge of the intricacies of the industry. And, as the BLS states, the growth of the use of electronic medical records, alongside a proliferation of data breaches among healthcare organizations, means the industry is facing an uphill battle when it comes to protecting critical data assets.

Accudata Systems recently partnered with a large healthcare provider in Houston who underwent a major acquisition. Accudata lead the effort by turning up 25 clinics, including 200 pieces of networking equipment and 400 desktops in about a month. Since then, Accudata’s MSP has kept the sites up and running smoothly. Because Accudata is an IT consulting firm in addition to an MSP, it was able to supply the right skills at the right time to fill in the gaps.

If your organization could use some help beating the IT talent gap, contact Brian DiPaolo, Strategic Services Practice Manager at to schedule a consultation.