More than 85% of Asia-Pacific businesses are reskilling IT workers in response to the growing tech skills gap

More than 85% of Asia-Pacific businesses are reskilling IT workers in response to the growing tech skills gap

A survey by Equinix, the global digital infrastructure company, revealed IT leaders in Asia-Pacific have serious concerns about staff retention and recruitment.

According to the Equinix 2022 Global Tech Trends Survey, 63% of IT decision-makers view a shortage of personnel with IT skills as one of the main threats to their business. Companies – including Equinix – are looking to widen the talent pool, bringing in more diverse candidates through alternative recruitment drives. The 2,900 survey respondents acknowledged the speed at which the tech industry is transforming has left companies struggling to find and retain people with the right skill sets to meet present and future challenges.

In response to skills shortages, many businesses are working hard to reskill human capital from other industries. 69% of Asia-Pacific IT leaders said they reskill workers from similar industries, while 44% are trying to bolster their workforce with recruits from unrelated sectors. With recent layoffs and furlough schemes driving workers to seek opportunities to level up their skills or careers, tech companies that offer training and development opportunities could be better positioned to attract talent.

The most common sources of reskilled workers are finance and insurance (39%), administration and business support (37%), manufacturing (30%) and those returning to work after a period of absence (30%). These reskilled workers tend to help businesses bridge the tech skills gaps by working as IT technicians (46%), cloud computing (40%) and data analysis roles (37%).

In the Asia-Pacific region, there is a relatively prominent tech skill gap for cloud computing specialists (29%), followed by professionals with AI/Machine Learning aptitude (26%) and IT technicians (26%). A higher percentage of IT decision-makers in Asia-Pacific also identify a skills gap in data protection specialists (24%), compared to other regions. They anticipate that the biggest tech skills gap will lie in AI/Machine Learning (28%) in 2025, followed by cloud computing (26%) and AR/VR (24%). Asia-Pacific IT leaders also consider candidates with the wrong skill sets applying for jobs (45%), the changing workforce expectations around ways of working (43%) and the pay and compensation packages for employees (41%) as the top three biggest skill challenges their businesses face.

“Finding the right skills is a real problem in the tech industry, especially on the software side. The reality is that with the softwarization of services, all industries are seeking the same skills,” said Keri Gilder, CEO of Colt Technology Services.  “One of the challenges here is a lack of awareness among young talent of the opportunities available within the tech sector.

Connectivity providers don’t appear in many use cases – even those at university level –despite all the work being done in areas such as subsea, satellite and fiber. We have to think collaboratively around talent and work as an industry to bring in more of the diverse skills base waiting for an opportunity.”

Equinix has a collection of career transition programs under its Career Pathways portfolio. These programs are designed to expand and diversify talent pools by drawing candidates from careers with transferable skills, such as military veterans transitioning to civilian life and retired Olympians and Paralympians, through a partnership with Athlete Career Transition (ACT).

The career transition reskilling program constitutes 40% of field operations hiring globally, sourcing workers from adjacent industries, such as airline, oil and gas and hospitality and reskilling them to fill data center roles. Additional programs include the soon-to-launch Invictus, which will focus on hiring SkillBridge veterans disabled due to military service, New To Career, attracting new graduates and refugee-targeted talent schemes. Collectively, these initiatives are targeted to bring the company more than 750 hires in 2022.

Meanwhile, businesses are also seeking to recruit through higher education and apprenticeship programs. IT leaders in Asia-Pacific claim their companies’ main ways of partnering with higher education institutions include running collaborative training programs with higher education institutions (48%), offering student internships (47%), taking part in college/university career fairs (42%) and outsourcing training programs to a higher education institution (41%).

An example of such collaboration is the CLAP-TECH Pathway – funded by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust – which sees multiple tech companies, including Equinix, collaborate with Hong Kong Baptist University and secondary schools in Hong Kong to equip students with the right skills for a career in tech. Equinix has also pledged US$160,000 towards sustainability-focused scholarships for programs administered by the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Singapore Management University (SMU), to expand learning beyond traditional academic disciplines.

“The survey reveals unmatched skill sets are hampering talent acquisition across tech-focused teams globally,” said Brandi Galvin Morandi, Chief Legal and HR Officer at Equinix. “There is an overall lack of understanding about the specific skills needed for certain roles and potential candidates need better guidance around training, preparation and job opportunities.

“This challenge hands our industry the opportunity to recruit and develop talent in different ways and this is something we’ve been working to get ahead of in the past few years. We believe companies should foster a progressive talent development roadmap for tech roles that caters for both inexperienced and trained candidates.

“Another opportunity is mentorship programs-helping potential candidates gain access to an established network for career guidance, while connecting companies with suitable candidates for a robust talent pool,” said Morandi. “We also encourage higher education and vocational training institutions to work with tech teams within companies to ensure their curriculum imparts the right skills to students and prepares them for their desired careers.”

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