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Research Shows Technology Skills Gap Amid Talent Shortage

Nearly two-thirds of technology leaders surveyed (65%) said they have a skills gap within their department, and 62% feel the skills gap has a greater impact today compared to a year ago.


Rapid change, evolving business priorities and the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) have created a significant challenge for today’s tech leaders: critical skills gaps on their teams. This is according to a new report, Building Future-Forward Tech Teams, from talent solutions and business consulting firm Robert Half.

Nearly two-thirds of technology leaders surveyed (65%) said they have a skills gap within their department, and 62% feel the skills gap has a greater impact today compared to a year ago. 

Technology leaders indicate emerging skills gaps on their team.

Skills Gaps Threaten Business Priorities

According to the research, the top priorities for technology leaders this year include:

  • Security of IT systems and information
  • AI, machine learning and automation initiatives
  • Cloud projects
  • Technology modernization
  • Software engineering and development

A finite pool of available talent and significant technology skills gaps could place these projects in peril and force corner-cutting decisions that may negatively impact the business. Nearly all tech leaders (95%) report challenges finding skilled talent, and more than half (51%) predict a significant hiring challenge will be a lack of applicants with the skill sets needed to support essential initiatives.

“It has never been more critical to have a talent strategy in place that aligns with your long-term vision and goals,” said Ryan Sutton, executive director for technology talent solutions at Robert Half. “Without a defined hiring and retention plan to help fill technology skills gaps, it will be challenging to achieve objectives and complete mission-critical projects.”

AI Brings Skills Gaps into Focus

The need to solve skills gaps has accelerated with the emergence of new AI capabilities. As shown in the report, 90% of tech leaders plan to implement initiatives involving AI this year, and 48% cite a lack of staff with AI skills as the biggest barrier to success. Further, AI and machine learning topped the list of skills where tech managers said gaps are most evident.

Organizations looking to leverage AI seek candidates with a mix of technical and soft skills. Among them are problem solving, communication, creative thinking and business acumen. And depending on a professional’s role in the business, the knowledge and skills they may need to work effectively with AI can include:

  • Programming
  • Data analysis and statistics
  • Machine learning
  • Software engineering
  • Ethics and responsible AI
  • Big data technologies
  • Deep learning frameworks
  • Computer vision

Building Future-Forward Tech Teams

To help hire, retain and advance high-performing tech teams, Robert Half recommends the following strategies:

  • Seek and develop high-potential candidates. Focus on recruiting technology candidates who have an eagerness to learn new skills that support business priorities and offer training to promising candidates who may not yet meet all your desired criteria.
  • Embrace a scalable talent model. Adopting a mix of permanent, contract and consulting professionals can help bridge skills gaps quickly and efficiently, allowing your team to access professionals with specialized expertise, keep projects moving forward and stay agile.
  • Support upskilling. Implement programs that encourage innovative thinking and ongoing learning. This will help prepare your employees and organization for the future and boost retention efforts.

Sutton added: “Today’s technology professionals must continuously evolve and refine their skill sets and capabilities to be effective on the job. And tech leaders will need to provide plenty of training opportunities and leverage internal and external talent to keep up with business priorities and uncover new opportunities.”

About the Research

The data from the report is from a survey developed by Robert Half and conducted by an independent research firm in October and November 2023. The survey contains responses from nearly 700 technology leaders at the director level or above at companies with 20 more employees in the United States.