IT skills gap (information technology skills gap)

Contributor(s): Emily McLaughlin

In human resource management, an information technology (IT) skills gap is a mismatch between the technical knowledge an employer needs to meet business objectives and the capabilities of the organization's employees.

Closing the IT skills gap by aligning the current state of workforce IT knowledge with forecasted future needs is a complicated proposition for C-level executives. Today, employers often struggle to locate and retain qualified tech talent, especially individuals with application development, security and data analysis skills.

Common approaches to closing an IT skills gap include recruitment process outsourcing, social recruiting, off-site training, employee mentor incentives, mentoring services, in-house turnkey training and partnerships with universities.

In many instances, an IT job will remain unfilled for an extended period of time when an employer needs to hire someone who has a very specific set of skills. In recruiting lingo, such candidates are referred to as purple squirrels. Because squirrels in the real world are not often purple, the implication is that finding the perfect job candidate with exactly the right qualifications, education and salary expectations can be a daunting – if not impossible -- task.

See also: hard skills, soft skills

This was last updated in July 2014

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Which technologies in your organization magnify the IT skills gap?
Embedded systems application development
For us it's the fact that we have a social application that's been around for a long time, and it uses languages in its code base that a lot of younger tech people are not familiar with. We are in the process of updating a lot of it, but there will be a core of the system for a long time to come that it will be tricky to find people with both the skills to update the legacy code as well as work on the "new hotness".