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As new research shows that public sector organisations in particular are faced with increasing problems in recruiting and retaining staff, is greater investment in training the way forward?

The study undertaken by Hays and the CIPD shows that recruitment of managers and senior level staff within the public sector is a worrying problem. 38% of the public sector organisations surveyed reported that it was especially hard to fill vacancies at manager and specialist levels.

Meanwhile a lack of specialist or technical skills continues to be the biggest reason cited for recruitment difficulties across all sectors, with 71% of organisations also highlighting that there has been an increase in applications from unsuitable candidates. Despite the sheer weight of application numbers due to high levels of unemployment, three-fifths of organisations report that competition for talent is greater now than it has ever been.

Alongside recruitment, retention of employees has also been an issue, with two-thirds of organisations reporting problems.

Rebecca Clake, research adviser at CIPD, said: “Headlines focus on high levels of unemployment and public sector cut backs, but those stark statistics mask an ongoing struggle for employers to find the skills and experience they need to drive their organisations forward.

So, with the struggle to find appropriate skills in external candidates, surely better and more focused training of existing staff is the way forward? The respondents to a study by CompTIA earlier in the year entitled ‘The State of the IT Skills Gap’ certainly thought so.

The respondents, all IT and business managers, said that their IT workers come up short in skills in both existing core areas such as security, data storage and improving network infrastructure together with emerging areas that included business process automation, mobility, collaboration and virtualisation.

And the solution? Well, nearly six in ten organisations confirmed that they intended to address their IT skills gap challenges by training or retraining existing staff in areas where skills are lacking.

“The expected commitment to more education is an encouraging sign” commented Terry Erdle, executive vice president, skills certification at CompTIA. “IT professionals have a strong propensity for lifelong learning and skills enhancement, so the large majority will welcome the opportunity to broaden their knowledge. An investment in new IT education and training will deliver strong return on investment to the business’s bottom line.”

However, there is much still to be done. The study also reveals that 25% of the organisations surveyed have no method to identify IT skills gaps in the first place…

If you would like more information on skills gap analysis or skills management frameworks, visit the Global Knowledge website at www.globalknowledge.co.uk/solutions

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