Discover how education technology can close the IT skills gap
Discover how education technology can close the IT skills gap
Don't you want to read? Try listening to the article in audio mode 🎧

It’s no secret that the IT industry is growing faster than ever. Working professionals in the IT industry have ample opportunities to rise in their careers and earn plenty of money. But in terms of worldwide IT prominence, America is falling behind.

It’s all due to the “IT skills gap.” But although many employers are currently struggling to fill available IT positions with competent candidates, it might be possible to close the IT skills gap through new educational technology. Let’s take a closer look.

What Is the IT Skills Gap?

The IT skills gap is the measurable lack of qualified candidates for many IT industry positions in the United States and other high-income countries. To understand this, you need to understand the state of the IT industry overall.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, IT professionals are being hired at a record pace. As of June 2023, there have already been nearly 200,000 new IT jobs posted since the start of the year. This is due to a wide range of factors, including an increased reliance on technology across major industries and a focus on securing American industrial dominance.

This growth has been accelerating for some time. October 2022, for example, saw the overall number of new tech position openings reach 360,000.

Unfortunately, the American professional sector is not necessarily equipped or ready for such a glut of job openings. According to research, 15-year-old US students in the Program for International Student Assessment for Math and Science only scored a collective average of 482 out of 600. Meanwhile, students in Japan and South Korea had averages of 532 and 528, respectively.

This trend has been seen among older individuals, as well. In short, American IT workers are not as skilled as their foreign counterparts.

Why Is the IT Skills Gap Growing?

The IT skills gap has certainly caused worry among politicians, thought leaders, and business professionals. But no one can fully determine why the IT skills gap has appeared and continues growing.

There are several potential reasons why the US lags behind other countries in terms of IT skill development. For example:

  • Jobs in STEM require more advanced degrees and take longer to complete than the training needed for other tech careers. This makes getting an education much more expensive and greatly limits the number of students able to enrol in IT courses. While students have different means to help pay for college, including HELOC, student loans, grants, and other financing opportunities, not everyone may qualify, keeping application and enrollment levels low and increasing the IT skills gap. 
  • American schools may not provide sufficient preparation or motivation in their educational programs, leading to program attrition over time.

Ultimately, however, the reason for the IT skill gap does not matter nearly as much as determining ways to overcome and resolve it.

How Education Technology May Close the IT Skills Gap

Education technology, from learning platforms to videoconferencing software to online information repositories, provides new tools and options for learners of all stripes, especially STEM students. These educational technologies and tools might be the means to close the IT skill gap and “upskill” employees over the coming years.

Collaborative Learning

For example, education technology may facilitate better, more successful collaborative learning. Since they have not historically required students to meet each other in person, many online colleges have foregone the classic cohort college program format often found in many engineering and other tech programs.

However, that may soon change. The COVID-19 pandemic led to a resurgence in videoconferencing and collaborative project software, and many classrooms – both online and in person – adopted the same tech. Through the use of collaborative project platforms, online collaborative learning is now possible.

That’s a good thing for future IT program students. Being able to collaborate with your peers, ask questions, and benefit from all the social elements of a traditional college experience is absolutely vital. This might reduce attrition with online programs and allow American students to support each other through difficult STEM classes.

Access to Course and Learning Materials Anywhere

Education technology also permits open access to courses and learning materials anywhere, anytime. Both online and in-person students can benefit from having access to textbooks, class notes, recorded lectures, and so on from college portals and platforms.

Not only does this allow tech students to learn at their own pace or refresh material they didn’t grasp the first time, but it also enables better study and greater collaboration. In aggregate, giving STEM students the tools they need to thrive could be the difference in the IT skill gap.

IT Resource Repositories

Then, there are expansive, accessible IT resource repositories. Resources like code repositories, tutorials, lectures, etc., give students and working professionals the educational materials they need to hone or improve their skills.

Imagine being an IT professional at a growing company. You want to qualify for a promotion, but you don’t have the requisite certification. Rather than having to go to a traditional college, you can take advantage of IT resource repositories and databases to learn everything you need to qualify for a competency exam.

Employee development programs might make heavy use of these resources for in-house training purposes, as well.

Online College and Certificate Classes

You can’t forget the wealth of educational technology that enables comprehensive, effective online college and certificate classes for anyone. These days, it’s easier than ever for working professionals to take part-time college or certificate programs, bolstering their resumes and allowing them to continually refine and improve their skills. In areas like STEM – where stagnation can cause working professionals to be passed up for promotion opportunities – this is absolutely vital.

Students, as well, can participate in a plethora of quality online college programs that never require setting foot in a traditional classroom. For some students, this can be cheaper than visiting a college in person. For others, it might be more convenient if they have to work at the same time or take care of family responsibilities while completing their education.

Higher Teacher Productivity

Lastly, education technology also has the potential to improve teacher productivity. Software that automates rote tasks and helps manage class calendars can free up valuable teaching time for important work like grading papers, preparing lesson plans, and meeting with students one on one if they need individual attention. Higher teacher productivity is positively correlated with better student results, especially when it comes to difficult STEM courses and programs.

Conclusion

Education technology may be the key to closing the IT skills gap in America and beyond. By leveraging it smartly and comprehensively, students will have greater access to educational resources. More importantly, STEM programs in American colleges and other training facilities will be better equipped to provide their students with what they need to thrive.

Article updated on: 09 October 2023
Talent Garden
Written by
Talent Garden, Digital Skills Academy

Keep reading

Product Metrics: What they are, and how to use them?

If the large world of User Research for a digital product could be summed up in a paragraph, two extremes of the ...

James Reeve's Guide to UI Design

How can you become a UI Designer? Learning from the best. That’s why we interview James Reeve, Creative Director of ...
The Definitive Guide to Optimizing Employee Training

The Definitive Guide to Optimising Employee Training and Development

Helping your employees learn and grow is important. It’s a big part of what makes a business successful, but figuring ...
Cos'è l'EAA?

Navigating the European Accessibility Act: A Simple Guide for Businesses

If you're operating in the European Union, it's time to get ready for an important change coming your way. The European ...