Apr 09 2018

3 Ways Banks Can Close the Digital Skills Gap

These tactics can help financial institutions gain the IT talent they need to progress toward digital transformation.

Every industry struggles to find qualified IT professionals, but survey data indicates banking has it among the worst. According to a 2017 report from Capgemini Digital Transformation Institute, 62 percent of banking respondents said the digital talent gap has widened over the last couple of years — that’s 7 percent higher than the cross-industry response.

The shortage of digital skills pits company against company in the fight to fill positions in data analytics, user experience design, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and other areas. Half of banking institutions have a difficult or very difficult time accomplishing that task, a Peak 10 study found.

“The persistent difficulty is probably due to the fact that other industries simply have more to offer technology professionals in the way of innovation and exciting career opportunities,” the report states. “It is difficult to entice tech enthusiasts with roles that may deal with legacy technologies and do not guarantee hands-on experience with new solutions.”

Overcoming hiring challenges won’t be easy, but there are steps banks can take to make the skills gap less of a hindrance to innovation.

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1. Outsource IT Tasks, Especially Cybersecurity 

Many organizations coping with the skills shortage are turning to third-party experts for help keeping up with demand. Managed security services, in particular, have become a go-to choice across industries.

“In 2018, spending on security outsourcing services will total $18.5 billion, an 11 percent increase from 2017,” Ruggero Contu, a research director at Gartner, said in a press release. “The IT outsourcing segment is the second-largest security spending segment after consulting.”

By handing off the monitoring and management of security technologies — including firewalls, intrusion detection systems and threat intelligence solutions — in-house IT teams can spend less time putting out security “fires” and instead focus on projects that further core objectives and promote innovation.

2. Be Open to Workers with Alternative IT Training 

Banks and financial institutions that prefer to seek a dedicated IT staff will need to keep an open mind when reviewing candidates. While traditional training is still valuable, two- and four-year degree programs are no longer the only path to a career in IT. Alternative education programs, such as coding boot camps, provide immersive training over a shorter period of time.

According to an Indeed survey, boot camp graduates have proven their worth in the workplace: Of the 80 percent of recruiters and human resources managers who have hired one of these candidates, 99.8 percent said they would do it again. By embracing IT professionals with alternative credentials, banks and financial institutions gain access to the in-demand skills and certifications these prospects possess — all while promoting a more diverse workforce.

Adopting collaboration technologies presents another way of expanding the candidate pool. Videoconferencing, instant messaging and other popular tools make communication seamless, enabling banks to hire the right professionals, regardless of their location. Such technologies also create remote work opportunities for those living locally. By giving employees the workplace flexibility they crave, collaboration technologies not only attract new workers but also help organizations retain the digital talent they already have.

3. Develop Tech Talent from Within

Beyond attracting outside candidates, banks and financial institutions can promote and train existing workers to build an in-house team that can keep pace with fast-paced technology changes.

Cybersecurity — identified as a critical IT skill in a recent Spiceworks survey — is one discipline that doesn’t lack for certifications. Organizations can fund some or all of the training to incentivize credentials such as Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Information Systems Security Professional and Certified Information Systems Auditor.

Leveraging disruptive technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) will also require banks to upskill workers.

“Unlike other technological evolutions in the past, IoT is driving the convergence of operational technology and information technology departments,” Sudarshan Krishnamurthi, director of product management at SolarWinds MSP, told CIO Dive. “This requires that individuals gain skills in areas that they weren't previously exposed to.”

Setting aside time for workers to take part in formal training and certification programs is also important. According to the Capgemini report, 52 percent of IT professionals say they are not given the time or resources to attend training, a problem that reduces their interest in participating at all.

On the flip side, Capgemini found that prioritizing learning can attract talented IT candidates who value professional growth, which makes internal training an even more valuable tool for supporting digital transformation and driving the business forward.

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