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Companies report biggest technical skills gaps in cybersecurity, cloud



Cybersecurity, cloud and software development make up the top areas with the largest technical skills gaps, according to an April 22 report from Pluralsight, a technology workforce development company.

In fact, cybersecurity and cloud have been named the two areas with the largest skills gaps since 2021, the company reported. Despite the hype around artificial intelligence and machine learning skills, the report found that AI/ML skills gaps were among the lowest priority to address.

“While we know AI/ML skills are increasingly critical, we’ve also found that organizations have other, more immediate upskilling priorities,” Aaron Rosenmund, senior director of security and GenAI skills at Pluralsight, said in a statement. “Considering that the average cost of a data breach is $4.45 million and that successful cyber-attacks are continuing to exponentially increase year-over-year, it becomes clear why cybersecurity skills are top of mind for organizations.”

In a survey of 1,400 executives and IT professionals, 65% said cybersecurity skills were lacking most, followed by cloud (52%) and software development (40%). In addition, 63% said cybersecurity skills were the most important to learn in the next year, followed by cloud (47%) and software development (45%).

When thinking about hiring versus upskilling in these areas, 66% of survey respondents said hiring takes longer or the same amount of time as upskilling their current employees. Beyond that, Pluralsight noted the average cost of hiring new tech talent in the U.S. is more than $23,000 and takes 10 weeks, while 57% said they spend only $5,000 per employee on upskilling.

Even so, many business leaders have expressed concerns that they can’t train employees quickly enough to meet tech-related demands in coming years, according to a report from the World Employment Confederation. About 80% said it’s never been this difficult to plan for future talent requirements, and more than 90% said they’ll need a more flexible workforce approach, including hiring contingent workers, adopting a skills-based approach to hiring and considering more internal flexibility. 

In turn, workers are trying to boost their skills and seek out learning and development opportunities, with demand increasing for courses in AI, IT and leadership, according to a report from Udemy. While tech categories and GenAI have seen major growth, soft skills have surged as well, with workers enrolling in courses about active listening and customer service skills.

Proficiency in technology and data science skills dropped significantly in 2021, according to a Coursera report, which has contributed to today’s ongoing skills gaps and tech talent shortages. Companies will need to invest in both high-demand digital skills and soft skills to remain competitive as the workforce continues to change, the report found.

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