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Bridging the Skills Gap: Attracting, Recruiting and Retaining Diverse Talent in ITSM

Bridging the Skills Gap: Attracting, Recruiting and Retaining Diverse Talent in ITSM

By Georgina Otubela
May 8, 2024

In April 2024, I had the pleasure of leading a panel discussion at the Service Desk and IT Support Show (SITS) at the ExCeL Centre in London, where I was able to shine a light on a topic, I feel passionate about–the sourcing and retention of diverse talent in the Service Management sector.

In this article we will explore:

I will share some alarming statistics, which upon reflection have really brought home the message that we have work to do in our respective roles within the standards industry. There is an apparent skills gap within the technology industry and from my experience and conversations with younger generations, I am saddened to have concluded that the concept of service management is evidently lacking in appeal to young people and professionals.

Beyond preaching to the converted, we have an obligation to shine a light on service management as a valid and fulfilling career choice. We must advocate for our passion and our profession by speaking about the value of service management and offer advice and opportunities to mentor young people and professionals to begin to fill the skills gap.

The Skills Gap in Technology

In today’s rapidly evolving technological landscape, the skills gap is a pressing issue that affects organisations across various industries. A recent report by Forbes highlighted that 93% of UK businesses acknowledge the existence of a significant skills gap, with 42% attributing it to the rapid advancement of technologies like AI, data analytics, and cloud computing.

However, beyond technical expertise, there’s growing recognition of a soft skills gap, particularly among the younger generation entering the workforce. In fields such as service management, where interpersonal skills are crucial, we must emphasise and cultivate qualities like problem-solving, communication, and customer service abilities. While technical skills can be taught, fostering a service-oriented mindset that prioritises human interaction remains crucial to successful operation and delivery of services.

Addressing the skills gap and promoting diversity and inclusion in the technology sector is essential from an ISO standpoint as it aligns with various ISO standards and principles related to quality management, information security, environmental management, risk management, and social responsibility. By investing in talent development and creating inclusive workplaces, not only can organizations enhance their performance, mitigate risks, and contribute to positive societal outcomes, they will contribute to fostering creativity, innovation, and better problem-solving. It also contributes to a more equitable and sustainable society.

Attracting and Sourcing Talent

The intersection of the skills gap with diversity and inclusion efforts is becoming increasingly apparent. As more young people seek career guidance from the internet and social media, there’s a disparity in access to resources, research by a panellist representing “Get my first job” indicates that 50% of young people do not have a CV.  Worryingly that figure is even lower (by up to 30%) for the population of young women. There is a need to “meet young people where they are” and invest innovative strategies and inclusive practices to encourage and support young people.

“Year 8 is too late.” By early teens, young people already have a pre-deposition as to what further education and career choices may look like to them based on their social circumstances and upbringing.  Waiting until young people enter the work force may not be timely for showcasing skills like service management. Concepts such as development and networking are taught to an extent in schools and universities with softer skill areas often overlooked.

A call to action to all reading this is that investing in young people and volunteering your time and experience will go a long way to future proofing the industry and cultivating future talent pools. A UK based charity; STEM Learning (part of the ENTHUSE Charitable Trust) asks a commitment of just one hour per year (although it is hoped that this number will be higher).

From personal experience I have worked with children of primary school age running problem solving activities and STEM focused activities such as construction and numerical problem solving. I have also spent time in secondary schools discussing further education options and exploring career aspirations of young people to provide clarity on soft skill requirements to support these aspirations and set them up for success. There is more to do. What will you do this year to support our future generations?

Retention of Talent

Retaining diverse talent presents its own set of challenges. According to a report by Microsoft, nearly half of women in technology leave the industry before the age of 35. Another alarming statistic is that women are 50% more likely than male counterparts to leave their careers in technology within a 10-to-20-year span, highlighting the urgent need for retention strategies. Addressing issues like micro-aggressions, misogyny, and unconscious bias in the workplace is essential to fostering an inclusive environment where diverse talent can thrive.

Cultivating Talent Pipelines

Organisations play a pivotal role in attracting diverse candidates. By showcasing a commitment to diversity and inclusion, they can appeal to a wider talent pool. However, creating an inclusive recruitment process is equally important. From eliminating bias in job descriptions to implementing diverse interview panels, organisations must ensure fairness and equity throughout the hiring process.

To cultivate talent pipelines that prioritise diversity and inclusion, organisations need to engage with future generations early on. Initiatives like STEM outreach programs and partnerships with educational institutions can bridge the gap between underrepresented groups and employment opportunities. By investing in mentorship programs and providing access to resources, organizations can nurture diverse talent from an early age.

In conclusion, addressing the skills gap in technology requires a multifaceted approach that encompasses both technical and soft skills development, as well as a commitment to diversity and inclusion. The responsibility and accountability extends far being the recruitment sector and organisations. Each of us has an obligation to support the future proofing of our industry and the cultivation of talent within future generations.

Next Steps

I encourage you to commit to making a difference by contributing to narrow the skills gap and future-proofing the service management industry. Consider implementing the following strategies:

  • Use social media to spotlight work in our respective areas. Will you be brave enough to go on camera and speak about the value of our industry?
  • Volunteer your time and share experiences with young people in education. There are numerous charities in the UK such as STEM Learning and STEMAZING who can support your effort and initiate communication with various education bodies.
  • Mentor and advise young professionals. Seek out those in need of mentoring, whether within your organisation, in the industry or in your professional and personal networks.
  • Invest in skills development beyond technical training and certifications within your organisation and teams. Foster soft skills development, present challenges that require teams to work together to solve problem scenarios. This is a fun innovative way to encourage teamwork, knowledge sharing and build problem-solving skills.
  • Promote diversity and inclusion in your work practices and within your organisation starting from the attraction of talent all the way through to the onboarding and retention of people within your organisation.

Collaborate and share best practices and successes. Collaborate with industry peers, professional associations, and educational institutions to share best practices and lessons learned. By working together, organisations can drive collective impact and accelerate progress in addressing common challenges.

What else can you bring to the table? Share this article, and encourage your peers, HR teams, and leaders to read it and take action.

Georgina Otubela is a seasoned service delivery leader with 18 years of experience working in the IT Services industry.  She has a technical background specialising in IT support and infrastructure support roles before pursuing a career in service management and leadership within the financial, media and gaming sectors in the UK.  She has a genuine passion for delivering exceptional service and developing high performing teams, empowering them to achieve their goals through dedicated leadership and mentoring.

Georgina is an ITIL 4 Managing Professional as well as a Prince 2 & Prince2 Agile Practitioner. She is also a committee member of the British Standards Institute (BSI) and International Organization for Standardization (ISO), having recently contributed as a panel member as part of the ISO IT Service Management Standard Community discussing future proofing and enthusing future generations in Service Management.

Georgina is a STEM ambassador working with schools within the UK to promote and encourage young people considering careers within the technology and service management sector.  She is also a Women in Tech advocate and mentor. You can connect with Georgina through https://www.linkedin.com/in/georgina-otubela/


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Disclaimer: The ideas, views, and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of International Institute for Learning or any entities they represent

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