Most IT Pros Think They Have a Dead-End Job. Here's How to Fix That.

April 13, 2017

The hard skill IT pros most want to learn is security, followed by cloud computing.

Recently, we at LinkedIn, in conjunction with Spiceworks, asked 198 IT pros what their biggest complaint about work was. Sixty-nine percent said their biggest gripe was a lack of opportunity for career advancement or a lack of training to facilitate that advancement.

In other words, IT employees overwhelmingly see their job as a dead-end one, with their company offering inadequate training or opportunity to convince them otherwise.

That’s crazy, considering it behooves businesses to solve that problem. Because giving IT workers more training opportunities and room for advancement won’t just make them happier and increase retention, it’ll also make them better at their jobs and help you build a strong internal pipeline for management positions.

Okay, so if you are in IT, you are probably thinking – great, but how do I fix that? What are the skills IT workers most want to learn, which I should provide?

Well, we asked that question to IT pros as well. First off, it is abundantly clear IT pros want to learn soft skills just as much as they want to learn hard skills.

Overall, 68 percent of those surveyed said learning soft skills was equally important to them as learning hard skills, with an additional 16 percent saying learning soft skills was more important to them than learning hard skills.

But what specific hard and soft skills do they want to learn? Well, here’s a full list of both the hard skills and the soft skills IT pros said they most wanted to learn, linked to a LinkedIn Learning course that teaches it:

The hard skills:

  1. Security
  2. Virtualization
  3. Cloud/Hosted Services

The soft skills:

  1. Communication
  2. Time management
  3. Collaboration/teamwork
  4. Decision making
  5. Conflict resolution

A few takeaways from the list

On the hard skills side, the list isn’t particularly surprising. Security is the highest priority today for most IT teams, with the threat of hackers and malware reaching a fever pitch.

Cloud and virtualization also make sense, as they are two of the ten most in-demand skills in the world, according to LinkedIn data. In fact, cloud computing is the single most in-demand skill today.

On the soft skills side, nothing is overly surprising as well. Communication, for example is the top skill professionals want to learn in 2017, according to LinkedIn data. So it makes sense it would also be the top soft skill for IT pros.

The other soft skills on the list have universal appeal: time management, teamwork and decision-making are key skills for anyone. The bigger takeaway is the weight IT pros put on learning soft skills, a reality organizations would be foolish to ignore.

The Main Point

The fact that most IT workers believe their job is a dead-end one is troubling for businesses. If most IT employees believe they need to switch companies or switch functions – for example, many want to become developers – to reach their dreams, that means you'll have high turnover and unhappy workers on your IT team.

That's not sustainable. Winning businesses don't have whole departments believing their jobs can't take them anywhere. 

How do you solve that problem? Here's a great case study on how LinkedIn approaches it, but really it comes down to offering both the opportunity and the training needed to advance. Above is the skills IT workers most want to learn – will you give them the opportunity to learn them?

*Image by Famartin, Wikipedia Commons

Want to learn more about the IT skills most key to advancement? Check out our data-rich guide that reveals the skills IT pros need to master to reach the next step in their careers.