CDAIT IoT Sensor 10.20.2021

Posted October 20, 2021

Angelina Kim, The Center for the Development and Application of the Internet of Things (CDAIT)

IoT Adoption and the need for advanced skills

           While the Internet of Things (IoT) and its applications are enjoying an almost universal uptake, a key consideration ­ — workforce and training and the skills gap merits some examination. With a relatively new, complex, and rapidly growing field like IoT, new skills are needed to support it and its implementation as new challenges and needs arise. IoT requires highly skilled individuals to fill gaps in fields like engineering, data science and management, cybersecurity and risk specialists, technical management of the devices themselves, manufacturing, and more. The challenge comes when the skills and expertise of the current workforce both within and outside of a company may fall behind what is actually needed.

           The data and previous studies show that the skills gap is no small issue. A 2020 survey by IoT World Today found that 45% of companies surveyed said lack of skills and expertise were a problem area. This supplements a PwC survey that reports that 74% of CEOs are concerned about the availability of key skills. A study from Microsoft in 2019 also found that only 33% of companies surveyed said that they had enough workers and resources. Of those that stated that they were struggling, 40% stated that this was because of lack of knowledge, 38% because of lack of budget, and 28% because they could not find the correct solutions. Adding to the issue, given the rapid increase in the use of IoT technology and applications, companies are also competing with each other to hire from the same limited group of people.

Confronting the Skills Gap

           Despite the daunting challenge of training a new workforce, there are already many suggestions as to how to confront the skills gaps.

Upskill Existing Workers

           One of the first solutions or suggestions is to upskill existing workers. While there may be a tendency to try to hire new employees, training existing employees can be more cost effective and important. To keep up with the new evolution that IoT brings, cultivating an environment of continuous learning and training is essential. Companies can accomplish in house training through funding their employees’ learning through online training programs or courses, workshops, or innovation sprints. Microsoft, for instance, has created a platform, Microsoft Azure, that specializes in providing training for IoT development and applications.

           Coding camps are another alternative for training to fill in the knowledge gap that some employees have. In addition, micro-credentials, which are obtained through demonstrating competency in an area, can also be obtained through certified online courses or supplementary educational programs. Encouraging apprenticeships that award people work experience while also allowing them to take classes, are yet another way that employees can prepare their future workforce.

Encourage Learning At post-secondary Level[BPM1] 

           Yet another way to decrease the skill gap is to encourage development at the post secondary (community college, university) level. This can happen through sponsored projects and clubs or internships related to IoT development. For example, sponsored projects could happen through a senior year class; this allows for a blended learning and skills-based environment. Apprenticeships can also tie in the resources from community colleges and other educational institutions.

           Companies can also provide access to their resources for students. For example, IBM’s Community College Skills Accelerator offers free access to IBM software so students can learn relevant skills .Encouraging education and training early on ensures that the graduating students have more applicable skill sets that match what the industry seeks.  

Partner with Outside Consultants

           To fill in the skill gap, companies can also look towards external resources like outside consultants and industry groups for their needs. These outside resources can bring additional expertise or specialization that would otherwise be difficult to replicate. For example, when confronting a cybersecurity issue, a company can go consult with an external consultancy that focuses on cybersecurity issues and harness their prowess.


For Further Reading:

Skill Gaps Persist In IoT Disciplines

Addressing the IoT Developer Skill Gap

FIlling the IoT Skills Gap in 2021

When Bridging the IoT Skills Gap

How to Plug the IoT Skills Gap

Overcoming the IoT Security Skills Gap

Close the IoT Skills Gap with training and outside experts

Addressing the Coming IoT Talent Shortage

What is Apprenticeship