This article was originally published by LinkedIn.

“What is your top tactical advice for HR and IT teams looking to find top talent?”
Katie Malone, CIO Dive’s interviewer, asked me this question about the future of IT hiring. This was based on data from our IT Skills and Salary Report and the global training company that works closely to help organizations of all sizes develop their people. Katie’s article can be found here. I have a few thoughts.

IT professionals want a bright future.
Lack of growth opportunities is the number one reason IT pros are leaving their employers. IT pros left their employers because they didn’t have enough growth and development opportunities. Salary was not the top priority. 2.

Here are some things I would highlight if I tried to place myself in the shoes a hiring manager or HR professional.
It’s a great perk. Smart companies place great importance on long-term relevance, resilience, longevity. Protecting their training budgets is one of their most strategic investments. Technology cannot run companies. People do.

Your approach to professional development.Specifically, how is it handled? What learning resources are available for employees? Are employees given an on-demand training subscription or left to their own devices? Do there are learning requirements? Recently, I spoke to an IT manager who required that his team spend at least one hour per week learning something new. It also contributes towards their annual reviews. He gets it.

Demonstrate that you have vision. In most cases, you don’t have to invent the wheel. Learn from others about their successes. If you don’t have any, it’s a red flag. Do something about it! Recognize it internally, determine why it is happening, and develop a plan to change it.

These programs might not be available yet. As an HR manager and hiring manager, I will advocate them and present my business case. If they aren’t offered to all employees I say let’s pilot one. You must start somewhere.

The most important step after hiring people is…
…retaining them. It is cheaper to offer employees continuous learning opportunities than to replace them. In my article How To Convince Your Manager About the Benefits Of Training, I mentioned that 21% of employees will need to be replaced if they are not paid enough. This is a problem for IT professionals who are highly-skilled and make six figures.

We are pleased to report that in just one year, we have seen a significant shift within the IT decision-makers’ approval of training.
In 2019, 59% of IT decision-makers approved formal training. Formal training was approved in 2020 by 80% of IT decision makers, an increase of 21% This is significant as 75% of IT decision-makers are concerned with skills gaps.
Only 63% of IT decision-makers stated that formal training is offered to employees by their company. This is an increase by four percent from 2019.

More emphasis on skills. We should place less emphasis on degrees.
Prioritize skills and what people can do, if companies don’t already do so. Reduce your emphasis on degrees. It is time to lessen the importance of technical hiring. We must make changes when we read reports such as (ISC.2)’s Cybersecurity Workforce Study. These reports discuss the shortage in IT professionals with the right skills. Although degrees are important, they shouldn’t be the only thing that matters. This is especially true if new technologies and processes don’t get covered in school.

Why would you allow a degree to get in the way of someone who is capable of performing the job and is a good fit with the culture?