Skip to content

Contact sales

By filling out this form and clicking submit, you acknowledge our privacy policy.

How to know where the skills gaps are on your IT teams

Learn how to use a skills taxonomy, skills inventory, and gap analysis to identify technical skills gaps on IT teams and drive skill development programs.

Jul 2, 2024 • 4 Minute Read

Please set an alt value for this image...
  • Engineering Leadership
  • Business
  • Team Development
  • Learning & Development

According to our 2024 Technical Skills Report, only 33% of executives completely understand the skills their IT teams need. How can they gain this insight and use it to create effective employee upskilling? By comparing the skills teams have with the skills they need. 

Learn how to identify skills gaps using a skills taxonomy, skills inventory, and gap analysis.

Table of contents

Identify the skills your organization needs with a skills taxonomy

The skills gap refers to the difference between the skills teams have and the skills they need to execute and deliver in their role.

To identify your organization’s skills gaps, first understand the skills you need to achieve organizational goals and deliver for customers. You can do this through a skills taxonomy. 

A skills taxonomy is a hierarchical list of the skills and capabilities your organization needs. It typically starts broad and becomes more detailed, organizing skills into groups based on criteria like department or role. How important a skill is to your organization and/or the level of expertise it requires may also determine where it falls in the hierarchy. 

For example, everyone on your IT team will need broad information technology skills, like programming and cloud computing. As you move down the hierarchy into specific roles, the taxonomy also becomes more specific, listing detailed hardware, software, and soft skills. 

A cloud engineer, for instance, may need experience with Python and JavaScript; cloud platforms like AWS, Azure, or GCP; DevOps best practices; and communication and problem-solving skills.

You don’t need to create your organization’s skills taxonomy from scratch. Use these sources as starting points:

  • Explore job descriptions and resumes for relevant skills, qualifications, and experience

  • Consider the platforms and tools your organization uses (and the skills needed to use them)

  • Speak with team leaders to understand the skills they need on their teams

  • Align with organizational goals to ensure you identify current and future skill needs

  • Analyze industry trends and reports to identify emerging skills

  • Browse online skill libraries like O*NET

Benchmark current skills by conducting a skills inventory

Once you’ve determined the skills and capabilities your organization needs, assess your IT team’s current skills with a skills inventory. 

A skills inventory is a list of all the skills, capabilities, qualifications, certifications, and experience your current employees have. This should include tech skills and soft skills. Here are some ways to build up your skills inventory.

Conduct skill assessments

This is one of the most common ways to assess your employees’ skills. Skill assessments give you a way to identify employees’ strengths and knowledge gaps and benchmark them across your organization. They don’t always assess hands-on application, though, so don’t use them as your sole source of truth.

Ask employees to complete self-assessments

Ask employees to rate their proficiency and confidence for the skills, software, hardware, tools, and topics in their skills taxonomy. Self-assessments ensure you get employee input and empower them throughout the process. 

You may also consider sharing these self-assessments (or at least parts of them) within your tech teams. This way, technologists can see who has what skills and who to ask for mentoring or on-the-job training for specific tools or skills.

Get feedback from other teams

You can’t evaluate soft skills with assessments. Get feedback from leaders and peers, including those on other teams, to understand soft skills and how employees interact with others. You can do this for technical skills and competencies as well.

Look at performance metrics and performance reviews

Another way to gauge employees’ skills is to look at their performance reviews. Are they meeting their performance targets? Where have they exceeded expectations or over delivered? Where have they fallen short of their goals?

Just remember, low performance isn’t always a result of skills gaps. Other factors, like lack of clarity or support, can impact performance. Use a combination of methods to conduct a comprehensive employee skills inventory.

Perform a gap analysis to find skills gaps

After you’ve created your skills taxonomy and inventory, compare the skills you need with the skills you have. Where are they mismatched? These are your skills gaps, or the skills your IT teams need to contribute to organizational goals.

If you created a robust skills taxonomy and inventory, you should spot these gaps easily. However, if the skills gaps aren’t obvious, turn to your IT operations for clues. Certain patterns are often indicative of larger skills gaps across technology teams. 

  • Look at incidents. Is there a pattern? Do incidents that require a certain skill or technology occur more often?

  • Look at tickets. Which tickets take the longest to complete? Do the same people always take tickets on certain topics?

As tech evolves, business needs change, and employees learn new skills, the skills your organization needs will change, too. Regularly update your IT skills taxonomy and inventory to find and fill skills gaps. Share your gap analysis with stakeholders to inform hiring and training decisions.

Fill technical skills gaps with a skill development strategy

Once you’ve identified your IT teams’ technical skills gaps, you’ll need a strategy to fill them. Learn how to create a tech skill development strategy for tech professionals—download the report.

Pluralsight Content Team

Pluralsight C.

The Pluralsight Content Team delivers the latest industry insights, technical knowledge, and business advice. As tech enthusiasts, we live and breathe the industry and are passionate about sharing our expertise. From programming and cloud computing to cybersecurity and AI, we cover a wide range of topics to keep you up to date and ahead of the curve.

More about this author