John Guido | July 19, 2022
At P2P Global, we are often asked about our core value proposition. Simply put, we help facilitate partner-to-partner collaboration for a range of needs – with a priority on solving for skill gaps. As such, we are a skills-based platform. When discussing the “need for skills,” the topic of “skill shortages” is at the top of the challenges that need to be addressed. This blog expands our typical discussion of partnering by including the need to invest in training for both internal channel partner consumption – and resale as part of total solution offerings.
Technology has already transformed the way we work. Yet, despite the significance of technology in shaping new work patterns, most organizations are still struggling to find and keep IT talent.
According to research by Skillsoft’s IT Skills and Salary Report, 76% of IT decision makers report critical skills gaps amongst their team. This study shows that executives are concerned that the future may be grim as far as IT labor shortages are concerned.
As the tech industry continues to evolve and scale, the need for skills and solving for skill gaps has never been more essential. Organizations large and small are facing the ever-pressing issue of filling roles they don’t have internally; whether it’s coding, cloud migration, AI integration, or even brand specific skills – help is needed.
So how do you start solving for these skill gaps?
While there is no “one size fits all,” there are general steps that channel partners can follow by developing an overall education strategy and know “when & how” to partner with others to solve for skill gaps. Read more to gain our top insight on how to manage the challenge of IT skill shortages as we discuss:
- What Skills Are Currently in Demand
- How This is Impacting the Channel
- The Opportunity to Resell Training Courses
- Perspectives from a Leading Technology Company, Microsoft
- How to Solve for Skill Gaps
While the demand for IT skills has grown abundantly throughout the past decade, and especially during the pandemic, the pipeline of skilled talent has not kept pace. For instance, programmers and software developers are in short supply, and recruiters are already facing another challenging year as the demand for programmers soars. But this is just scratching the surface – demand for IT skills go much broader.
The SHRM recently released data from three studies of nearly 10,000 tech recruiters and developers identified that half of the organizations struggle to find the right personnel. This corresponds with further research that shows that despite the soaring demand for IT skills, skilled personnel are hard to find and keep.
When interviewing Mark Onisk, Chief Content Officer, at Skillsoft, he was asked for his opinion on a variety of pressing issues within the IT discourse, like the current demand for education and training parallel to the skill shortages we are experiencing nationwide, the top skills in demand, the education that is needed to develop and cater to specific skills, and how important leadership training is. Upon elaboration, he mentioned:
“The skills needed for organizations to remain competitive are vastly different today than even just a year or two ago. The skills gap is affecting businesses of all sizes, across all industries, in all locations. The lack of qualified and properly trained employees in key positions is leaving them understaffed and struggling to keep pace with demands. To close skills gaps, organizations must assess the biggest areas of need, focus learning programs and curriculum accordingly, build and embrace cultures of continuous learning, layer in coaching and mentorship, and measure employee satisfaction and improvement and adjust accordingly.
Furthermore, Onisk stated,
Cybersecurity and cloud are also amongst the most constrained labor pools. Given the scarcity in talent, the ROI on internal reskilling and upskilling programs in support of these areas is readily apparent. To enable technical teams, learning leaders need enterprise-grade solutions that scale to the needs of the modern digital organization. To develop mastery, learners need the ability to learn, discuss, practice, and contextualize concepts to address the specifics of their environment. Here at Skillsoft, we bring these elements to the enterprise and our partners.”
Hiring and recruitment gaps will continue to disrupt major IT projects. Nevertheless, emerging evidence shows that labor shortages will reinforce relationships between IT experts and HR leaders. Already, IT experts are working closely with HR leaders to close hiring and recruiting gaps. Unfortunately, existing research points to a possible labor shortage despite the growing skill demand – placing even more reasons to educate employees.
It’s not just about getting educated on IT products and solutions, there is a range of leadership training that are in high demand too. Leadership training spans IT management, project management, and organizational leadership. These combined with technical training further develops organizations to bring more value to the market.
How Does This Impact the Channel?
P2P recently interviewed Jay McBain, Chief Analyst – Channels, Partnerships & Ecosystems – Canalys, on how skill shortages can impact the IT channel, and what this means for the upcoming years of training in IT and technology.
“Over the last 40 years, training has been broken down into levels, all showing varying degrees of success with vendor designations. Having skills with AWS, Google, HubSpot, Cisco, Azure are what people are being trained with and are bragging about to the public.
However, the only place training has had in the ecosystem is very specific, somewhere between lower-level training and then higher level training, missing the vital middle piece due to lack of budget allocation. There is currently not a good IT curriculum designed for MSP, Reseller Integrators, or courses that allow staff to stay up to date within the multi-cloud/hypercloud discourse that they can then relay back to their customers.
The important thing to remember is that nobody is all things to all people. And it’s the cohort that is the most important thing right now. As companies announce their successes, based on skills and competencies, this will become the new approach to value channel partners.”
The need for additional flexibility and being able to pivot, often multiple times, has become the new normal. As customers continually evolve, they need solutions from multiple vendors. Customers are demanding that their “trusted advisors,” channel partners, have deep skills across solutions and product offerings.
For this reason, channel partners must continue to develop their skills by hiring new skilled staff, training, and/or developing a P2P strategy to solve for skill gaps. Having certified individuals in your tech stack helps not only an individual, but the company as well.
Certifications like Azure, VMware, Red Hat, CompTIA, and Certified Information Systems Auditor, etc. show that the individual not only has the skill set, but can validate their competency in the workplace. By offering employees the chance to grow in the workplace and investing in their skill sets supported with an educational roadmap to achieve key certifications, the retention rate increases across the board.
As the IT industry continues to flourish and more jobs become in demand, new practices and industry insights will emerge parallel. Organizations must grow their portfolio of certifications, embrace leadership training as the norm, and implement a partnering discipline to bridge skill gaps.
To gain further perspectives, we interviewed Skillsoft’s VP of Americas Ecosystem Sales, Doreen Marchetti, who has overall channel strategy and sales responsibility inclusive of Skillsoft’s Global Knowledge.
“The training journey is unique for every partner and customer. Our most successful partners have adopted learning assessments as part of their sales motion when deploying IT technology. The partner learns where the training gaps are and specifically what learning needs to take place for a long-term, effective IT adoption. To assist our channel partners in this journey, Solution Architects and Channel Account Executives are in place to support their internal and client assessments in an effort to complement their business focus and upskill needs.”
Like many enterprise companies, channel partners recognize the value in maintaining employee skills and offering opportunities to upskill. Many partners schedule training around their core competencies – such as networking, cloud, AI – so their sellers and staff evolve to a trusted advisor with their clients and partners.
We asked Marchetti to expand on additional best practices being implemented by channel partners:
- Most commonly, partners simply schedule training around their core competencies – such as networking, cloud, AI – so their sellers and staff continue to evolve as a trusted advisor with their clients and partners.
- Partner’s host their clients in a private training class – learning and supporting each other through the training process, all while building stronger relationships and friendships.
- Partners offer “guest seats” to their employees who achieve specific milestones or performance targets. An employee finds value in their employers who invest in their careers and growth.
- Partners offer an annual stipend for their employees to take courses in support of an educational roadmap.
- Our most strategic partners implement both an internal and resale education training strategy – inclusive of clothing transactions with training courses for their customers.
A Channel Play: Reselling Training Courses
The skill shortage does not only place a constant demand on channel partners to maintain their skills – but also represents an opportunity for new revenue streams by reselling training to their customers. As a trusted advisor selling solutions, why not offer the complete solution by offering a customer training course specific to the solutions being delivered?
Typically, this has been an overlooked opportunity for many and simply not a top priority for channel partner’s reps. Almost every customer proposal could include some level of a “training proposal” – a clothing strategy to expand customer value while increasing profit.
For instance, a company re-selling Cisco products or hardware can also be involved in educating their customers about Cisco-certified software or business applications education training courses. This company can earn revenues and increase earnings through education reselling programs.
We asked Marchetti to expand on the opportunity for channel partners to resell training to their customers:
“In addition to providing more value to their customers, channel partners need the resell process to be easy and profitable. Margins range by modality, volume of students per class, if private or public and the vendor from 15% to 50%, with an average of 40%.
Once a channel partner becomes an authorized reseller, they can start selling immediately – no annual performance gates, no upfront costs, no minimums. To make it easy, we manage everything from registration, class materials, labs and virtual IDs as appropriate – partners receive the white glove support to ensure high NPS scores by the students leaving them wanting to come back for more training. We instill lifetime learning for the channel partner and their clients.
Partners consume training from across our vast portfolio but the most sought after are business training, Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, and a range of vendor specific courses. With our recent acquisition of Codecademy, we are beginning to see the uptake on demand for coding training too. In addition, Leadership and development training is in demand to enhance their management skills and leadership qualities at affordable costs and conveniently virtual.”
Talent shortages continue to rock most IT sectors. Presently, businesses are busy with projects but are experiencing resource shortages, labor shortages being the greatest culprit. In September 2021, Forbes acknowledged that approximately 54% of companies globally are fighting a grueling labor shortage – and this tech industry is not exempt. Building your skill set with training and certifications has been a driving point to stay relevant.
“Training, reskilling or upskilling should not be left to one party. It’s a shared responsibility with all the channel parties (vendors, distributors and resellers) involved playing a crucial part in ensuring that channel talents acquire the right skills set to meet emerging needs of the consumer and broader market trends.” – Bob Aoun, Regional Sales Director, MEA, Poly.
A vendor’s channel is an extension of their sales team and is only as good as the skills they can deliver to the market. We sat down with Laura Comiskey, Partner Sales Executive at Microsoft. Laura has served as a Director in Microsoft’s Worldwide Learning Channels organization for the past 4 years, with a focus on driving Microsoft technical skilling and cloud adoption through strategic partners like Skillsoft.
When asked for her insight on training and development within the channel and the current skills shortage, she responded:
“Training has always been important for Microsoft products, but with the fast pace of cloud innovation and the widening skills gap, it is more important than ever. Every company is now a tech company. Given the pace of innovation, we know every company is facing a more rapid digital transformation than planned. However, this opportunity comes with significant challenges. Technology is accelerating the need for new jobs and tech skills. It’s projected that by next year 27% of roles will be net new due to technology and 54% of employees will require re- or up-skilling. This skills gap is particularly concerning to employers, and 40% of them expect this shortage to negatively impact their business.”
Elaborating further upon the value of skills of channel partners, Comiskey explained,
Every day, Learning Partners, like Skillsoft, help drive deep technical expertise across thousands of customers and partners worldwide, and are essential in helping Microsoft scale our skilling efforts globally.
We’re incredibly proud of the pivotal role our global ecosystem of Learning Partners plays to lead in this area. And our partners are not only helping our customers maximize their investment in Microsoft, but they are also helping individuals find new jobs – and are driving new talent into the market.
In the end, our customers want to work with partners who have the right skills and capabilities to meet their needs, along with demonstrated ability to deliver their success.”
Solving for Skill Gaps
Unfortunately, despite the significance of technology in transforming business practices, labor shortages continue to affect adoption. That’s why companies are reporting higher turnover rates and lower retention rates, the IT sector is the most hit. So, when faced with skill shortages, businesses have three options: buy, train or partner up.
Clearly, the “buy option” can be an expensive approach. As an alternative, training offers strategic long-term solutions to ever-changing IT needs, eliminating the IT burden contemporary organizations have to face. IT is an ever-changing domain. That means companies must constantly train employees and equip them with new skills.
Partnering is another very viable option, as it is convenient, flexible, and offers an immersive experience. Using the P2P Marketplace, project owners can actively fill labor gaps in an open marketplace by collaborating with other members – becoming their own ecosystem orchestrator.
As stated earlier, P2P Global is truly a skills-based platform. Our members have skills that are in demand while other members have skill gaps that need to be satisfied. Our members pride themselves on their current skills with a priority to maintain the highest level of competencies. Over time, we will continue to enhance our platform to help our members address their training needs.
Get ahead of the curve, and begin preparing for the future of tomorrow – effectively collaborating with others with a platform approach. By bringing together P2P members to collaborate, companies not only grow their revenue, but deliver what customers really need – complete solutions.
P2P Global offers flexible and convenient channel collaborations that allow project players to partner on projects. Join us at P2P for free and discover how our platform can help you with your collaboration needs, fill the critical skill gaps, and find the resources required to expand your skill sets.