The IT skills shortage gets talked about a lot across a variety of areas. Yet training is often not seen as a priority in organisations. In the lightly edited Q&A below, Chris Ducker, senior director of global proposition strategy at Sungard Availability Services, offers his opinion on why companies still aren\u2019t providing IT staff with the level of training they need. (And why mainframes are just as important as AI.)\nWhy do you think companies aren\u2019t training their IT teams?\nThe demands placed on the IT team continue to grow. Managing legacy technology whilst driving the adoption of new technologies to keep the company working optimally and innovating, means the IT department is stretched. Finding the time to resource it all and train staff with the range of skills needed is very difficult.\nIn addition, new entrants to the workforce do not possess legacy skills or working practices; for example, how many millennials are adept at managing a mainframe? They are more likely to be great at utilising containers in developing applications or using an agile DevOps approach. But even they need to learn how to leverage Artificial Intelligence and machine learning in automating processes or developing new innovative services.\nThere are skills shortages across a lot of areas\u2014from security to emerging technologies\u2014where is the biggest need?\nIronically one of the fastest growing needs is in legacy skills\u2014this knowledge is either leaving the workforce or moving to other companies. This is a huge risk as systems and applications that are core to the business will go unsupported if these skills are not replaced.\nNew talent is more concerned with acquiring the skills of the future (AI and Machine learning) than the skills of the past (mainframe or proprietary in-house applications).\nDo you think upskilling is more important than hiring new IT talent?\nBoth are vital, yet upskilling is necessary for both attracting and retaining staff as it shows a willingness to invest in their future.\nWhat will it take to provide IT teams with the necessary skills for the future?\nOne good solution is outsourcing the management of legacy infrastructure to an organisation that has retained legacy skills. That way the organisation can invest in upskilling staff with new tech skills and keep them motivated, yet still maintain the full range of skills available to the organisation.\nWhere is the greatest training need in the IT department?\nThe IT department needs to take on more of a leadership role, helping department leaders to make their own decisions and investments around IT. Part of this will mean providing guidance and support on maintaining good security, regulatory compliance and a co-ordinated approach to the use of IT across the business. These leadership skills are often overlooked by the IT team as many focus on the technology demands and not the business demands.\nWhat is the greatest mistake most organisations make when it comes to training (aside from not doing enough of it)?\nReacting rather than standing back and assessing all the options before deciding on an approach. The skills development approach needs to reflect how the business wants to use IT, where they are in terms of digital transformation and what skills the business needs to deliver those goals.\nIs there anything else you\u2019d like to share?\nIt is not about having all the skills in-house. As the CIO becomes more of a business leader than a manager of IT systems their remit broadens, and the skills required do too. They need to look beyond their in-house team for the skills they have traditionally held internally and consider using third party service providers to resource traditional IT management. This way they can spend time on leveraging innovation to remain competitive (or disrupt) in their specific market space, and still have the mission critical legacy workloads covered.