AI Skills Gap Must be Addressed Urgently, say 72% of IT leaders in Red Hat Survey

High workloads are preventing people from finding time to upskill, according to 44% of UK IT managers surveyed 


Red Hat, Inc., the world's leading provider of open source solutions, today announced new research revealing the top challenges that IT leaders surveyed are facing around skills, innovation and technology evolution. Overall, respondents cite strategic thinking and business skills (73%) and artificial intelligence (AI) skills (72%) as the crucial gaps that require urgent addressing. Further skills gaps identified include:

  • Cybersecurity skills (69%)
  • Agile delivery and the use of practices such as CI/CD pipelines, GitOps and automation (69%)
  • People and human skills (69%).

The study surveyed 300 UK IT managers in large enterprises. The research follows Red Hat’s recent Thriving through change with enterprise-wide IT automation report, which identified that the largest portion (27%) of UK IT leaders surveyed think a lack of talent is the biggest challenge for their businesses today.

Crucial skills gaps chart

IT leaders’ biggest skills challenges

When asked to consider why IT teams are experiencing a skills shortage, the top reasons cited were high workload preventing people from finding the time to upskill (44%) and lack of budget for training, upskilling or recruitment (44%). These were followed closely by:

  • Working in silos preventing cross-team learning opportunities (35%)
  • Inability to keep up with fast moving, complex software landscape (34%).

Having scalable, flexible, citizen-enabling IT platforms, and the right expertise to drive maximum business value from them, is crucial to keep pace with the rapid evolution of advancements like cloud and AI. A third (33%) of those surveyed believe they do have the right systems in place to serve business needs but don't have the right skill sets within the organisation to maximise the potential of the platforms. In contrast, nearly half (46%) of respondents state they need new systems to better serve the needs of their business.

Main reasons why IT teams are experiencing a skill shortage

Threats to innovation

When asked about the current barriers to innovation in their organisation, 36% of IT managers pointed to slow adoption of the latest processes and efficient ways of working, while 35% highlighted the lack of budget for effective training and upskilling.

Additional barriers to innovation were identified as:

  • Inability to recruit and retain the right talent (30%)
  • Lack of access to the right technology platforms to speed up software delivery (30%)
  • Not enough adoption of automation to speed up tasks and free up time (27%)
  • Insufficient headcount to address growing demand (25%).
Barriers to innovation

When asked what would be top of their wishlist to help their team and organisation innovate more and better, the ability to recruit and retain the right talent in the coming year was number one (33%). This was closely followed by having enough budget for effective training and upskilling (30%). A quarter of respondents are seeking the right technology platforms to speed up software delivery (25%), and the ability to measure the impact of innovation on business profitability, team satisfaction and performance (24%). 

Overcoming skills gaps with technology investment

Looking ahead to 2024, respondents were asked where they plan to allocate their next set of IT investments to scale their business and focus on outcomes. The largest response (30%) was on IT modernisation in order to embrace new technologies such as AI, cloud and containers.

Enterprise open source software has a significant role to play in supporting this, with nearly half of respondents (47%) agreeing that a top benefit for their business of using enterprise open source is that it can help them take advantage of emerging technologies including AI, containers and edge computing.

Top benefits of using enterprise open source software

Almost all respondents (98%) recognise business benefits of using enterprise open source now or in the future, with 67% saying they are currently using it. Of those using it, 80% say they are planning to increase their use of enterprise open source in the next two years, with 57% planning to increase their use of enterprise open source by 25-50% and 18% planning to increase their use of enterprise open source by 51-75% in the next two years.

80% of IT leaders are planning to increase their use of enterprise open source in the next two years

Supporting Quotes

Joanna Hodgson, country manager, UK, Red Hat

“The survey results reflect what we’re seeing with customers – that deploying the right technology platforms is the beginning of the journey to being more efficient and innovative. Organisations that take advantage of continuous deep collaboration with technology partners plugged into the broader business goals are better able to drive ongoing value from their platforms. At Red Hat we train and coach teams in adopting better processes and ways of working to maximise returns from the latest technologies. As the survey shows, IT teams are ramping up their use of enterprise open source to take advantage of community innovation in balance with stability, security and support from a trusted provider like Red Hat. Where the C-suite takes an active role in understanding the potential open source has to transform the business, it is best placed to innovate faster, improve the bottom line and navigate unpredictable futures.”

Holly Cummins, senior principal software engineer, Red Hat

“This survey highlights the classic challenge many individuals and businesses face: they don’t have enough time to implement the very changes that will save them time. The responses also show that people are a core part of the technological landscape. We know that developer experience – for external developers and those inside a company – is one of the most important determinants for business success. This means when providing any new technology, developers need time to get it set up for success and to upskill. Providing a consistent platform for your team, such as Red Hat OpenShiftRed Hat Enterprise Linux or Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform, requires less upskilling and helps keep down the cognitive load as well as costs. Whatever platform a business chooses also needs to have deep support for automation. The cloud-native world represents a significant acceleration in both how companies deliver software and how quickly software itself changes, making it all the more important that developers spend their time on high value work, rather than fighting incoherent platforms or doing repetitive tasks manually.”

Erica Langhi, senior solution architect, EMEA, Red Hat

“AI skills are highly sought after, as we see in this research and in our everyday conversations with partners and customers. This is about more than technical and coding ability, where generative AI can certainly help. Organisations need to build expertise in areas like data bias, ethics of AI and model explainability, and make sure they have the right collaboration platform in place – such as Red Hat OpenShift AI – so that diversely experienced teams can connect with each other across the business to understand the wide-reaching potential and impact of AI creations. This range of expertise is vital to achieve transparency and accountability for outcomes to ensure they are as fair as possible and deliver against business goals. Companies that actively engage in the open source community to share best practices and collaborate on ethical AI standards can gain a competitive edge in this evolving landscape.”


Censuswide surveyed 300 18+ UK IT Managers (and variations of the same job title) in companies with at least 500 employees. The research was sponsored by Red Hat. The data was collected between 10.10.2023 – 16.10.2023. Censuswide abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society and follows the MRS code of conduct which is based on the ESOMAR principles.

Survey Definitions:

Enterprise open source software is open source software that is supported by a vendor, usually via a subscription fee. For example, the vendor stabilises and quality-assures the software, certifies it works with an ecosystem of hardware and software, secures it and provides technical support.

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