As close as we are to the problem on a daily basis, the IT industry alone cannot solve the skills gap. However, when we team up with or gain the support of influential politicians, that’s when things can start to change for the better.

As I currently live and work in the US, I’m interested in ways the skills gap is being addressed here. I recently came across a story highlighting the need for our industry and elected representatives to work together to develop the IT skills needed for our profession to succeed.

Senior staff at leading technology companies including Microsoft, Google, Twitter and recently wrote to the Governor of California, Jerry Brown, offering to partner with the state to increase computer education in kindergarten and 12th grade schools.

Currently, 90 percent of these schools do not teach computer science. That’s an astonishing fact in the home of the tech industry. Here we see how leading IT companies have identified how a skills gap will hit them hard, as the US-tech industry tries to keep ahead of competitors now and in the future.

I had to admire the fact that industry took the lead here to highlight to politicians that by not tackling the skills gap at source – in this case an education system not for the purpose – there could be economic ramifications in the future.

Of course, the more forward-thinking politician can also come up with a bright idea to tackle the ever-present IT skills shortage. Step forward a former US Secretary of State….

At the recent VentureScape conference in San Francisco, Condoleezza Rice spoke about tapping the human potential that is necessary for our “great march toward a better future.” Rice likened human potential to a country’s resources or its imports and exports, and said that the US has had a better track record at mobilising this potential than any other country in the world.

“Forty percent of the startups in this area have one foreign founder. That says something about the power of attracting the best and brightest. And, I just don’t get it when people want to make immigrants, somehow, the enemy,” Rice said.

When asked about what the specific next steps should be, Rice called for open season on H-1B visas for anyone who wants one. The H-1B visa is one of the standard work visas that employers use to bring workers from other countries to the US for specialty work. Thus type of visa could benefit tech companies looking to bring in the skills needed short and long term to get ahead in the IT industry.

Whether or not the efforts of the tech companies in California or Condoleezza Rice’s view on visa changes helps address the skills gap, at least these are two positive examples of action taking place. We all know that tackling the IT skills problem will take time, effort and resources, but a collaborative approach between politicians and industry leaders highlights that two combined heads are at least better than one. I for one think that’s a good thing.