It’s a tough truth to swallow, but over the next 10 years, many jobs are projected to go the way of the Dodo. Assembly line workers are being replaced by robotics. Retail cashiers are being replaced by contactless payment platforms. Even sports referees are getting benched by advanced Video Assistant Referee (VAR) Systems. However, disappearing roles do not mean disappearing jobs.

Rest assured, the age of technological unemployment is as far-fetched as humanity finding itself trapped in a simulated reality created by AI humanoids. That said, talent leaders are bracing themselves for a new generation of careers coined the “jobs of the future”, and with them, an urgent new call to action for organizations to modernize training and employee development programs.

Why IT Training & Employee Development Needs to Evolve

Uniquely human skills are what give innovative technology power and purpose. While assembly line workers might be replaced by smart machines, skilled technicians will still be needed to configure, monitor, and maintain them. In other words, the greatest challenge organizations will face over the next decade isn’t job creation; it’s talent creation. 

From Technology designers and programers to data scientists and computer system analysts, the jobs of the future require advanced IT skills, which brings us to the abominable talent shortage. If talent leaders are waiting for higher education to save the day — don’t.

he biggest problem with IT training today is the lack of agility. Curricula cannot keep up with rapid changes in technology. By the time graduates enter the workforce, new IT skill demands have already emerged, reducing the value of the coveted college degree. Until universities find a way to adapt courses more quickly and restore the value of higher education, it’s up to employers to shoulder the responsibility of creating the next generation of skilled talent through corporate training and employee development.

What Does “Modern” IT Skills Training Look Like?

Contrary to popular belief, it is entirely possible to deploy your own corporate training programs for IT upskilling or reskilling. The key is finding a progressive educational partner that solves the shortcomings of higher education. More specifically, the three A’s:

  • Adaptability
  • Affordability
  • Accessibility

When vetting your options, use the following qualifiers to narrow your search:

 

1. Personalized Curriculum Development

“Off-the-shelf” educational solutions cannot deliver the same learning outcomes as a curriculum that is customized to meet the exact specifications of your technical environment and current employee skill sets.

 

 

2. Flexible Ownership

Affordability should not require that organizations lower their standards. A world-class IT training partner builds value into their service delivery model, including options to license, own, or lease-to-own for cost-control balance.

 

 

3. Instructor Onboarding & Mentorship

As curriculum development becomes more adaptive, education systems will need to rethink how instructors are supported and assessed. Look for a partner with performance management services and on-staff subject matter experts that can train and support instructors.

 

 

4. Speed & Adaptability

The biggest difference between traditional and modern IT training programs is content construction. The most advanced instructional design teams build programs using a dynamic framework that facilitates rapid updates, pilots, and deployments.

 

 

5. Single-Source, Full-Scale Support

Managing a myriad of outsourced educational service providers increases risk and results in slow, clunky, development processes that can make programs less agile. Single-source providers will have all the resources needed to execute a world-class learning experience, including:

  • Subject matter experts
  • Experienced educators
  • Instructional designers
  • Program administrators
  • Technical writers
  • Professional editors
  • Video producers
  • Graphic designers
  • Full-scale support team

Most importantly, make sure that the training and employee development program your organization puts into place aligns with and supports the construct of strategic career pathways that will take your business and your employees to the proverbial “next level”.

Find out how our proven process for curriculum development balances cost, control, and agility to reduce cost per student by 45% and time-to-market by 50%.

Download the Case Study

Data science involves the use of complex algorithms to extract, organize, and synthesize big data for the purpose of answering difficult questions and driving intricate strategies. With the right data science skills in place, your organization can leverage numerous competitive advantages, including:

  • Better, faster decision-making capabilities
  • Real-time trend tracking
  • Greater operational visibility
  • Process improvement and increased efficiency
  • Improved risk management
  • Better customer experiences
  • The ability to identify and act on opportunities
  • Predictive and proactive business (versus reactive)

To harness the power of data science, you need data scientists. Data scientists have the skills needed to build those complex algorithms and communicate with machines (or a network of machines). They also know how to convert big data into actionable information that non-technical people can understand and utilize. 

Essential IT Skills For Data Science

Data scientists are a hot commodity in today’s job market, which makes them exceedingly difficult to hire externally. Fortunately, many organizations have a population of employees that make excellent candidates for data science skills training through corporate upskilling and reskilling programs. Begin your search by looking for existing skills within your workforce that are adjacent to the IT skills you need. For example, digital marketing professionals with social listening skills can advance their sentiment analysis skills and parlay them into natural language processing, machine learning, topic modeling, and more. Here are the most in-demand IT skills employees will need to develop to fill data science roles within your organization:

The Foundational Trio:

 

HTML

For: Creating/authoring website pages (text, images, links, etc.).

HyperText Markup Language (HTML) is a core web language that defines how web content should be structured, including text, headers, links, bullet points, and more. As such, it’s a must-know skill for basic web development. 

CSS

For: Styling HTML elements (e.g. text color, text placement, etc.).

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is a stylesheet language. Similar to (and used in conjunction with) HTML, CSS is also considered a core web language but, instead of defining web structure, CSS defines web style and determines how web elements will be rendered for appearance. 

JavaScript

For: Implementing dynamic web page elements (e.g., interactive maps, 2D/3D graphics, scrolling features, etc.).

JavaScript is a programming language that is more difficult to learn compared to HTML and CSS because it’s used to build functions that are more complex and interactive compared to structure and style elements. As such, it is recommended that learners first acquire a working knowledge of other basic programming skills, such as HTML and CSS, before attempting to learn JavaScript.

Other In-Demand IT Skills

 

Python Coding

For: Data analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning applications.

Python is an easy-to-learn “general purpose” coding language, which means it can be used for programming and software beyond web development. Thanks to its learnability, this coding language is quickly becoming the focus of many corporate training and employee development programs for upskilling and reskilling workforces. This highly versatile IT skill is also on track to become one of the most popular coding languages — right up there with JavaScript. In particular, Python coding is well suited for beginners in computer programming, web and mobile app developers, software engineers, and —  you guessed it —  data science learners.

SQL/Database Coding

For: Storing, managing, and utilizing databases.

Structured Query Language (SQL) is a database programming language that allows data scientists to communicate, work with, and manage the storage of massive quantities of data generated by web and mobile applications. IT professionals encounter SQL coding just about anywhere that involves significant amounts of data, including banking applications and payment processors, media streaming applications that store vast personalized music or video libraries, and social media applications that store millions of user profiles.

R Programming

For: Statistics, data visualization, data analytics, and machine learning.

R programming is a flexible coding language that bridges the gap between data analysis and software development. In fact, this programming language was specifically designed for data scientists to help solve virtually any problem they might encounter. As such, it also happens to be one of the most popular analytics tools used in business. 

C# and .NET

For: Desktop and web application development, machine learning, data mining.  

C# (pronounced “c sharp”) is another general-purpose programming language created by Microsoft to provide a simpler, more flexible alternative to Java and C++ programming languages. The “.NET” refers to the framework on which the C# language is built. C# is more commonly used for Microsoft applications and professional desktop applications but has also gained popularity in game development.  

 

How Businesses Use Data Science Skills

  1. Recommendation Systems

Recommendation systems can be deployed as a lead generator, conversion tool, or full-scale user experience. These systems collect data about a user to filter out options and curate a recommended list of products, information, or media. For example, matching new or existing customers with a specific solution or service. 

  1. Dynamic Pricing

Dynamic pricing models can be created by data scientists to set and manage rates based on real-time supply and demand, competitor pricing, and other factors that routinely impact business. For example, incorporating surge pricing on a ride-sharing application during peak commuter timeframes. 

  1. Fraud Detection

Financial applications, such as mobile banking apps and online payment processing, use complex data lookups and decision algorithms (created by data scientists) to validate loan applications, payments, and other web-based financial activities.

  1. Digital Marketing

Advertising agencies use data science and algorithms to target new and existing leads by serving up personalized ads based on user behavior, demographic information, buying history, and more. 

  1. Delivery Logistics 

Companies like FedEx and UPS leverage data science to improve operational efficiency. More specifically, their data scientists use complex data tracking and analytics to determine the best route, time, cost, and mode of transportation for delivering packages based on numerous external factors, including fuel and energy prices, traffic demand, and more.

Designing and implementing a corporate training and employee development program for upskilling and reskilling your workforce is one of the most affordable solutions to the data science skills gap. The key to minimizing risk is to work with an IT skills education expert that has the experience, resources, delivery model, and technical support to deliver tangible business outcomes.

Assess your current IT skill levels for data science learning with help from one of the most experienced curriculum development companies in the country. We make upskilling and reskilling for data science easy and affordable. Let’s Talk!

Most organizations today face a shortage of IT skills that are critical to digital transformation and business growth. That means most organizations are also actively searching for the most cost-effective solution to shore up on skills and capitalize on adapting faster than competitors. In pursuit of this endeavor, leaders have two basic options:

  1. Hire external talent and buy the IT skills they need.
  2. Develop internal training capabilities to cultivate skills from within. 

Which is more affordable? Hands down, the answer is developing internal training and employee development programs. How much more affordable? Hundreds of thousands of dollars less expensive, depending on the skill demand. Job openings currently outnumber available talent, forcing organizations to compete on a global scale for a handful of critical roles. This, in addition to existing new-hire challenges (such as onboarding and new-hire productivity), can lead to higher recruiting costs and compensation packages, not to mention the time and resources required to onboard and train new employees. Let’s do the math:

The High Cost Of Hiring

According to Zenefits

  • Recruiting: costs about $4,129 per new hire.
  • Training: costs average $1,286 per employee.
  • Employee Benefits: cost between $10.58 and $19.82 per hour, per employee.

Totaled, these hiring costs quickly amount to 1.25x to 1.4x the actual cost of a new hire’s base salary. To put that into perspective, let’s say your organization needs ten people to work on a data project. 

The average base salary for a data scientist is about $100,000, plus the cost of recruiting, training, and benefits, which equates to as much as $140,000 per new hire. 

$140,000 per new hire x 10 new hires = $1.4M

Tally The Cost of Turnover

Beyond the cost of hiring and onboarding a new hire, organizations must also consider the cost of an employee not working out. According to Psychology Today, 33% of new employees quit within 90 days of hire. And when they do, organizations can expect to lose 50% of an employee’s salary

Referring back to our example, let’s say three out of the ten new hires do not work out. The organization is looking at more than $210,000 in losses, in addition to the $1.4M already spent in an attempt to close the skills gap.

The More Affordable Option: Training & Employee Development Programs

Employees want training and development opportunities that allow them to learn new skills, increase their marketability, and advance in their careers. By investing in employee training and development programs, organizations can cultivate technical skills faster than it would take to complete the recruiting, hiring, and onboarding cycle, plus they keep historical knowledge in-house and prevent turnover by creating a career pathway for employees. 

The key to maximizing your investment is having the right program development partnership. Here’s what to look for:

1. Breadth of Professional Services

Training and employee development programs, especially those designed to teach data science and other technical skills, have a lot of moving parts. Hiring a full-scale team of instructional designers, technical writers, software developers, and subject matter experts will undoubtedly rival the cost of hiring skilled IT professionals. However, managing numerous vendor relationships can also result in higher costs and a slower pace of progress.

Simplify how you develop curriculum and deploy programs by seeking a single-source partnership that offers all the connections, resources, and professional services you’ll need to deploy a world-class learning experience. Baseline, your educational partner should offer:

  • Curriculum Development
  • Program Design
  • Instructor Onboarding
  • Program Administration
  • Learner Assessment
  • Ongoing Maintenance
  • Full-Scale Support

2. Outcomes-First Program Design

Bootcamp-style programs for IT skills training and employee development are an attractive solution to the talent shortage. Like many solutions, these programs help organizations balance cost with quality learning. However, they often lack the level of customization needed to deliver intentional, measurable outcomes.

The most progressive IT skills training solutions take an outcomes-first approach to program and curriculum development. This means conducting a thorough assessment of your organization’s current IT skills and identifying gaps based on specific business objectives. With a thorough understanding of what your corporation hopes to accomplish, design and development experts reverse-engineer a training program that begins with the current IT skill levels and ends with the technical capabilities needed to execute specific business strategies and operations. 

3. Curriculum Flexibility 

One of the greatest challenges educators face in the 21st century is keeping up with the speed of change in technology. Higher education institutions and other training solutions simply cannot produce curricula fast enough to teach emerging technical skills, and certainly cannot deliver the level of agility needed without also increasing the cost to produce and execute programs. For organizational leaders, this makes it almost impossible to realize the full ROI potential of training and employee development investments. 

To ensure that training continuously meets emerging demands, partner with an IT curriculum and program developer that builds flexibility into their core delivery process. For example, creating a curriculum using a modular approach that anticipates content updates, changes, and new curriculum development as trends change over time. 

The Future of Training & Employee Development

Rather than looking at training & employee development programs as an expense, corporate leaders need to look at them as an investment with massive return potential. To that end, your ability to maximize ROI will depend on partnering with proven experts in designing educational experiences that deliver measurable results. 

Find out how we helped an IT staffing and technology firm deploy training and employee development programs 2x faster and decrease overall program costs by 47%. 

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As the pace of change in IT skills demand continues to accelerate, sophisticated software and technical knowledge will also continue to advance into traditionally “non-IT” roles. This “migration” of IT skills creates a number of challenges for organizations and IT directors alike.

First, technical literacy has become a roadblock for digital transformation initiatives. Organizations increasingly realize that their heavy investment in data analytics, cloud computing, and other modern technology does not provide the anticipated ROI if “non-IT” parts of the business do not understand how data can be leveraged to drive efficiency and innovation.

Second, organizations lack the ability to identify which technical skills are most in-demand in the organization, distill their list of in-demand skills into measurable learning outcomes, and introduce skills to employees in a way that satisfies prerequisite knowledge.

Our advice? In the spirit of playoff season, IT directors and Learning Experience and Design (LXD) teams should take a page from the NHL playbook and “skate where the puck is going”. Here are the top 5 in-demand IT skills we’ve detected through industry data and first-hand observation:

1. Data Literacy

Decades ago, it was possible to walk into a business with weak “computer literacy” and learn on the job. Today, you would be rejected out of hand without a working knowledge of computer programs and software. With more and more non-IT job postings incorporating words like data and analytics, it’s only a matter of time before data literacy becomes as commonplace as computer literacy.

As businesses continue to collect and query more data, employees must be capable of working effectively with that data and the IT team to turn information into decisive action. Data literacy is the ability to read, understand, create, and communicate data as information. From employees who are involved in collecting or entering data to those who need to leverage data to make decisions in both real-time operations and forward-looking strategy, data literacy is for all levels of the organization. To determine where your organization stands on the data literacy scale, ask yourself:

  • How many people in the organization are familiar enough with statistics and bias to create and improve data processes?
  • How many leaders can effectively create business cases with accurate and relevant data?
  • How many employees can accurately explain the inputs and outputs of their systems or processes and how they relate to adjacent processes?
  • How many employees understand what the possibilities are with advanced data analytics, machine learning, and AI so that they can more effectively collaborate with technical data professionals in the organization?

If you frequently answer “not many”, it’s time to start thinking about IT upskilling to improve data literacy rates.

2. Data Analytics

Data Analysis, Structured Query Language (SQL), and Statistics are among the most in-demand IT skills in the country. Over the last 12 months, these skills have accounted for over 500,000 job postings (Burning Glass), and projected growth is 21.5% over the next decade. Not only are skilled professionals difficult to find, but many organizations are structuring their operations such that IT collects and stores the data while other business sectors are responsible for analyzing the data. This means that building dashboards and writing queries and transformations is moving downstream from IT to business units like marketing, finance, and operations. Because many of these employees lack a technical background, it’s important to first lay a foundation of general data skills that can be leveraged towards specific tools such as Tableau, PowerBI, and Qlik.

3. Data Engineering & Machine Learning

When it comes to data engineering and machine learning, Extract-Transform-Load (ETL) is the name of the game. The vast amounts of data organizations are collecting from internal and external sources need to be collected, cleansed, and stored on a variety of platforms. Being able to work with things like document (NoSQL) databases, relational databases, APIs, and other sources with languages and tools such as Python and Data Bricks is a key technical capability for organizations that are serious about digital transformation.

Once all the data is collected, the next step is to start mining the data for insights to help your organization deliver more relevant, timely, personalized, and innovative products and services.

4. Cloud Computing

Everything is (and has been for some time) moving to the cloud. Many companies do not host any of their own infrastructures. The demand for talent with the skills to design and implement applications and processes on cloud systems like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) is on the rise. The good news?  With a small investment of time and effort in IT upskilling, existing developers can transition into cloud skills. The bad news? Certifications put a bullseye on your employees’ backs for competing recruiters to target.

5. Full Stack Development

Back when I started the Software Guild in 2013, I used to have prospective learners ask about OO languages like Java and C# and whether they would still be in demand when the new shiny was a platform called Ruby on Rails. My response was to chuckle and state that Java and C# are the COBOL of our time. (COBOL developers are still in demand and being paid high wages due to lack of labor supply).

Today, the developer shortage continues, and (as I assured my students) companies are not moving away from millions of dollars in time, effort, and human capital that built the systems that run their businesses today. The demand now is keeping those developers up to date on the latest and greatest such as Java 9, .NET Core, and modern JavaScript (Node, Angular, React, etc.)

The Truth of IT

All organizations across every industry must learn to accept and embrace two unavoidable truths:

  1. Change is accelerating, which necessitates continuous learning and development.
  2. There simply is not enough available labor to fill all positions from outside the organization.

In other words, if your organization is to stay at the top of its game by acquiring in-demand IT skills, it needs to look within for promising candidates that satisfy prerequisite knowledge and develop a skills training program for IT upskilling and reskilling existing talent.

If you are interested in running learning programs that check all the boxes of quality, outcomes, and hands-on assessments, let’s talk about IT. Get In touch with a member of our team

Earlier this month, we published part one of a two-part series focusing on women in technology. In it, we discussed the alarming underrepresentation of women in STEM careers, including a deeper look at what factors might be contributing to the gender gap. In part two of this series, we address another gap in the IT world—the talent gap—and explore how IT upskilling programs that embrace diversity and inclusion could be the proverbial one-stone-two-bird power play that your organization needs to eliminate disparity on both fronts and increase profitability. 

The Business Case For Diversity, Inclusion & IT Upskilling

Diversity & Inclusion Increases Revenue

Not only are companies that exemplify diversity and inclusion better positioned to attract new talent, but they also cast a larger net in an otherwise overfished talent pool and end up with workforces that reflect a broader spectrum of perspectives, ideas, and thought processes—the likes of which almost always outperform groups that are more homogenous. 

According to the McKinsey & Company Diversity Wins Report 2020, companies with gender, ethnic, and cultural diversity have a “substantial likelihood” of outperforming competitors with less diversity. In fact, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability. However, the report also cautioned that:

“Hiring diverse talent isn’t enough — it’s the workplace experience that shapes whether people remain and thrive.”

The Global Demand For Training Is On The Rise

According to the Global Knowledge 2020 IT Skills and Salary Report, over 80% of North American IT departments have skills gaps. Furthermore, the disparity has increased by 155% over the last three years and isn’t showing signs of slowing down any time soon. As technical skill demands continue to outpace available resources and education, leaders recognize that recruiting externally cannot be the sole strategy for obtaining talent with in-demand IT skills. 

Rather than battle for the same limited supply as everyone else, more organizations are looking inward and investing in corporate training and development programs to upskill employees and create the talent they need to close gaps in IT. In fact, 62% of businesses affected by changes due to COVID-19 are spending more on training in 2021.

Employees Want IT Upskilling Opportunities

Business Wire recently reported on a study revealing that 86% of employees around the globe demand new skills training from their employers. More specifically, 91% of office workers believe their employers should be more willing to invest in digital and technology skills training for their employees. The study attributes the growing desire for IT upskilling to fear of job loss and decreased productivity due to outdated skills. This study also points out the positive influence that IT upskilling opportunities can have on employee recruiting and retention.

The Female Workforce Is An Untapped Market For IT Talent

As of January 2021, women constitute almost half of the US workforce, but only 27% of STEM workers—computer and engineering occupations representing the lowest population of female workers (United States Census Bureau). In other words, a massive percentage of the female workforce has yet to realize their potential in technical roles. However, this is beginning to change. The number of female students studying Computer Science increased by 300% over the last five years. In fact, women were 7x more likely to pursue Computer Science in 2020 compared to 2015. (The Chartered Institute for IT). 

Connecting The Dots

Alignment between diversity and inclusion initiatives and IT upskilling programs can help close the IT skills gap, eliminate disparity, increase profitability, and significantly increase the likelihood of your organization outperforming competitors. 

However, even if organizations successfully recruit and train more women into IT roles, the fact remains—half of the women who go into tech leave by the time they are 35 years old (TechRepublic). In other words, without an overarching employee experience that focuses on training and retaining female employees—none of the above matters. To that end, we’ll leave you with two important pieces of parting advice:

1. Use IT Upskilling as Opportunity for Career Advancement

73% of women admit that they considered leaving their tech careers, and 20% of women actually did leave the tech space due to lack of opportunity for career advancement. IT upskilling opportunities that incorporate diversity and inclusion initiatives can increase female participation and improve female retention rates in tech-related fields by creating pathways for career advancement. 

2. Focus on Benefits That Improve Work-Life Balance

22% of women leave their careers in IT due to a lack of work-life balance (TechRepublic). Companies that invest in benefits that prioritize the unique challenges of specific employee populations see 5.5x more revenue growth, which they attribute to greater innovation, higher talent retention, and increased productivity. As discussed in part one of this series, balancing the demands of parenthood and a career in technology can be particularly challenging for women. As such, benefits such as paid leave, work flexibility, and remote IT learning opportunities should move higher up on HR’s list of employee experience priorities. 

We get it—creating a corporate IT learning environment that achieves tangible business outcomes on multiple fronts isn’t easy. In addition to involving the company’s diversity and inclusion task force, use this Essential IT Skills Training Program Planner to help identify program needs, set financial expectations, and create an IT roadmap for the future.