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As IT skill gaps continue to widen, learning and development for IT upskilling has become a pivotal component of digital transformation initiatives.

IT leaders continue to face a difficult conundrum. Technology roadmaps are increasingly ambitious to keep up with the rising demand for data science, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning. However, without enough tech-skilled talent to fill advanced new roles, many organizations have reached a digital transformation plateau.

  • Leaders lack consensus about the direction of digital transformation.
  • Technology roadmaps are without a process for execution.
  • Metrics for measuring progress have yet to be defined.
  • Work styles and culture lag evolving operations.

The demand for tech-skilled talent has far from reached its peak and recruiting and hiring efforts can only do so much. Eventually, all organizations will need to find alternative ways to close IT skill gaps. This is where learning and development (L&D) teams will shine.

One of the best ways to obtain technical talent while reducing time to productivity is to cultivate it from within. In fact, IT upskilling and reskilling employees for career advancement opportunities can offer benefits that go far beyond digital transformation, such as:

  • Increased employee retention
  • Greater company morale
  • Better recruiting leverage
  • Stronger company culture
  • Less employee attrition

Here’s how to ensure that your L&D program for IT upskilling has what it takes support ongoing digital transformation efforts and drive mission-critical advances within your organization.

1. Use Preliminary Research to Set Benchmarks for Success

Every organization has different technical demands. Every learning environment has different needs. Self-paced online learning platforms do not take any unique qualities or learner preferences into account — and this is a problem. Without studying the learning environment, identifying IT skill gaps, or aligning program outcomes with current business priorities, these solutions result in a lack of foundational understanding and benchmarking needed to measure performance, much less define what constitutes success.

Conversely, a proper research and discovery phase prior to program design and development will ensure that your organization has a complete and thorough understanding of its IT training needs and challenges. This preliminary research will also help to ensure that IT leaders agree on a clear direction forward.

2. Make IT Curriculum Flexible & Adaptable

The time and cost to develop a body of content as expansive and complex as an IT curriculum are significant, making it extremely difficult for many TechEd providers to balance speed-to-market with cost. As a result, L&D program administrators either struggle to offer (and develop) the latest IT skills or pay the price for doing so.

This article does a deep dive into the factors driving high IT training costs.

Rather than structuring an IT curriculum as one large content asset and formatting coursework in stone, the most progressive instructional design teams break a curriculum down into modules that can be assembled, updated, and reconfigured without affecting the entire body of content. This modular approach to IT curriculum development ensures access to the latest IT training courses. It also drives operational efficiency by allowing L&D program administrators to tailor-build programs that only train for the skills they need, thereby shortening the duration of the program and reducing overall deployment costs.

In fact, with the right instructional design and delivery, you can reduce overall program costs by almost 50%!

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3. Establish Metrics for Measuring Success

The Kirkpatrick model is among the most widely accepted system for objectively evaluating L&D program efficacy. Coined by Dr. Donald Kirkpatrick in the 1950s, this model breaks program performance down into four training evaluation levels:

Many learning and development solutions offer a degree of performance management but lack the ability to effectively evaluate learning outcomes and business impact — two critical indicators of success. The most effective IT training programs utilize an arsenal of evaluation tools to gauge program performance during and after learners complete the course, including:

  • Learner satisfaction surveys
  • Customized learner assessments
  • Simulated projects built to mimic real-life job scenarios
  • Post-completion follow-up assessments

4. Create a Closed-Loop Framework for Data Analysis

An experienced IT curriculum and instructional design team uses a closed-loop L&D framework akin to a lifecycle to align their program’s delivery model and assessments strategy with your organization‘s IT roadmap, discovery insights, desired learning outcomes, and established metrics for program and learner evaluations. Through customized learner and instructor assessments, feedback collection, and data analysis, education experts can monitor program performance down to the individual learner and proactively support wayward students. More importantly, the data generated by their closed-loop framework can immediately flow back into program administration to continuously improve learning experiences and outcomes in real-time.


Digital Transformation is Not a Destination

IT training is never as straightforward as learning other corporate skills. If L&D programs are to produce job-ready IT skills that can be used right away for digital transformation initiatives, they, too, must evolve. The most innovative processes for IT upskilling resemble a lifecycle, rather than a linear pathway, propelled into rotation by the collection, analysis, and utilization of performance data. This is one of the many ways in which “turn-key” courses for IT upskilling, such as self-paced online learning platforms, fall flat.

As the demand for technical talent continues to hinder digital transformation efforts, those who invest in quality, long-term training solutions will supersede those who opt for less sustainable and intentional solutions. After all, digital transformation is not a destination, it’s an ongoing process. As such, shouldn’t learning and development programs for IT upskilling also operate with long-term goals and success in mind?

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