Organizations already struggled to keep pace with large-scale shifts in workplace automation, machine learning, and advanced analytics before the pandemic (hence the steady increase in coding bootcamps and other IT training program solutions between 2018 and today). As the COVID-19 dust settles on corporate America, recent research by McKinsey & Company found that the gap in economic profit between the top corporate performers and everyone else “has widened dramatically”.
The pandemic amplified the urgency for digital transformation. Those already ahead of the technology curve were propelled forward. Those behind floundered (and continue to tread water) in the wake of disruption. Technology is the single most significant factor widening the competitive gap. Which means the pressure is on for corporate leaders to develop and enhance their IT training program. However, increasing the learning and development budget for IT skills will not guarantee that your investment pays dividends in acquired skills or accelerated digital transformation efforts.
4 Trends Impacting Investments In Corporate IT Training
1. The Scarcity of In-Demand IT Skills
In-demand IT skills are impossible to acquire at scale in the open labor market. The shortage is due, in part, to the speed of change in technology. Traditional education models can’t keep up, and, as a result, skills have fallen behind. Like dropping a breadcrumb into a piranha-filled pool, competing for talent with in-demand IT skills has quickly become a feeding frenzy that favors the largest companies with the most to offer. Consequently, organizations have little choice but to invest considerably more in learning and development for IT skills to cultivate talent from within.
2. Greater Emphasis on Mentor & Peer Collaboration
One of the biggest challenges with modern technical tools and techniques is that there is no one right answer. An online guide or video might showcase one or two ways to approach a problem, but placing solutions within the context of the problem, recognizing and evaluating various approaches, and taking a reasoned, data-driven approach is not something that any piece of static content can provide. To address this issue, organizations are rethinking how programs incorporate regular feedback, structured discussions, and information-sharing to enhance curricula, accelerate learning, and improve outcomes.
Thanks to the pandemic, companies are becoming more comfortable working virtually. The most forward-thinking organizations will parlay this growing level of comfort into new learning opportunities that allow individuals from across the globe to participate in knowledge sharing and expand the program feedback-refinement continuum. Knowledge sharing gains tremendous reach when aligned with existing collaboration platforms such as Zoom, Slack, and Microsoft Teams. However, keep in mind that success will hinge on your organization’s ability to structure and moderate these touchpoints effectively.
3. Greater Program Design Flexibility
Most IT training program solutions struggle to align content and learning opportunities with the specific platforms, processes, and tools within an organization. To be fair, the vast selection of solutions available in the marketplace means that very few infrastructures are exactly alike—for example, many organizations implement analytical dashboards, which require the baseline skills of data analysis and SQL, while others use Microsoft Power BI, Tableau, Qlik, and other platforms to expand analytical capabilities.
To address variability between organizations, the most progressive IT training program providers are taking a modular approach to content that enables program designers to quickly swap out specific content, tools, and techniques to match the client environment as it changes over time.
4. Connected Pathways For Curriculum Versatility
As competition globalizes and intensifies, the demand for versatile solutions that can be tailored to address multiple challenges will continue to increase. Organizing content into connected pathways is the key to making it more utilitarian (i.e., providing both reskill and upskill opportunities to incumbent workers). For example, a pathway that begins with data literacy (a broad offering that makes sense for most professionals in an organization) followed by progressively more technical capabilities in reporting, analytics, data cleansing/ETL, and machine learning.
Design For What Is and What Has Yet to Be.
When it comes to technology and digital transformation, we can say one thing with absolute certainty. Change is inevitable. If your organization wishes to convert the resulting disruption into opportunities that propel the business forward, operations must shift from a reactive state to one that’s more proactive. Our advice?
- Start by aligning IT skills with strategic business priorities.
- Map data skills to current and future roles within the company.
- Enhance career advancement opportunities to close your own IT skills gap by helping employees grow into new and existing IT roles within the company.
Offering a dynamic and versatile IT training program with the flexibility to grow and scale alongside the business will deliver on all of the above. But beware, not all program solutions are created equal. Most providers tout that their solution delivers results. Rather than take them at their word, always ask for proof.