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Upskilling in Tech: How to Do It with 4 Key Strategies

by iSphere on March 14, 2024 in Blog, Business Advice, Hiring Challenges

Managing a tech team can often feel like running on a treadmill cranked up to max speed. Innovation is relentless, and just when you think you’ve caught up, there’s a new software, tool, or fad everyone’s drooling over. And here’s the real kicker: the pool of fresh tech talent isn’t expanding fast enough to keep up with the pace of innovation.

According to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Job openings for software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers are projected to grow by 25% year over year from 2022 to 2032.
  • The information security analysts occupation, which is projected to grow 31.5% between 2022 and 2032, is the fifth fastest growing job in the economy.

Worse still, even the seasoned pros can find themselves blindsided by the next big thing. The reality is, you can’t just keep throwing new hires at the problem, hoping to plug the gaps in your team.

So, what’s the solution? Investing in an upskilling strategy to bridge the gap between what your team members know and what they need to know.

For over 30 years, iSphere has been knee-deep in the technology hiring market across multiple industries; we’ve got a clear view of what works and what doesn’t. For those times when you do need to bring in specialized talent, we’re here to help. But don’t overlook the potential of your current team.

Let’s talk about how to start upskilling your employees—and how working with an IT staffing partner like iSphere can help.

How to Approach Upskilling

Exploring Upskilling Options

As with most things in life, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to upskilling. Fortunately, the avenues for your team’s growth are vast.

Certifications can provide a structured path to mastering new skills, with the added bonus of a credential to showcase expertise. Many top universities now offer online certification programs and specialized courses in tech subjects. These programs combine academic rigor with practical applications, making them a good fit for those looking to deepen their expertise.

For example, the University of Texas at Austin offers an online Cloud Computing Professional Certificate program in collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Windows Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). This program equips learners with the skills and knowledge needed to become proficient in cloud computing, a skillset which is instrumental for most companies and is one of this year’s most in-demand technology jobs.

Online courses offer flexibility and a wide range of subjects, catering to almost any skill level and interest area. Websites like Coursera, Udemy, and LinkedIn Learning offer courses in virtually every tech topic under the sun. If you’re struggling to fill crucial programming positions, data science roles, and anything else under the sun, there’s likely a program available to help patch any holes in your team.

Intensive, immersive learning experiences like those offered by General Assembly or Flatiron School for software engineering can fast-track your team’s proficiency in specific tech areas. Many “tech bootcamps” like these also offer corporate training programs, tailoring their curriculum to meet the specific upskilling needs of your business.

Upskilling Employees to Work with New Technologies

As technologies like Cloud Application Services (SaaS), AI (Artificial Intelligence), ML (Machine Learning), and NLP (Natural Language Processing) advance, upskilling becomes essential.

Take cloud for example. According to the latest forecast from Gartner, end-user spending on public cloud services is forecast to grow 20.4% to total $678.8 billion in 2024, up from $563.6 billion in 2023. Cloud is no longer solely driving business outcomes, but rather business needs are shaping cloud models. This shift requires a diverse range of skills beyond core cloud technologies, from developers and architects to security professionals and business analysts.

In general, the dynamic nature of the tech industry demands adaptability. Dive into new technologies as the appear—and they will—by identifying relevant use cases within your projects or operations. Give your employees the chance to experiment with these tools, either through direct application in projects or sandbox environments where they can tinker without the pressure of immediate results.

The Importance of Practical Experience and Project-Based Learning

While theory is a great foundation, the real magic happens when knowledge is applied. Encourage your team to use what they’ve learned in real-world scenarios, whether that’s through internal initiatives, contributions to open-source projects, or even hackathons. This way, you’ll not only reinforce their learning but also boost their confidence as team members see the tangible impact of their new skills.

Our recent partnership with Lamar Consolidated Independent School District (CISD) is a great example of this. Lamar CISD’s limited IT staff struggled to support the needs of their rapidly expanding student body. Together with iSphere, Lamar CISD implemented an innovative approach: hiring and upskilling students and alumni from the district’s own career and technology programs to provide on-campus tech support.

Students handled routine tasks like device maintenance and user support, freeing up experienced IT staff for more strategic initiatives and complex technical issues. More importantly, Lamar CISD created a long-term talent solution by equipping students with valuable technical skills and real-world experience through on-the-job training and career coaching.

Not only did this strategy address the district’s immediate need for IT support, but it also fostered a sustainable talent pipeline for future technological needs.

Incorporating Learning into Your Team’s Work Schedules

The key to effective upskilling is seamlessly integrating learning opportunities into daily workflows. Consider setting aside dedicated “learning hours” each week or incorporating learning objectives into project timelines.

And if you’re searching for a business case for upskilling, here it is. According to LinkedIn’s 2023 Workplace Learning Report, three of the top five factors that people consider when pursuing new jobs reflect their desire to stretch, grow, and develop new skills. Your investment in upskilling will make your organization more attractive to both your current employees and potential new hires.

iSphere’s Role in Your Upskilling Journey

iSphere exists to bridge the gap between today’s technology skills and tomorrow’s victories. We excel in identifying the gaps—not just in skills, but between where you are and where you aim to be.

For candidates, this means personalized advice on career paths and upskilling opportunities that can catapult them into their desired roles. For clients, we delve into the specifics of your business needs, proposing upskilling strategies that not only elevate your team’s capabilities but also align with your broader business objectives. Together, we’ll help you set the pace, so it doesn’t feel like your IT capabilities are stuck running in place.

Technological innovation waits for no one. Reach out to iSphere and take the first step towards a future where your team leads with knowledge and confidence.

 

 

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