Why CIOs Need To Take Upskilling Seriously

New IT skills are critical to any business that wants to survive and thrive today.
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Upskilling in the IT space is not a new phenomenon, as new tools and technologies are introduced regularly. However, the rate of change is more rapid now than ever before due to the necessity to drive more and more digitization for businesses to not only thrive but to survive. 

This digitization has resulted in the demand for software engineers who can design and develop solutions far exceeding the supply of talent. So companies are looking at reskilling employees to fill positions that have remained open for so long that the company may be losing market share or becoming obsolete. Individuals with no technology experience who see the spike in demand for software coders and the lucrative opportunities to learn development skills are reskilling. To complete their digitization projects and retain their top talent, organizations are upskilling in the areas of web and mobile development, data analytics, artificial intelligence/machine learning and IoT.

Strategically Evaluate Your IT Talent Needs

Coming out of the pandemic, we see a tsunami of demand for IT talent. That’s why leaders need to begin thinking even more strategically about their IT talent pipeline for the next few years instead of scrambling at the last minute.

Reskilling and upskilling, as strategies, benefit both companies and their workers. On the company side, organizations are seizing these strategies to staff their IT initiatives and retain their top talent. For individuals, many have seen these shifts in technology needs and have successfully used upskilling and reskilling strategies to transform their careers to be more relevant and capture new lucrative opportunities.

A few common examples of upskilling are Java engineers upgrading their skillsets by learning how to develop mobile apps on Android using Java. They go further when they upskill and learn Kotlin, which is a cross-platform language. Another example in the mobile space is iOS developers who need to upskill by learning Swift, as development is moving there from Objective-c. In the web development area, new JavaScript frameworks have emerged, requiring interface engineers who mastered Angular.js to now learn newer frameworks such as React.js or Vue.js.

The Most In-Demand IT Skills

Based on what we see in the software/app development space, the most in-demand skills encompass web and mobile development, data analytics, artificial intelligence/machine learning, IoT, DevOps, cloud computing, solution architecture and technology leadership.  

There is also an urgent need to upskill in the information and cybersecurity space. For example, the recent Colonial Pipeline and JBS ransomware incidents have companies scrambling to make sure they are not the next victim of an attack. It is evident that no company, big or small, is safe from these types of attacks. Thus, organizations are migrating to more advanced cybersecurity techniques, requiring their security teams to learn and upskill continually.    

Worth the Investment

Employee retention is number one. IT professionals know they must continually learn to stay marketable and increase their value and earnings. If they see their skills becoming dated and their employer is not providing the opportunity to upskill, they will look for opportunities elsewhere.

Similarly, for those companies that need to add IT talent to meet their demand for digitization initiatives, they need to demonstrate how they invest in their team members’ ongoing learning and training to attract additional top talent.

Because many technologies/systems become obsolete with time, the most successful organizations will leverage newer/advanced technologies to improve customer experiences, launch a new product offering, drive efficiencies, etc. To do so, they need to upskill and reskill to avoid laying off employees, which makes companies look less attractive to new prospects. The cost of upskilling and reskilling will likely be less than the costs associated with laying off employees and hiring new ones.  

How to Reskill for the Technology Space

In recent years, we have seen the emergence of a number of immersive coding schools and boot camps where non-IT individuals can learn to code in about three months by acquiring the key skills for full-stack web development, data analytics and UX/UI. If you want to become a web developer, the skills you would need to learn include HTML, CSS, JavaScript (React.js, Node.js) and database skills, such as MongoDB and MySQL. For data analytics, you would seek additional Python, ETL and Tableau skills, for example. UX/UI designers need to learn about responsive design, visual prototyping (Adobe XD, InVision, Sketch) and UI development using HTML, CSS and JavaScript.     

Another excellent option for non-IT people wanting to get into technology is to pursue becoming a Salesforce Administrator. Admins focus on ensuring that the Salesforce system is working for its users, and they build custom features and functionality based on an organization’s specific requirements. Becoming a Salesforce Admin does not require someone to learn how to code, so it has a reasonably low “cost of entry.” We would recommend that anyone who has decided to become a Salesforce Admin take the Salesforce Admin Certification to be recognized as a Salesforce Certified Administrator. The exam only costs $200, and it is possible to attain this level in about six weeks with some diligent study and preparation. 

Conclusion

While many compelling reasons exist to adopt upskilling and reskilling strategies into your IT workforce, the first and foremost is employee retention. Companies that want to attract top talent will need to demonstrate how they invest in their employees’ ongoing learning and training. Additionally, a well-articulated upskilling and reskilling strategy can help companies add IT talent and meet the demand for their digitization and technology initiatives.

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