In the highly competitive and skilled corporate IT world, continuous technical training has always been an important part of career development. The recent large-scale shift to remote work combined with the continued democratization of learning platforms has enabled an entire generation to find the training they need online anytime, anywhere.
From training the lucky few in the company to a distributed world with self-taught developers and engineers, what does this fundamental shift mean for the skills needed for business and IT employees to succeed?
To answer this question, I interviewed Don Gannon-Jones, the software developer skills supervisor of Pluralsight, a technical training platform. We talked about the evolving use of the platform, how the pandemic affects attitudes towards training, and how companies can become the core of their business and IT strategy through continuous training and become a “learning company.”
Jon Collins: Hi Tang, thank you for joining me today. What is the biggest change you noticed on the Pluralsight platform, and how have individuals and companies used it in the past year?
Don Gannon-Jones: It’s interesting. The pandemic has gone through this very strange cycle, which is predictable in retrospect. Many people have serious work insecurity, so they either need to learn a new skill, or we see many people want to improve their skills.
If there is a takeaway, it is that many people know that your job is just your job, and your career must be all-encompassing. It is up to you to ensure that your career path meets the requirements, especially in terms of technology, so when you need a new job, your career is ready to welcome you.
The second thing I noticed is that many companies are experiencing the enterprise version of the same thing. It goes like this, “We have been doing things this way, and suddenly some of the key things in our world are no longer fused together, and we are not ready for it.” Their training is not up to date, so the company There is a great need to increase the size of the team.
Some companies told us, “We need to double down on technology and bring in a large number of skilled people in agile development. Their skills are much wider. It’s not just Java and C#. We need a wider range of internal skills. “But they were unprepared.
That’s because the market is not ready to give them suitable candidates. We have started to see a lot of insourcing and more apprenticeships. We see companies bringing in talent from non-technical aspects of the company, such as business analysts and project managers. These roles may be adjacent to technology. Therefore, the company is teaching them to become software developers, system engineers, architects, etc., because there are no people with the right skills.
Jon Collins: Which parts are accelerated? Is it agile, project management, or deep engineering that people lack?
In our industry, the attitude towards certification tends to be a “roller coaster.” Organize care first. Then they don’t care. The demand for cloud certification has surged, which is unfortunate because I think that every time we go through one of these “certification explosion” cycles, we tend to regret it three or four years later.
Employers began to look for certification as the minimum standard of competence, which became an obstacle. It became a checkbox on the job posting, so the whole world went out and started studying hard to get certification. Then we realized that the minimum standards were not so high at the beginning, and we regretted trying so hard to obtain certification. This is where we are now. Everyone wants to know about Azure, Google Cloud and AWS. These are almost bets.
We have seen an incredible trend within the company, forcing people to improve their skills so that they can take advantage of the cloud technology they need.
Jon Collins: One thing I have learned over the decades is how much IT is run by non-technical drivers. One is the quarterly sales cycle, and the other is the resume. Here, we have a vacation plan. Many people are laid off part-time or at full pay. This is a good time for them to think “Let me look at my resume and start from scratch” so that I can find another job.
Don Gannon-Jones: For people with personal ambitions and self-drive, this is indeed a good time. We are seeing more and more people participate in basic learning paths in all languages through entry-level certification. Obviously, this is what they are for-people who are just starting out. We also see people jumping from adjacent industries to the core area of technology, because I think there will be more jobs in that area. Technology is one of the easiest types of work to be done remotely. It’s not just Americans. Its people are all over Africa, South America and other places. If you have the Internet, you can work.
Another interesting part is diversity, which has to do with insourcing. We are beginning to see that some companies may often express a strong commitment to diversity, especially among their skilled workers, but they have been working hard to achieve this goal. If you don’t get diverse candidates, then you will not be able to achieve your diversity goals. When everyone is still hiring skills, they just say: “Well, we have done our best, and we will continue to work hard to do better.”
Now we see that these in-sourcing programs are beginning to succeed. They are very difficult to set up, risky, and require a lot of management. But when they work, their work is very good. The result is that they have to recruit, knowing that they are capable of training anyone. We see that some companies have enough confidence in their ability to develop skills, and they are hiring things they cannot cultivate, including diversity.
Jon Collins: This is fascinating. I firmly believe that it takes diversity of ideas to innovate, which means diversity of people. This also means that you don’t have to hire skills, but other abilities, including learning abilities.
Don Gannon-Jones: Indeed it is. A popular saying in the past few years is, “Every company is now a technology company, whether they like it or not.” I think this is an inevitable result, that is, every technology company needs to become a learning company. You need to be a skills company.
In the long run, the only way you can survive, and the only way you can get everything you need, is if you can reduce your dependence on the job market and bring you the skills the company needs. You must be able to control these skills. Once you do this, you can have any technology you want. You can have anything you want in the workforce.
It can be local. It can be remote. It can be diverse. If you can confidently bring your skill level to where you need it, you can accomplish all of these things. I think that many technology and business leaders are beginning to see that learning is not “worth having.” This is not an employee benefit. This is a core competency, as important as accounting, operations, or any other part of the business.
Jon Collins: Don, thank you very much!
Don Gannon-Jones: my honor.