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Upskilling your team? Here’s what they want to learn

To truly solve your upskilling challenges at work, you need to go beyond just checking the box with a one-size-fits-all solution. Sending everyone to the same conference or signing the whole department up for the same course often feels more like a compromise than a true solution. Technologists want individualized skill development experiences that will move their careers forward in ways that are personally meaningful to them. 

But how do you know what your team actually wants to learn? And how can you feel confident it will also pay off for your organization? With so many diverse skills and experience levels on your team, keeping everyone satisfied can feel like quite the puzzle. Our advice? Make upskilling personal—it’s easier than you might think, and it pays off big time.

What technologists want to learn

We surveyed 1,500 enterprise technology leaders and learners in the US and EMEA to create our 2020 State of Upskilling report. Among other findings we’ll delve into later, we found which areas technologists are most interested in developing their skills.

Technologies employees want to learn

The technologies most of your team is interested in also happen to be some of the technologies that are already boosting bottom lines for organizations around the world.

How the latest technologies are making a difference for leading companies

The gut reaction to letting employees take the lead on skilling up might be, “What if what they’re interested in won’t benefit my organization?” 

First off, this is a good question to ask. It’s important to take employee interests seriously, but not every new technology will work for your company. That said, gauging employee interests is a great opportunity to reevaluate company goals and consider how the technologies they want to learn could achieve those goals in creative ways. Ask yourself, could upskilling on this new technology could help your company achieve its goals more quickly? Or could it possibly open up new revenue opportunities? Or improve existing customer channels? You might be surprised by the possibilities. And giving employees the freedom to solve tough challenges in unexpected and innovative ways will pay dividends for you and them for years to come. 

Here are some examples of how companies today are integrating the technologies employees are most interested in into their day-to-day operations. See if one of them gets the wheels turning for how these technologies could help your organization.

  • Harley-Davidson moved to the forefront of its industry by creating a smart factory that cut its production schedule down from 21 days to a mere 6 hours, all thanks to profound advancements in machine learning, IoT and e-commerce integration. By relying on cutting-edge automation to reduce inefficiencies and streamline production, it’s saved $200 million dollars in operating costs just at one plant alone.

  • IBM uses its artificial intelligence software Watson to help doctors and researchers find correlations in healthcare data that would otherwise take them years and even lifetimes to sort through. This has had innumerable benefits for doctors and the industry, including decreasing mortality rates, diminishing medical costs, accelerating diagnoses and freeing up doctors to spend more time with patients.

  • Ocado, the world’s largest online-only grocery retailer, has used popular technologies to improve its customer service department. Relying on a combination of cloud computing, artificial intelligence and machine learning, it has created a system for customer emails that automatically categorizes them, saving the customer service team thousands of hours of work while still allowing them to provide a “human touch” when serving customers. With more than 500,000 active customers, Ocado uses this solution as a hybrid approach where its team and its technology can work together to engineer feasible solutions for serving a sizable customer base.

Connect your employees to what they want to learn

Effective upskilling is always a hard egg to crack, but thankfully it’s no longer limited to traditional methods. With online course libraries led by subject-matter experts, employees can take charge of their own skill development experience at a pace and method that works best for them. That kind of ownership is hard to duplicate in a classroom or a conference setting without bogging down the experience for everyone. 

Seeking out online technology skill development platforms that offer these capabilities will save your organization time and money. It’s the most efficient way to both raise the collective value of your workforce and keep individual employees satisfied with their career trajectory within your company so they don’t start looking elsewhere. Tech skill development platforms also come in the format employees want: the overwhelming majority of technologists report that their preferred learning method involves online self-paced and instructor-led courses.

Preferred learning method

Technologists want a platform that can be personalized to what they need and that’s taught by experts, and you want your upskilling investment to start making an impact on the business as soon as possible. That’s where skill- and role-based assessments come in. They’ll give you insight into your organization’s collective knowledge base and give employees insight into what they don’t know. From there, it’ll connect your technologists to specific classes taught by leading experts, continuing to evaluate their knowledge gaps as they progress. When assessments like these are built into technology skill development platforms, they can provide the fastest route to upskilling, saving you and your employees from wasting resources on the wrong material.

Keep your employees happy at your organization

Although 94% of technologists report that their companies provide some opportunities to develop their technology skills, 45% report leaving their job because they were concerned about a lack of opportunities for advancement and 36% left because they wanted more challenging work. There’s a disconnect between what employees want to learn and the opportunities their employers are offering them—and companies and their technologists are missing out on big possibilities for growth as a result. 

Just keeping employees satisfied and providing generic upskilling resources isn’t enough. Employees want personalized opportunities for growth and learning. That’s likely why although 73% of technologists are satisfied with their current job, 67% said they’re still open to new opportunities. Creating those new opportunities within your organization through personalized upskilling is a way to not only give employees what they're looking for but also retain your workforce.

Employee job satisfaction

Giving employees the chance to learn what they actually want to learn opens up the kind of doors within your organization that they’re looking for, ultimately aligning your investments in upskilling with team member’s interests and career paths.

Upskilling on the right things pays off for everyone

The 2020 State of Upskilling report shows clear trends of companies rewarding employees when they increase their competitive advantage through skill development. Technologists are hungry for bigger opportunities (and bigger paychecks), and when companies provide the right structure for that development, both parties are happy with the final result. Companies see the benefit in rewarding people who add more value to the organization, and those salary increases often exceed employee expectations.

Salary increase as a result of acquiring new skills

Additionally, upskilling your current workforce and rewarding them with salary increases and bigger opportunities is proven to be more economical than simply hiring to fill talent gaps. Demonstrating to new employees that your company has a culture of investing in its people and providing personalized opportunities for growth will increase your retention rate and build morale among existing employees, which makes everyone happier in the end. 

All you need to get started is the right platform and the right data.

Learn more about how leaders and technologists can better align their upskilling efforts in the 2020 State of Upskilling report.