State of skills report: How leaders invest in learning

Innovation and the ever-increasing pace of change poses a variety of challenges to technology leaders and the teams they manage. Some are eager to identify the relevant emerging tools and platforms they need to stay ahead of competitors, while others seek more effective solutions for up-skilling and investing in employees to stay ahead.

We asked 390 technology leaders about these challenges and what they’re doing to solve them.

Their answers revealed three distinct groups with differing attitudes and approaches to tech investment and skills development, with a variety of organization sizes and industries found within each group.

Prioritizers work in forward-thinking organizations that emphasize skills development, and make up 27 percent of respondents.

Functionals find creative ways to provide skills development opportunities, and account for 23 percent.

Strugglers don’t provide up-to-date—if any—skills development in their organizations, and represent the remaining 50 percent of respondents.

The gap between those who prioritize technology skills development and those who fail to see or struggle to implement them raises more than a few red flags for leaders. Here’s what we learned.

Different perceptions about the most needed skills

High-level managers and leaders of tech organizations recognize the need for skills development across a wide range of topics. But there are significant differences between Prioritizers, Functionals and Strugglers. Prioritizers and Functionals are more likely to see the need for investment in learning in all technology segments, while Strugglers are far less likely to identify learning needs in areas like cyber security and data science.

Which topics for technology skill development does your organization most need? 

Technology leaders in organizations that prioritize skills development are more likely to invest in cyber security and data science, while those that struggle have less need in these areas.

Skills development is critical, but there are challenges to implementing the right solutions

Leaders want to keep their teams’ skills current, but challenges within technology departments make delivering the right learning resources to employees difficult. Prioritizers’ biggest challenge is allocating time for skills development. Functionals report more challenges managing learning activities and providing the latest learning. Strugglers report fewer challenges across all segments, which may reflect a lack of awareness.

When it comes to the technical skills your organization needs, which are your biggest challenges? 

Prioritizers and Functionals report challenges when allocating resources to skills development, while Strugglers concentrate on keeping up with industry changes and knowing where skills stand.

Strategic leaders want to leverage skills at scale

As the pace of technology change accelerates, there’s a growing need to deliver new, critical skills across organizations. Respondents from all segments reported leveraging online learning systems.

Do you prefer employees to use online learning systems? 

A significant percentage (51 percent of Functionals and 44 percent of Prioritizers) expressed a need for online learning systems. Strugglers were least likely to report they use online learning systems.

Preferred platforms provide a range of options

When asked what learning system features are most important, all three segments prioritize the same utilities, but in significantly different numbers. Functionals and Prioritizers were almost 50 percent more likely than Strugglers to report needing help with solving big technical problems, skills retention and responsiveness to changes in technology.

What skill development software features are most important to you? 

Learning by doing, skills retention and the ability to measure outcomes are more important than ever.

Organizations are investing in skills development

Among organizations that prioritize skills development for employees, budgets range in size in every segment. 

What is your department's technology skills development budget for the current fiscal year? 

Strugglers spend as much as Functionals and Prioritizers when it comes to mid-range budgets.

Information technology departments are first in line for skills development budgets

While virtually all employees can benefit from skills development, different teams have varying levels of ability to get budget for learning initiatives. IT departments are most likely to be able to allocate budget toward technology skills development. And Prioritizers lead the way.

Which departments in your organization can allocate a budget for technology skills development? 

Only 29 percent of human resources and learning and development departments have the power to allocate budget for technology skills development.

Rapid technological changes means increasing budgets for learning

Half of all organizations expect to invest more in technology skill development in the coming year while a little less than half plan to keep investment steady. Less than 10 percent plan to cut funding for skills development.

How do you anticipate next year's budget for technology skills development will compare to this year's budget? 

Functionals are far more likely than the other groups to increase spending on skills development.

Pluralsight is the technology learning platform

Our platform provides an unparalleled learning experience for teams; one that will help your company create better products, faster. With Pluralsight, your teams have access to:

  • Thousands of on-demand courses in the latest technologies across software development, IT ops, data, cloud and security.
  • A cost-effective, scalable platform that can be deployed across departments and geographies.
  • Assessments and advanced skills analytics to quantify skill levels and measure progress.

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