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Cloud skills training keeps (and grows) tech jobs in-house

Cloud skills training programs enhance professional development and skill building for tech employees, elevating retention rates and keeping tech jobs in-house.

Aug 25, 2023 • 5 Minute Read

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  • Cloud
  • Business
  • Learning & Development

94% of organizations already operate in the cloud. Yet 62% limit cloud training to their technical teams—even though skill development is vital to operating in the cloud successfully, retaining top talent, and driving ROI. 

In this post, we uncover why upskilling impacts retention and how you can leverage skill development to keep your people and create customer value.

Table of contents

Why is there a need to focus on cloud skills training?

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) estimates that the average cost per hire is nearly $4,700. But soft costs, like reduced productivity, can cause this number to rise to almost three or four times the open position’s salary. 

This isn’t new. We know that losing and replacing top talent is expensive. So rather than focus on the cost of hiring new talent, we want to turn our attention to the reverse: retaining high-value people. After all, if you can retain your top performers, you reduce the need to recruit new talent. And you do that with cloud skills training.

Cloud training impacts retention rates and business continuity

In such a quickly changing industry, technologists are always learning something new, whether that’s generative AI or the latest cloud trend. In 2022 alone, we recorded a 2,367% increase in the consumption of cloud courses, labs, and sandboxes across our platform. 

Clearly, technologists want to learn new skills. But 74% plan to leave their current tech jobs within one year. Why? They want to grow their responsibilities and skill sets, and they’re willing to switch companies to do so.

The bottom line: Employees stay longer at companies that invest in their skills. 

Common employee learning styles

Despite the benefits, upskilling is a long, and sometimes fraught, process. Some employees will leap into it right away, but some may drag their feet. Regardless of their initial attitude, the longer you keep at it, the more likely you are to convince an employee that you’re invested in their success—while positively impacting your retention rate and business continuity at the same time.

Let’s take a look at the types of learners you’ll encounter when rolling out cloud training (or any upskilling initiative) and what type of support they may need.

The high-performers: Employees who are already learning

Your most driven and highest-performing employees are the ones proactively tackling new projects, learning new skills, and trying new things. They’re invested in their professional development and go out of their way to learn, even if your organization doesn’t require them to. They’re already engaged and likely to stay with your business. 

These are also your highest-value employees. In a competitive market, they’re some of the hardest to retain. Continuing to provide new, meaningful learning programs will help them sustain their momentum.

The speedsters: Employees who blitz through courses and cloud certifications

If you require teams to complete courses or earn cloud certifications, there will always be employees who race through training programs to get them out of the way. While these employees may not pose the highest risk to your retention rate, they may not be the most engaged, either. 

Completing courses for the sake of completing courses, or earning certs for the sake of earning certs, shouldn’t necessarily be a company’s goal, even if it’s a good barometer for employee skill growth.

These employees need support from leaders to apply the skills they learn in a real-world environment. They also need to know how skill development relates to their particular role and professional development before they can be fully on board.

The slow and steady: Employees who take longer to train

In contrast to the speedsters, some employees take longer to complete cloud training programs for a variety of reasons. Their learning style may not align with the resources provided. They may try to squeeze learning time around a heavy workload. They may simply want to take their time to learn the material extra well.

Depending on the reason, they may need your help understanding what to prioritize, how to make time to learn, and where to access immersive learning resources like hands-on labs. Without this support, you risk losing their engagement and increasing attrition.

Tailoring training programs for cloud skills and lifelong learning

You need a cloud skills strategy that prioritizes continuous learning to engage and retain your most talented employees.

Download the 2023 State of Cloud report for more cloud training insights.

Incentivize learning

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to building learning programs. Some companies may encourage employees to use 20% of their work week for skill building. Others may ask employees to fit in training whenever they have the time. And some companies may even incentivize employees to complete their training programs with bonuses or extra time off.

Incentivizing certainly pays off. ManTech, a contracting firm, launched an internal certification challenge during which employees were awarded cash bonuses for completing a cert. During its first certification challenge, 312 employees earned cloud certifications in just 100 days (compared to the organization’s goal of 100 certifications in 100 days).

Build a cloud community

Cloud communities build buy-in across all levels of your organization. Internal cloud leaders define best practices, develop learning programs, and ensure cloud skills align with business outcomes. Cloud enthusiasts encourage continuous learning and build community within your organization.

Focused cloud communities work. When Wells Fargo created a Technology College, over 5,000 employees earned their cloud certification, and 36,000 unique learners completed more than 225,000 classes.

These cloud communities can also deliver unexpected benefits. For example, a team lead may start looking for experts in S3. An employee may want to complete the S3 master class but, upon starting, find it really isn’t all that interesting. Instead, they discover they like working on security—and that’s a skill the company may need as well.

The learner found something they’re passionate about. And the employer was able to empower them to grow and reap the benefits of their efforts. It may have taken a little longer to get there, but employers who make space for employees to learn, grow, and get excited about learning are more likely to retain those employees in the long run.

Provide hands-on opportunities to apply cloud skills

Different types of learners require different approaches to learning and development. Learners may also progress through training programs and grow their cloud skills at different speeds. You ensure the process goes smoothly by building structures that enable employees to move at their own pace and put their new professional skills to work right away. 

This may include hands-on labs and sandboxes that provide risk-free environments for learners to test their skills. Or real-world projects that involve using their newfound knowledge. Or even self-paced learning with an element of instructor-led training. Providing a variety of learning options ensures employees have access to the resources they find most effective.

Halting the tech brain drain with training programs

Between layoffs and natural attrition, talented employees are leaving the tech industry. While you can’t (and shouldn’t) retain every technologist, cloud training can help your most talented employees feel fulfilled and engaged at your organization.

And this doesn’t apply only to cloud training—organizations that invest in any meaningful upskilling are more likely to retain their top talent.

Learn how to build an exterprise cloud strategy.

Pluralsight Content Team

Pluralsight C.

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