I still find myself in awe of living in an age where technology advancements happen within a matter of weeks. Digital tools evolve at a supersonic speed, allowing for huge leaps in healthcare, education, and quality of life. The appreciation for that does not wane, no matter how much time passes.
The downside of traveling at immense speed is that everyone else has to work hard to keep up. End-users, certainly, but also IT professionals. The speed of software evolution creates a huge IT skills gap in the job market, and according to Gartner, 58% of the workforce will need new skill sets to do their jobs successfully.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if we all had an oracle (pun intended) that could see into the future and tell us what skills would be needed in 3-5 years?
So how do you keep up? How do you stay on top of all the technology changes at the core of the IT industry?
Individuals rarely have abilities on that scale, but organizations do. As company offices re-open into a living-with-the-pandemic world and start picking up the pace, they find themselves in a different place than they were when everything froze 18 months ago. New technologies have been rolled out and software platforms introduced new features, many of which are meant to accommodate the new remote-work arrangements – and companies have moved forward.
To take a clear example – the COVID-19 pandemic ignited a massive increase in cloud migration, accelerated by the need for remote access. From the IT perspective, it means DevOps, developers, DBAs, support, and technical writers all need to master cloud technology before actual go-live.
Employees are also hungry for learning opportunities. It builds capabilities, helps with marketability, and nurtures a feeling of being appreciated. The annual Retention Report by Work Institute uncovered an astounding figure: out of the 3.4 million people who quit their jobs in the United States throughout 2020, almost 20% did so for career advancement reasons. They did that in a year of financial devastation with the highest unemployment rates since 1948. What does that tell you about how highly workers value their professional growth?
Another story that highlights this point: in 2020, as lockdowns were paralyzing entire communities and many lost their jobs, Oracle University launched a promotion enabling users to get trained and certified on OCI (Oracle Cloud Infrastructure) for free. The certification promotion was available for two months, during which nearly 30,000 people registered to take an exam. So many people took advantage of being stuck at home to gain some more ground in the IT “marathon." In fact, the free OCI training and certification program was so successful that we decided to launch it again this year.
From the organization’s perspective, the need to invest in reskilling is just as critical. Rather than struggle with debilitating turnover rates, companies can start shifting financial resources toward reskilling and upskilling.
According to Work Institute’s 2020 Retention Report, “voluntary turnover costs exceeded $630 billion”. Let that number sink in for a moment. To break it down, that means:
… all of these are an investment with no return. Coupled with the statistic that over 1/3 of the interviewees for Work Institute’s 2020 Retention report left their workplace within the first year of their employment, this adds up to a colossal number of resources that most organizations would rather have allocated differently.
On the other hand, reskilling leverages existing advantages, and elevates them.
Organizations that commit to reskilling will ultimately find themselves at an advantage in many areas: automation, programming languages, and superior cloud management capabilities. On an individual level, employees can gain an edge by acquiring shiny new skills like data literacy, cloud proficiency for non-IT teams, and competitive research.
It is becoming evident that in 2021, reskilling is about adopting a habit rather than setting an endgame. Industry leaders now face the challenge of inventing new ways to foster a culture of continuous learning and faster training cycles.
It is truly inspiring to watch reskilling practices unfold before our very eyes and the magic of new ideas spreading. At Oracle University, we realized that a significant part of engaging learners is providing a compelling learning experience that resonates with common digital experiences and guides the learner with transparency. For example, MyLearn, Oracle’s learning platform, lists all the courses included in a learning path and how long each of them will take to consume.
Another powerful reskilling strategy is cultivating a mentorship programs—feeding two birds with one seed: 1) empowering employees to practice their new skills in a contained environment and 2) nurturing future leaders. It can be as simple as offering practice labs or sandbox environments. But it can also mean allowing employees to flex their newly acquired skills with the close guidance of a colleague, creating a safe space for mistakes.
Yet another reskilling practice that has been gaining momentum is AI-based contextual learning. Microlearning content is triggered exactly when and where users need it. The secret of this technology is rooted in supportive learning. By helping users navigate where they need to go, the learning process is simplified, and new regions of the platform are more readily available. The same goes for machine translation that makes learning accessible to more people.
Investing in employees is not only the responsible thing to do, but also an investment with a sound return. To return to the question we started off with: what skills will be needed by organizations in 3-5 years and what can we do to provide them to our workforce?
The desire to learn is there and the technology is evolving quickly. Nothing is stopping us from moving at supersonic speed.
Interested in learning more about how you can future-proof your workforce? Watch the on-demand replay of our recent virtual summit, “Skills Matter: What Your Organization Needs to Survive and Thrive.”
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Noa joined the Oracle University marketing team when Oracle acquired Iridize. With a strong background in digital marketing, UX planning and customer strategies, Noa headed the content team in Iridize and now joins Oracle as a resident Guided Learning and content expert.