With the rise of artificial intelligence (A.I.), data analytics, and even augmented reality (AR), more workers need technology skills. That’s true of end-users who need to understand increasingly sophisticated tools, but it’s even more important for tech pros who have to keep up with the rapid evolution of programming languages, frameworks, and libraries.
Industry observers suggest that employers face a growing need for trainers who have a deep knowledge of technologies and methodologies such as DevOps, Agile, A.I. and cybersecurity. Their challenge is finding people who not only understand the technology, but have the skills to be effective trainers, as well.
This ties into real business issues. For example, a study by CA Technologies and Freeform Dynamics found that, despite their commitment to the full adoption of Agile and DevOps, employers haven’t been able to fully implement them. That could impact delivery times and customer satisfaction, not to mention revenue growth. Companies that have leveraged Agile and DevOps throughout their organization reported 60 percent higher revenue and profit growth, the report said, and are 2.4 times more likely than the rest of the organizations surveyed to grow their businesses at a rate higher than 20 percent.
It’s no surprise, then, that organizations of all sizes are more focused on upskilling or retraining their current workers. According to Forbes, AT&T believes 100,000 of its current employees hold jobs that will be irrelevant in 10 years. In response, it’s investing more than $1 billion in its “Workforce 2020” initiative to boost workforce skills. Overall, the company works “constantly to engage and reskill our over 250,000 employees and to inspire a culture of continuous learning,” a spokesperson told Dice Insights. Annually, it invests about $220 million on 20 million hours’ worth of internal training.
In the tech world, where employers are already struggling with a fierce labor shortage, finding professionals to help address the training challenge is especially acute. Think about it: there’s already a lack of professionals who have the skills to work with advanced technologies. Tech pros are too busy doing actual projects to train their colleagues on the skills they’ve mastered.
Eduardo Kassner, chief technology officer for worldwide channels and programs at Microsoft, sees this lack of trainers as a problem that’s both wide and deep. With the skills shortage hitting everything from cybersecurity to DevOps to A.I., “across the board, there’s a big gap,” he said. “The problem is that there’s not enough talent out there.”
It’s “super hard” for tech pros to keep their skills updated because, while they’re doing their current job, organizations “haven’t made learning part of the day-to-day business,” he added. Many, if not most, tech pros do their learning outside of working hours, on nights or weekends, for example.
All of this presents opportunities for a certain kind of tech professional. People who live and breathe technology first probably aren’t the best-suited to take on some kind of teaching role. It’s those who have “a real passion for people,” Kassner said, who can successfully edge their career into an educational role.
“They love the classroom environment and they love giving back and they get a lot of energy from giving,” he said. Working to educate colleagues on the intricacies of advanced technology is a path for those “who want to excite people and bring them along on the journey.” Tech pros interested in educating others, Kassner believes, must have that kind of passion first, then marry it with their love of technology.
The need for such people is tremendous, Kassner added, so “people who have the passion and can deliver the good” should have plenty of options for a great career.
The people at AT&T agree. “We believe it’s best to align with your passions to find success in any role,” their spokesperson said. “Once you are skilled in something, and you truly understand it, you should be able to teach it.”