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The digital skills gap actions needed to be in place by the end of 2016

The digital skills gap will continue to be a major problem for tech companies around the world in 2016 and long after that. The obvious question is what to do in order to start fixing this issue as soon as possible.

Of course, many companies are actively working on this and have been at it for quite some time. The results though are a bit neither here, nor there. The reason for this is quite simple – most companies are simply trying to mitigate the falling behind of their own growth and manage to add only the bare minimum of needed new employees.

To say it another way, companies are trying to find and employ as many developers and skilled workers as they can in order to simply have the people to do the extra work that comes with their growth so they can sustain it. But most companies, not all of course, can’t find enough skilled workers not only to fill the desperately needed positions, but also to be able to build even more teams who can work on new things and facilitate the exponential growth most companies dream of.

It’s the need to have enough people to have all the work done with as minimal stress or pressure as possible, which frees up the workers minds and allows them to create new things and be more productive. These are all problems that tech companies, big, medium and small will continue to experience in the years to come..

So what to do about it?

There are quite a few companies, institutions and organizations that have big long term strategies about solving the digital skills gap. Their strategies often lack one component – the “now”. What are we doing right now? According to Regina Moran, CEO of Fujitsu UK & Ireland, 2016 is the year to actively start working on this and laying the foundation. She advises companies to support STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) subjects in schools and universities. The key message here is that education is changing. It’s becoming more and more apparent that most current education systems and even some methods are rapidly losing their effectiveness and practicality for two reasons:

First, they can’t handle the huge volume of people that the business needs. They can produce only so many workers at a time, which is far, far from enough.

Second, traditional education systems are very slow. It takes you years before you can get a degree and what happens is then you find out that more and more businesses are starting to look for experience and a core set of skills which is integral to the given company and makes it more confident it can help you acquire the knowledge as you work and develop within the organization.

Then comes the “knowledge lag” – it takes time before new knowledge can make its way into most education systems and programs. In this day and age of blazing Internet, instant search, open platforms and most importantly, lightning fast technology progress, the current educational system simply can’t keep up with the pace.

As a result, it produces workers that know mostly out of date things that may serve a good base, they most often are not enough for the person to start working right away without additional certifications on the actual up-to-date knowledge. Of course, there are universities and schools that do manage this, but they are pretty much exceptions to the rule, sadly.

STEM education is one way to go. It means to put these subjects at the forefront of education facilities. It also means to foster new learning methods that provide for easier understanding of these more specific topics and apply newer approaches towards students.

Training is a nifty alternative

That all sounds great, but… what if I am already out of school? Or what if I am already working but I feel like I need more knowledge? Or what if my employees need extra qualifications? We can’t all go back to school to learn STEM subjects the new ways, right? Plus not all of us were actually that good in school and prefer different ways to learn.

This is where IT training comes. When done by certified, capable and experienced people that love to do it, then the results can be quite impressive. There are several added benefits to training. First, it is up-to-date. New courses are always coming out, adding more and more value, giving exact knowledge for an exact topic, platform or product.

Second, it is flexible. While most trainers still and will prefer in-class sessions, they can always adapt their training to the trainee’s style. As certified Citrix trainer Johannes Norz says himself: “Everybody has a different approach to reading. Some people learn from reading, some learn from doing, some learn from listening. To me it’s reading. To some people it is doing, but it is always easier with an instructor nearby”. Good trainers can see this and adapt their methods to help you get the most out of the training.

“People respond well to real life examples, scenarios that have happened to you or to them – if you can fix an issue or explain why a service didn’t work in their production environment it would be a lot better than just going through the slide deck”, says Dan Stroescu, an experienced IT specialist and VMware trainer.

Third, it is open to new things. eLearning is becoming a big part of training by adding interactive apps, videos, gamification and so on. These things might not replace traditional trainings, but they add a very important additional engagement layer which helps retaining the knowledge and accessing extra content and tips that can also help remember details from the courses or find new ones.

To recap, 2016 is the time when tech companies need to start working towards defeating the digital skills gap. First, they need to urge schools and governments to reform the education system. Second, they need to act themselves and train their own employees and improve their skills which would make them more capable and more productive. This will help offset somewhat the lack of new, skilled workers coming in in the desired numbers.

In this current state of things, every little improvement counts. That is if we want the tech industry to continue to grow as fast or faster and we here at Coursedot think everyone wants this. This is why we created the Coursedot marketplace where finding and choosing training courses from the world’s top training providers is made easier and more affordable. It is a no-brainer. If you want to facilitate growth in your company and workers, then this is the year to start making it happen. Make it happen.