Tech giants, such as Spotify, Google, and LinkedIn, together with the City University of New York (CUNY), are organizing 22 computer-science courses to upskill new hires with the skills they need after completing a traditional college degree. This semester, over 1,500 students participated in 73 classes on nine campuses as part of the Tech-in-Residence Corps program, a CUNY initiative, launched to meet the increasing demand for technology courses, including data science, data analytics, and cybersecurity.  

The Tech-in-Residence Corps program, run by the Department of Small Business Services, also recruits instructors who work for leading technology companies, and have extensive experience in areas ranging from cybersecurity to data visualization, blockchain, and software engineering. 

Market analysts feel that these 22 different courses will not only enable students to acquire practical skills, but the courses will also make them work-ready for future roles, by providing them with the much-needed exposure to apply their knowledge in real-world scenarios. According to Nikolai Avteniev, Senior Engineer at LinkedIn, who has been teaching CUNY students since 2018, the Tech-in-Residence Corps program will also prepare students to work collaboratively on team projects, which most people struggle with when they join a new job.  

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The Worldwide Tech Talent Shortage is Real and It’s Serious

According to an analysis, as many as 14 G20 countries could lose over one percentage point in their annual GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth rate, if they cannot respond effectively to the skills required for the data-driven future of work. This would be tantamount to a drop of up to $11.5 trillion in cumulative growth over the next decade, which is alarming for the world economy.

Many reports suggest that as the world gears up to embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0), represented by AI (artificial intelligence), robotics, machine learning (ML), and other intelligent technologies, access to a skilled workforce will be crucial. Skilled personnel will not only be an asset but will also be a crucial factor that will set thriving economies and companies apart from the unsuccessful ones.    

The European Commission, in a study, revealed that the European Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector might have 756,000 jobs vacant by the end of 2020 if ICT employers do not adopt a holistic approach to bridging the gap between the skills needed for future roles and the skills they currently possess. In another report, the World Economic Forum predicts that the labor division between humans and machines will create 133 million new roles by 2022. If economies and companies do not address the growing demand for future skills, the skills gap will continue to widen, leading to even greater talent shortages in the coming days.

Why are Organizations Worldwide Facing a Shortage of Talent? 

The traditional education system is not aligned to meet the skills demand for future roles that are emerging within Industry 4.0. The challenge is more critical for roles vulnerable to technological disruptions, especially intelligent automation. The impact of real-world skills shortages is being felt around the world, and business leaders believe that upskilling existing and new employees through experiential learning techniques is central to empowering the vulnerable workforce to gain real-world skills.

“My 4-year computer science course helped me learn theories and fundamentals, but traditional academia did not prepare me for the application of knowledge, using tools deployed in the industry,” says Nicki Smith, 37, senior data analyst for a multinational IT company. “Thanks to my organization’s upskilling program, it made me who I am today,” she adds. 

Today, it is More About Learning Than About Education 

A globally recognized expert in education, and currently a senior research fellow at the Learning Policy Institute, Tony Wagner, brilliantly put it:

“We still talk about a knowledge economy, but the reality is that the world is moving beyond it. What we have now is an innovation economy. Knowledge has been commoditized. There is no longer a competitive advantage in simply knowing more than other people because Google knows everything. What the world cares about is not how much you know, but what you can do with it.”

To put knowledge to use, students need to adopt innovative learning techniques, such as the blended-learning module, which focuses on hands-on application, rather than delivering knowledge through lectures. Also called “mixed learning,” “hybrid learning” or “flipped classroom”, blended-learning is a successful learning module because it is engaging, hands-on, and immersive, besides offering students to learn at their own pace, anywhere, at any time. 

A 2015 University of Chicago study, used brain scans to assess the impact of experiential learning. The research shows that hands-on applications activate the motor-related and sensory areas of the brain, helping students to learn deeper and faster. Many studies on behavioral sciences and neuroscience also confirm that real-world skills are best gained via blended learning courses, such as the ones offered by top institutes like Simplilearn. 

In association with IBM, Simplilearn, one of the world’s leading certification providers, offers short-term online training courses that enable professionals to upskill and boost their careers.  The partnership between Simplilearn and IBM means that the benefits of a program like CUNY’s Tech-in-Residence are available through Simplilearn to learners everywhere.

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