A recent Insights article on Dice looked at software developers’ favorite ways to acquire new skills.  This subject should be of interest to every business because digital transformation touches every existing industry and business, even the businesses that don’t directly employ tech workers.

Ongoing learning is an essential career practice for software developers.  It’s not just important to their careers in keeping their skills current and marketable as technology evolves.  It’s also vital to their current employers’ preparedness to respond to changing markets and competition and efforts to retain and motivate a tech workforce.

How Software Developers Prefer to Learn

The chart, which Dice derived from data from HackerRank, shows that the popularity of various learning tools varies by generation.  Younger developers are more partial than older ones to learning from YouTube videos, while older workers favor on-the-job training and books.  But across all the generations, online courses are a popular choice among developers.


Online courses are attractive for several reasons.

  • They give learners control over the scheduling and pace of the training.  
  • They offer the convenience of access from home or office, rather than having to travel to a physical classroom.  
  • They let learners tailor their learning programs by choosing the courses they need.

Ongoing learning directly assists in meeting the challenge of maintaining a modern tech workforce.  Hiring qualified tech workers is increasingly difficult as the competition for those workers becomes ever more intense.  Compounding this issue, the state of technology is in constant flux. Increasing computing power and availability increases the effectiveness and practicality of existing technologies and spawns entirely new ones.  As the Internet of Things (IoT) turns more objects into both sources and users of data, more businesses find needs for technologies like cloud computing, data science, artificial intelligence & machine learning.

Businesses thus have to deal with the challenge of ensuring they employ enough tech workers to meet their anticipated needs for new technology capabilities.  There are two ways to do this: hire workers qualified in the needed skills, and train existing workers to become qualified in the skills required. The latter approach is known as upskilling.

Upskilling for a Modern Tech Workforce

Upskilling is a fraction of the cost of hiring & onboarding.  As cited in a white paper from West Monroe Partners, the World Economic Forum has found that the average cost to hire and onboard an employee is US$4,425.  By contrast, the Association for Talent Development says that the average cost to upskill an employee is $1,300.

And, as noted above, the constantly changing state of technology means that organizations need to fill in workforce technology gaps on an ongoing basis, so the hire vs. upskill decision has to be made over and over.  That means that the upskilling savings opportunity presents itself over and over as well.

Upskilling has other benefits.  Employees at firms that use upskilling to make career advancement opportunities available experience increased employee satisfaction and reduced turnover.  In fact, prospective employees view companies with upskilling programs as more desirable employers, so upskilling can help with hiring.

Given that developers like online courses for upskilling and helping them upskill is good for your business, it makes sense for your company to help your developers access online courses as part of your learning and development program.  There are many providers of online courses in the edutech market today.

Blended Learning + Applied Learning = Better Learning

However, not all online courses are alike.  Two things amplify the power of online courses to upskill employees:

  • A blended learning methodology that supports learners
  • Applied to learn to keep the courses grounded in real-world requirements

Blended learning refers to a methodology that blends self-paced online course access with human support through the online channel.  Learners access instructor-led live “classroom in the cloud” sessions that allow for Q&A with the instructor. Learners also collaborate with their virtual classmates on team projects.  This blended learning methodology makes online education more powerful because it fosters the learners’ sense of support and guidance and prevents feelings of isolation that can demotivate them.

Applied learning refers to a curriculum focused on how the course material is applied in the real world to practical problems.  Successive projects let learners use their new skills and knowledge. A capstone project challenges the learners to pull together everything they have learned in their program to solve a real-world problem.  Along the way, learners exercise skills in accountability and teamwork, mimicking how they will use their new skills and knowledge in the workplace.

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Better Learning in Practice

The blended learning advantage is why non-profit VETTED chose Simplilearn as its training partner to reskill and upskill military veterans transitioning to the civilian workforce.  “VETTED is proud to partner with a force multiplier like Simplilearn,” says Robert White, VETTED’s CEO. “Their comprehensive blended learning program provides the convenience of online training with the personal attention of live virtual instruction, maximizing engagement for VETTED’s special operations professionals who are transitioning to new roles in the digital economy. This is the kind of agility and forward-thinking we look for in strategic partnerships."

Simplilearn provides similar training programs for enterprises. Simplilearn’s approach provides high-engagement, outcome-centric learning in a wide range of emerging technologies and skills.  These include AI and machine learning, data science/Big Data, cloud computing, cybersecurity, Agile & Scrum methodologies, DevOps, and more.

Through Simplilearn, you can offer your employees integrated in-depth programs like the Artificial Intelligence Engineer Master’s Program, or you can let them take individual courses to meet specific needs. Either way, you will assure your company of a well-trained tech workforce that can meet the demands of a rapidly-evolving marketplace.

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