One of the things that many IT professionals focused on during the past year has been enhancing their overall skills while working from home to help contain the COVID-19 pandemic. With video now becoming the primary medium through which IT professionals are engaging with both colleagues and consuming content, it turns out many employees took advantage of their time at home to increase their IT skills.
A report from LinkedIn Learning finds that among individuals who signed up for online training on its platform in 2020 there were 55,000 individuals that were promoted, with 8,500 of those individuals being engineers. Of course, there’s no absolute correlation between online training and getting promoted, but LinkedIn Learning reports training sessions involving Python for Data Science, SQL, project management, Kubernetes, DevOps, Docker and agile development were among the most watched by individuals that got promoted.
LinkedIn has previously estimated there will be 150 million new jobs created requiring some level of technology expertise over the next five years. That might not make up for the roughly 250 million jobs lost during the pandemic, but it does suggest there is now a high correlation between technology acumen and an individual’s future prospects.
Learning on the Job
A large percentage of the jobs that require IT skills, however, are not necessarily going to be created within traditional IT departments, say Brandi Shailer, director of tech content for LinkedIn Learning. In many cases, business units are encouraging employees that are more familiar with their internal processes and workflows to develop IT skills, notes Shailer.
That approach tends to accelerate digital business transformation initiatives by, among other things, making the business unit less dependent on a centralized IT function that is already typically overwhelmed by a long list of tasks and projects.
Employees are also acquiring IT skills in anticipation of their next job at possibly another company, adds Shailer. “It’s not like the 1950s where people tended to work for a single company their whole career,” she notes.
Keeping an Eye on AI
Of course, the one thing that should be top of mind for anyone investing in IT skills is the degree to which demand for that skill will be impacted by artificial intelligence (AI). By and large, AI will only augment the skills of individuals performing a specific task. However, as more rote functions become automated the number of entry level positions is likely to decline. The level of skill and knowledge expected of a new employee is likely to be a lot higher as tasks such as backup and recovery become more automated.
Regardless of how AI impacts demand for skills, most individuals will be better served by continuously investing in themselves rather than waiting on the organization they work for to make training resources available. Managers are often not only reluctant to give employees the time needed to learn a new skill, the budget dollars allocated for training also tend to be limited. Of course, that’s not always the case, but at the end of the day it’s always better to be in control of one’s own destiny.