“The company is not going to go and force you to do anything. So if you become obsolete because you haven’t kept yourself up, well, guess what?”
– Anonymous 451 Alliance member
“The company is not going to go and force you to do anything. So if you become obsolete because you haven’t kept yourself up, well, guess what?” – Anonymous 451 Alliance member
This 451 Alliance member doesn’t sugarcoat it: Lacking current IT skills can endanger your job security.
Many organizations have helped IT employees with training to help them stay up to date, but cost-cutting measures and increasing workloads have eroded those efforts.
Regardless of what employers provide, IT professionals have always had to assume responsibility for planning a career path, including training to keep up with changing technology. With so many intriguing areas emerging – automation, Internet of Things, containers, data analytics – IT upskilling can be the stepping stone to higher-paying technology jobs at any career stage.
Early-career IT Workers
Younger workers seem to have nailed the art of moving up the ladder with new skills. Often, they continue their education by using online resources. They’ve been fortunate to grow up as information gatherers, with internet resources only a click away. Technology change doesn’t faze them; it’s how they roll.
Mid-career IT Workers
For mid-career workers with more than a few working years ahead of them, there are opportunities to upskill in order to pivot to a new position. Sometimes training for a new technology area is available through in-house classes, or mentoring or shadowing in the current organization. Other skills-based training is offered online. IT certifications like (ISC)2 are a great way to polish your skills.
Even if re-tooling requires an investment of time or money, there’s likely enough work years remaining for the effort to pay off.
Late-career IT Workers
Older workers hoping to cling to their current jobs until retirement – even as technology changes sweep through their organizations – may run out of time.
Workloads are being migrated to cloud, and processes are being automated. Organizations claim these changes free workers for higher-order tasks. But there’s a limit to how many of those employees will be needed, and not everyone is qualified for higher-order jobs.
Without a demonstrable new skill related to the go-ahead strategy for their organization, workers can easily find themselves redundant or obsolete, and facing a possibly unexpected early retirement. For this reason, upskilling for late-career IT workers is imperative.
IT Job Seekers
Job seekers will find that training is being used by many employers as a proxy measure for flexibility, willingness to learn and the ability to change.
Hiring managers say that they look for recent training as a sign that workers take an interest in their own career by upskilling to stay current in their field. It also proves workers can learn new things.
Demonstrating the ability to adapt and change is particularly critical when managers are deciding which employees will be retained when downsizing.
Conversely, not having any recent training might suggest that a worker is unwilling or unable to acquire new skills. Unfortunately, age stereotyping can turn a lack of recent training into a particular stumbling block for older workers trying to move into a new job.
But what about job candidates who earned an impressive stack of credentials years ago? While most employers certainly recognize those accomplishments, they’ll also wonder, ‘What have you done lately?’
Bottom line: In a world where organizations are using new technologies to transform business processes and streamline the workforce, upskilling is critical. Training is not only the opportunity to learn new material, it’s also a chance to demonstrate the ability to acquire new skills and the flexibility to change and adapt.
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