Today’s opportunity to skill-up will be gone tomorrow.
Leaders interested in advancing their missions, people and community have a golden opportunity, but the window is closing fast. As we all make our way through the shift to remote work and remote IT operations, one message seems to be resounding across almost every conference call, video conference and even team virtual happy hour. That resonating message or sentiment is that we now have more time for work, due to spending less time preparing for and commuting to work.
However, with this gain in time comes an opportunity to fill the time with new strategic activities not just more of the same routine tactical tasks. This applies to all of us, government and contractor, management and operations, and for senior, mid, and junior personnel.
Considering the strain on budgets these days compiled with restrictions on remote interactions, what should leadership champion to their managers and operators? The answer is to double up or “double down,” meaning do more of the highly available, highly relevant and highly beneficial online training from emerging technology providers across the IT landscape, and do it now.
Thanks to cloud service providers, software-as-a-service platform providers, social media platforms and emerging artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotic process automation providers, there is an abundance of free, online training that will benefit all who pursue it.
But the time to increase this training will pass quickly because once new habits form and/or old routines return, the opportunity to inject education will wane. Leaders should recognize that there are three prominent reasons to encourage more training now:
- Strengthen agency mission readiness.
- Advance individuals’ professional skill sets and subject matter expertise.
- Fortify our IT community as the speed of change continues to increase.
First, from a mission operations perspective, cross-training staff on emerging and/or maturing technologies increases resiliency and improves continuity of operations, plus, by furthering the education of managers to more technical aspects of the tools being consumed by the mission can improve planning, reduce miscommunication, and enable decision making.
Second, from an individual’s perspective, continued education focusing on emerging technology including obtaining accreditations (usually less technical for business roles) and certifications (usually more technical for developers, architects, and analysts) improves job satisfaction and performance, which benefits both the person and the mission.
Third, from a community perspective, more training for junior, mid and senior personnel will help fill some of the talent deficit gap the global IT community is facing. Obviously, this training of existing personnel does not increase the pipeline or “growth” of new IT talent, but it can help refine and even reskill human capital along the way.
Organizations and leaders should consider adding free, online training of appropriate technologies to well-established human resources programs, to popular Pathways programs consisting of thematic training for specific, emerging technologies, to formal personnel development programs, and even as informal encouragements to their teams and individuals to train more.
Keeping up with the rate of technology change is a challenge for us all, and with the seemingly “new normal”, those who do not inject more free, online training will regret missing the chance to benefit their missions, their people, and our community.
Brendan Walsh is senior vice president of Partners Relations at 1901 Group.
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