We are working and living in unprecedented times. The COVID pandemic is driving rapid digital transformation.  Our partners and customers have been engaging in a rich dialogue on how to  navigate. One of the most pressing topics is skills development. We need to  rapidly and  collectively accelerate skills development to ensure Canadian employees, small businesses, enterprises and government can survive and thrive.    

This blog post makes the case for skilling and shares programs and resources you can leverage.  

SKILLS SHORTAGE… LET’S CLOSE THE GAP:  There’s a huge market for technical and digital skills. They have enduring, quantitative market value. The technical skills shortage manifests within the technology industry as well. Cloud-based companies rank building and/or hiring skills among their top challenges.

When professionals and firms invest in their skills, it pays dividends.  Pearson VUE’s 2018 “Value of IT Certification” reports an impressive set of benefits yielded by certification training: greater self-confidence, more knowledge in real work situations, higher quality work, increased job satisfaction, increased salaries/wages, increased opportunity, better reviews— you name it. 

If you’re a Canadian app or web developer, chances are you already know all of this already and may have done diverse training, both informal and formal, to get this far. Many developers report that they are “self taught.” 

INVEST IN SKILLING… 

Whether you prefer more formal training — towards degrees and certification — or informal training, so you can complete projects, now is a great time to invest in you. Get practical, hands-on training to expand, deepen, and sharpen your skills and build your knowledge with emerging platforms and technologies. 

Build a learning culture 

Our most successful Microsoft partners foster a learning business culture, where employees feel motivated to learn from each other and third parties.  They follow the following principles: 

  1. Invest in upskilling/training your teams 
  2. Reward employees that invest in learning 
  3. Prioritize certification in hiring and recruiting 

Skilling best practices 

In conversations with partners across Canada, we’ve captured some of their best practices for to build a learning culture: 

  • Launch a skills challenge -> Technology companies across Canada have already implemented internal challenges to get employees excited about building their skills. Do the same!   
  • Book your certification training into calendars -> Don’t leave your training open-ended. Instead, use date-driven behavior to ensure you complete your learning goals. 
  • Embrace failure as a vehicle for learning -> While we may not invite the experience, failing allows you to experience exams and provides insights into where to focus your learning. 
  • Practice, practice, practice -> When prepping for a certification, I like to go through every question on the MeasureUp practice exam and then follow up on the questions I got wrong. 
  • Get hands-on -> Experiment as much as humanly possible. Microsoft Learn is great because it offers built-in content with an integrated sandbox, so you don’t need a subscription. 
  • Fall in love with tutorials -> If you’re new to Azure, make sure you check out the tutorials built into every product/service.  
  • Adopt a pet project -> For added motivation, adopt a cause, like a non-profit, then align the project’s scope with your skills development to make sure you finish what you started.  
  • Share your skills -> Teaching a skill is the best way to master it. By sharing your skills (and learning skills from your peers) you can give and get technical mentorship. 

And lastly, leverage Microsoft skilling resources…  

Good luck with your learning journey!  See you on the other side.