Headshot_Carlos-Marquez-
Carlos Alexei Marquez Global Partner Enablement Lead for Microsoft Azure

Closing the tech skills gap: Why partners should embrace continual learning

Man sitting at table using touchscreen on laptop

Update March 7, 2022: Sign up for additional Microsoft Cloud Week for Partner events – The first several cloud weeks we’ve hosted so far this year have trained thousands of our partners and their employees, and we hope to pass along knowledge to many more in the coming months. Learn more about and register for the other upcoming Microsoft Cloud Week for Partners events, which include Azure, Security, and Business Applications.

I recently started learning how to play a musical keyboard. While some people might find this kind of challenge to be intimidating, I chose a realistic goal: learning how to play just one song. I didn’t start with the goal of mastering the instrument, because I don’t need to become an expert all at once.

You can take the same approach with learning more about technology—focus on learning a little every day. Over time, that knowledge adds up. I think we all can agree that the accelerating evolution of technology—cloud and hybrid computing, AI, IoT, etc.—requires us to be perpetual learners to keep improving our skills.

Taking a micro-learning approach makes learning less intimidating and often more relevant to the skills you need to acquire. It’s the approach we’ve taken for our upcoming Microsoft Azure Cloud Week for Partners, a great opportunity to improve your knowledge for role-based Azure certification. By offering opportunities like these, Microsoft hopes to contribute to closing the widening skills gaps that affect our industry.

How the skills gap costs us all

Why is skilling so important? Because it’s vital for the future of companies and our tech employees. A 2020 survey by Global Knowledge found 78 percent of IT decision-makers said their teams lack the skills to meet present and future needs. Additionally, 68 percent predict additional skills gaps will emerge in the next two years. As a result, the skills gap had an estimated $302 billion impact on businesses in 2019 alone, according to IDC. It even leads to longer work hours and heavier workloads for existing tech employees. Employees who achieve new certifications for in-demand skills, on the other hand, can boost their pay by $12,000 or more.

With the quick pace at which technology evolves, it’s important for Microsoft and our partners to give people the opportunities and time needed to keep upgrading their skills and earning certifications. IT decision-makers see value and recognize the return on investment that results when their team members earn Microsoft certifications for upgraded tech skills. Many of our partners agree, as we’ve seen a 200 percent increase in training and certification activities over the past two years.

We’re also seeing a growing need among our partners to not only have technical employees that are trained and certified, but that are also project ready. As Microsoft has recognized this gap in getting new hires application-based training so they can work on projects faster, we are now collaborating with partners to provide accelerated training modalities that will help get new hires to a project-ready state more quickly for specific role types and Azure workloads.

Tips for starting your learning journey

As you look at how you can start your own technical learning journey with Azure and begin advancing your career, here are a few guiding questions and useful tips I’ve picked up over time for making sure the experience is truly beneficial:

  1. First, how do you learn best? Does a self-paced path work for you? Would you rather take an instructor-led course, or learn in smaller, more concentrated doses? Knowing the answer to that can help you choose the training option that will give you the best results.
  2. What are you trying to learn? Do you know what apps, platforms, or skills you need to upgrade your knowledge or earn a specific certification? Is there a course or certification that is in demand or that could lead more quickly to advancing your career? Are you looking to learn around a specific role: cloud engineer, cloud developer, cloud data engineer, or cloud administrator? Ask your manager or co-workers with more experience if you’re unsure. And, as I mentioned above, make sure your learning goal is realistic.
  3. Make sure you create the time you need for learning. If you’re learning skills related to your job, see if you can dedicate part of your workday to that pursuit. Otherwise, make sure you have at least a little time on a regular basis to advance your training.
  4. Finally, once you learn something new, apply it. It’s easy to start forgetting newly acquired knowledge if you don’t use it in your job or can’t share what you know with others.

Available resources to help partners with this challenge

With a growing demand for training, Microsoft has committed to expanding the events and resources that provide our partners’ teams—as well as our own—with the updated skills most needed for our success. We have developed numerous paths to get started, including always-on training via Microsoft Learn and our Virtual Training Series, which offer informative webinars and units that prepare participants for certification exams and more.

Many of our training courses try to break down learning into easily digestible, approachable units involving different elements, as we know that no single modality is best for all learners. If you know what Microsoft skill you want to learn right away, you can find it by browsing through our courses.

Learn more about Azure and jump start your career

With the rapid, notable growth of the Azure cloud and the huge potential we see for cloud computing, it’s not surprising that Microsoft Azure training and certification is in high demand. Whether you need to learn Azure fundamentals or polish your role-based skills in Azure, we offer certifications recommended for every level.

The best place to start, though? Azure Cloud Week for Partners. This virtual training event will take place January 24-28, providing a concentrated, five-day experience for tech professionals who want to build their Azure skills in a variety of areas. Participants can choose from instructor-led courses, on-demand labs, and Q&A sessions during the hours that best fit into their busy schedules. Each day will offer two live training sessions with start times optimized for your location so you can easily begin preparing for certification.

Our team aims to make this and future events as valuable as possible for our partners while providing the type of skills and knowledge that will narrow the skills gap for you and your teams. We hope you will register and spend at least a few of your days as a perpetual learner focused on building out your Azure skillset.