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COVID-19 pandemic leads to surge in upskilling, study shows

By Catherine Knowles, 03 Sep 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic and remote work has uncovered skills gaps and led to new emphasis on upskilling, according to Pluralsight’s new 2021 State of Upskilling report.

More specifically, the report found that technology challenges introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic and the emerging trend of remote work uncovered technology skills gaps at many organisations, which in turn required new approaches to upskilling efforts.

According to the report, since early 2020 technologists reported that their confidence to do their 'current jobs' (down 13%) as well as 'jobs in the next three years' (down 8%) both decreased from a year ago.

Respondents also identified the top skills gaps that were exacerbated by working from home in 2020, which included cloud computing, cybersecurity, and data storage.

In turn, many technology organisations not only recognised the growing skills gaps, but also placed a higher priority on addressing the skills of their technology workers, the report finds.

In addition, 51% of respondents claimed that their organisations made upskilling a priority in 2020 once work-from-home mandates became commonplace.

The report found that there is a gap between satisfaction in upskilling resources between technologists and senior management.

In fact, 88% of respondents with C-suite job titles reported that they were satisfied with their organisation’s current upskilling initiatives. Conversely, only 56% of individual contributors expressed satisfaction.

Technologists in small organisations showed lower levels of satisfaction with upskilling resources (65%) than their peers at extra-large (73%), large (82%), and medium-sized (81%) companies.

One of the biggest changes for technologists in the past year is the emergence of hands-on learning as a primary means of skill development.

A majority of respondents seek out the ability to learn while doing, with 77% of technology professionals stating that hands-on learning opportunities are an essential part of any upskilling program, the report finds.

Pluralsight Skills general manager Gary Eimerman says, “Closing the technology skills gap continues to be one of the biggest challenges facing enterprises.

"As organisations around the world responded to the pandemic by accelerating digital transformation initiatives, accelerating the move of applications to cloud platforms, and supporting remote employees, the need for effective and scalable upskilling tools became even more important.

"It’s clear that organisations that close the skills gap better position themselves to retain top employees and win in these new and unpredictable times.”

Pluralsight is a technology workforce development company focused on helping companies and teams build better products by developing critical skills, improving processes and gaining insights through data, and providing strategic skills consulting.

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