An article from U.S. News & World Report published earlier this year listed the 25 best jobs of 2015 based on salary, work-life balance, and expected employment growth, and five of those jobs are in the IT field: IT manager, web developer, computer systems analyst, information security analyst, and software developer. Note that every job on the list requires at least some computer skills.
In our increasingly digital world, it’s no longer a matter of whether you need IT training, but rather what kind of IT training would be most beneficial for your particular career goals. In response to the increasing demand for employees with IT skills, many colleges, universities, and IT training institutes have begun offering bundled courses specially designed to prepare students for specific positions.
Current educational trends
Businesses have been teaming up with institutions of higher learning to create and offer courses that contain the information and skill sets most needed in today’s workplace. According to Forbes, “nanodegree” is the new term for IT training programs that typically take less than a year to complete. In addition to saving students time and money, there are a multitude of benefits associated with smart IT training.
There are also a few MOOCs (massive open online courses) for IT training available. However, former Google executive Sebastian Thrun stated in an article in Fortune magazine that “in MOOCs people didn’t learn very much … Feedback and mentoring is a big part of it, we learned. MOOCs had a 2 percent finishing rate, and a nanodegree course with feedback and mentoring has 90 percent.”
The importance of mentoring and feedback has resulted in businesses teaming up with higher education not only to develop courses, but to provide internships. Some IT training programs now provide internship opportunities with businesses for their students to gain practical experience using their new skills.
Benefits of smart IT training
In addition to allowing students to make valuable business connections that often lead to employment, internships also benefit employers. In exchange for offering students the opportunity to gain practical experience, employers are rewarded with the chance to hire the best and brightest. Their companies also benefit by remaining perpetually on the cutting edge of IT technology, which is increasingly necessary just to remain competitive.
The ability to gain new skills quickly provides employees with more lateral and upward mobility, thereby ensuring that their career experiences will be more diverse and interesting. They also make it possible for people to continue growing in their careers at their own pace. Once someone has grown comfortable implementing newly acquired skills in the workplace (and reaping the economic benefits), they can then opt to add another nanodegree to their resume. Since IT certification programs are much more affordable than four-year degrees, it’s now possible for people to pursue multiple career paths over the course of their working lives.
Not only does IT training provide career mobility, but it can also provide global mobility as well. According to global employment statistics, there are a number of countries experiencing a shortage of IT professionals. If you’ve always dreamed of living and working in another country and experiencing some of the richness of world culture, acquiring IT skills is great preparation for global adventure.
IT training vs. a traditional degree
Some educators object to certification programs, arguing that they don’t provide a well-rounded education. While there are certainly still advantages to getting a four-year degree, the reality is that information technology is progressing so rapidly that material learned in a student’s freshman year is often outdated and obsolete even before he or she graduates. The lower cost of IT training programs leave students relatively debt-free as well as highly employable in a well-paying field.
Education is an important factor in achieving a high quality of life and having the ability to appreciate it more fully. Smart IT training makes it possible not to have to choose between a well-rounded education and employability. Investing a relatively small amount of time and money to increase earning power results in employees who are lifelong learners through experience as well as academia.
For more insight on training for the Digital Economy, see Bottom-Up Leadership And Digital Skills Training.