Improving Skills at Work

A large part of the success I’ve had in my career has come from growing my skills, both technical and soft, throughout the years. I’ve always been driven to learn more and improve my ability to accomplish the tasks I’ve been assigned. Or those that I’ve sought out and tackled. A little initiative has been valuable in many successful reviews in the past.

There is a shortage of skilled IT workers. There are numerous job openings that I see in many companies, at least outside of some of the large tech firms. Many of those have been laying off workers, especially in some of their divisions that haven’t been as successful as expected during the last few years.

At the same time, a lot of companies are becoming more discriminating about who they hire. They don’t just need bodies, they need skilled bodies that can do the work they are struggling with, often in the DevOps, cloud, and data analysis areas.

While a lot of you reading this newsletter will have data skills, are they the ones companies need? Do you understand Git, DevOps, builds, and pipelines? Are you familiar with cloud technologies and gluing systems together remotely? Can you handle python, Spark, Power BI, or business requests to do something with AI/ML?

I’m often not surprised that many senior data people don’t have exposure to these technologies and aren’t sure how to gain skills. I am surprised that more employers aren’t upskilling existing people or reskilling them in new areas. It seems far too many companies don’t invest in their people, even in today’s world where hiring is both very expensive and time-consuming. It’s also frustrating when you can’t find qualified candidates.

There’s a good article on upskilling and reskilling and the importance of having a plan inside your organization. This goes hand in hand with a number of presentations from companies at the various DOES conferences over the years. The successful companies that embrace a digital transformation (whatever that means), DevOps, and the Cloud have ways to bring their current employees along. They invest in their people, requiring them to grow, but assisting them on the journey.

Not everyone wants to move to the cloud or DevOps or AI/ML. That’s fine, but my view is you have to embrace some change in your career if you want to create new opportunities for yourself and have choices in your future roles.

If your company doesn’t do enough to help you grow into new roles with new skills, maybe send them this article. Make a business case that you can do more with some help, and you’re willing to invest some effort yourself to grow. Managers know hiring is hard, and if you’ve been a good employee, I think they often are willing to invest in you.

If they’re not, then many you ought to think about that a bit and find out what you can do better so that they will invest in you. Not everyone makes it through corporate transformations, but many do if they are flexible and put in some effort.

Steve Jones

About way0utwest

Editor, SQLServerCentral
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