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07 April, 2022

As per statistics, organizations across the globe annually spend an average of $359 billion on the training and development of their workforce.

What is surprising, though, is that even after spending such a massive amount on employee learning, over 75% of 1,500 managers surveyed from more than 50 organizations shared their dissatisfaction with their company's Learning & Development (L&D) function.

Further, 70% of employees report that they don't have any kind of mastery of the skills needed to do their jobs.

The numbers clearly suggest that when it comes to learning and development, most training initiatives in today's organizations are ineffective due to flawed content and the purpose and timing of training.

This blog aims to delve deeper into current trends in L&D and why a standardized L&D program might not work for everyone, especially software developers; what specific skillsets they need to see success in their roles; and which delivery methods of learning programs are most effective for them in the hybrid work scenario.

Latest Trends in Learning and Development and Why They Don't Work for Everyone

In this section, we will discuss some of the key learning trends in the software development area and why they might not work for the specific learning needs of software developers.

  • Lack of Skill Assessment

The skills of software developers on any team vary considerably. While some developers may have many years of experience, others are quite new to the field.

However, in order to save costs and resources, organizations generally skip the important step of assessing their workforce individually before developing learning and development programs. This is surely a huge mistake, as, without skills data, no curriculum will fully account for a developer team's diverse learning needs.

This often leads to seasoned developers sitting through training courses that cover topics they already have knowledge about or junior developers who get completely lost trying to understand concepts beyond their grasp, thus wasting time and money.

  • Relying Heavily on Theory

Simply explaining concepts to developers isn't ideal for new skill development. Nevertheless, most software developer training initiatives rely heavily on lectures, especially prerecorded videos.

This is an unsuitable approach and is contrary to studies that show active learning is the best way for learners in any field to learn new skills and concepts.

Developers want the hands-on experience of creating things in reality. Therefore, it is important to focus on building a curriculum that allows developers to use tools to build functional applications.

  • Lack of Continuous Development Initiatives

In the software development industry, managers usually think of one-off training as a means to expand their teams' abilities and solve their problems forever. Hence, they make heavy use of off-the-shelf modules and video training, preventing the chance of providing adequate continuing development opportunities to their teams.

However, effective team development requires consistent finetuning to keep pace with the rapidly evolving technology. This requires companies to plan more than a single set of curricula.

Learning and training programs should fit into long-term development plans that enable developers to grow their skills sustainably and find different new ways to contribute to company success.

Why Generalized Training Initiatives Do Not Work, and How to Make Training More Effective for Software Developers

The need for software developers today is to keep up with industry knowledge and new technologies to improve overall productivity. And to facilitate this, software development organizations must have an in-depth understanding of such technologies and be fully adaptable to rapid industry changes.

In general, technology-enabled approaches to learning are considered flexible enough to support the knowledge/skills development of software developers. Hence, most technical online learning platforms use traditional learning techniques, which are not the most effective method to improve software developers' current knowledge and skills.

Udemy, Coursera, Codecademy, Skillsoft, and Simplilearn are online learning platforms that offer mobile educational content capabilities. The courses provided specifically to software developers use blended learning techniques that incorporate traditional classroom settings within an e-learning environment.

For example, some technology skills platforms allow software developers to select topics related to improving their current skillsets and knowledge. This form of online training help developers focuses on what will benefit their technical skills.

However, developers must anticipate specific topics and areas to pursue within the learning platform's library. This gap in relevant educational content can negatively impact a developer's productivity since the educational content is not situational to their software development work environment.

Overall, online learning platforms are known to provide situated learning capabilities; however, they use several traditional learning settings that require an instructor and out-of-context experience.

To help improve the knowledge and skills of software developers, training and development teams must focus on different learning methods that engage a developer's problem-solving abilities.

Also Read: How to Hire Software Developers [2021 Updated]

Essential Skills for Software Developers, and How to Upskill Them

Here, we list some of the essential skills (soft and hard skills) that every software programmer should know or learn in 2022.

Essential Soft Skills For Developers

Upskilling software developers today is not limited to coding languages and frameworks. Improving soft skills is equally important to excel in the field of software development.

Some of the most important soft skills developers need to develop include:

  • Logical reasoning

Software developers need to possess strong logical reasoning abilities, which can allow them to use their skills and knowledge to solve coding issues quickly.

Whether they are front-end or back-end developers, using logic in programming is an essential aspect of optimizing the code and is a soft skill that makes a great difference.

  • Time management

Software developers must have the ability to keep their teams on track to meet deadlines.

Since an increasing number of software development team members work in different time zones, they need to be fully equipped to manage lots of moving parts to keep their projects on track.

  • Numerical ability

Numerical ability refers to an individual's speed and accuracy while solving simple arithmetic problems.

Having this skill allows developers to perceive/process numbers and related functions to perform basic arithmetic operations while maintaining complete accuracy and speed in doing calculations.

  • Communication skills

Software developers in any organization must be good at communicating as they need to be able to effectively interface with other stakeholders, including non-technical counterparts, to be able to ask for support where needed, and delegate tasks to team members in a way that makes them feel both valued and engaged with their work. 

  • Collaboration and teamwork

Whether one is a front-end, back-end, full-stack, or DevOps developer, collaboration and teamwork are essential skills to have.

The teamwork here doesn't refer to agreeing with everyone about everything but finding a balance and using their own soft and hard skills to make the project successful for every team member.

Essential Hard Skills for Developers

Some of the important technical skills that software developers need to have include:

  • Coding languages

Coding languages are primarily the different types of source code a developer can write for a software program.

It is therefore important for software developers to specialize in at least one type of coding language to increase the number of job opportunities they can have access to.

Some of the common coding languages that developers need to learn are Python, C++, JavaScript, HyperText Markup Language (HTML), Java, and Cascading Styles Sheets (CSS).

  • IT automation

IT automation is considered one of the most important technical skills for software developers.

This category of skills includes the expertise of a developer in automating digital processes and workflows.

  • Data structures and algorithms

Data structures refer to different organizational methods for storing information in a database. Algorithms describe the process that is required to complete certain tasks.

Software developers need to have a good knowledge of data structures and algorithms to determine which combination can help them optimize information in a program's code.

Several relevant courses help developers learn how to build and implement data structures in a program. Some of these certification courses include:

  • Data Structures and Algorithms Specialization by Coursera

  • Professional Certificate in Data Structures and Algorithms by EdX

  • JavaScript Algorithms and Data Structures Masterclass by Udemy
  • Data Structures and Algorithms Nanodegree Certification by Udacity

 

  • Database knowledge

Databases in software development are the electronic systems that allow individuals to properly organize and structure information, particularly the records for an organization.

Software developers must be equipped with ways to search for information, input new lines of data in a table format, as well as update a system with new materials. 

  • Testing procedures

Every software program out there requires an intricate testing process before a company can release it to end-users. This involves using a range of digital tools to ensure that a product functions well and fulfills its design requirements.

As organizations often design their testing processes based on a few critical components, software developers need to have the ability to understand fundamental aspects before applying to job positions.

Specific Upskilling Methods for Developers

Some of the specific upskilling methods for software developers that your L&D program can have and your teams can add to their strategy include:

  • Department-level workshops, including presentations and practical exercises
  • Financing the participation of your devs team in external IT conferences, workshops, or meetups
  • Another area to focus on is promoting self-learning by understanding the root cause of the software developer's mistake and how to fix it. This can involve providing tailored and relevant links to information that teach developers how to fix specific problems identified in the files. 
  • Encouraging your team of software developers to set growth goals for themselves through their department-level mentors
  • Making sure to assign them challenging projects to work on that can adequately test their skills
  • Encouraging participation in Internet boot camps that teach/introduce supplementary IT skills

Apart from these, software developers should be provided with different chances to collaborate and seek help from senior executives.

It is important to identify mentoring opportunities within the organization by recommending other professional software developers that have successfully resolved similar issues in the past.

Encouraging mentoring allows your organization to benefit from an increase in productivity and ensures that senior developers' guidance offers junior developers the opportunity for hands-on learning. It is one of the most effective and quick ways to improve problem-solving skills and retain knowledge.

Best Learning Program Delivery Methods for Software Developers

When it comes to selecting learning delivery methods for developers, the best option is to understand their abilities and level of proficiency by conducting a skills assessment. 

Skills assessment here refers to evaluating an individual's ability to perform a specific skill/set of skills. Typically, it evaluates skills specific to a job/role. In most cases, skill assessment captures the level of proficiency for each of the skills to let the L&D teams know which participants are new to the skill and which ones have mastered it. 

It is important to note that skills assessments may be conducted either in person and/or online and may take the form of a test, simulation, questionnaire, or observation. Once the skill assessment is completed, here are some of the specific learning delivery methods you can use specifically for software developers for maximum impact:

  • Guided learning

Instead of providing training at specific intervals, guided learning embeds continuous learning for software developers into a live application.

For instance, screen pop-ups that support rapid, context-sensitive, and personalized learning are an excellent example of this kind of guided learning. This is especially applicable for software developer training, functional leads, cross-functional teams, IT, and end-user training.

  • Applying learning to real-world situations

To get the maximum benefits out of a training module, it is important to ensure that the learner can apply the methodology internally by bringing real-world projects to workshops to apply what's learned in real-time, cut down the feedback loop, and deliver better business outcomes.

  • Peer learning

Peer learning offers software developers an excellent way to support rapid, just-in-time learning while also strengthening the existing understanding of concepts.

This can be achieved by establishing an online marketplace or peer-learning workshops to connect developers willing to teach/share specific skills with colleagues. 

  • Short, micro-courses

Another excellent learning delivery method for software developers is providing them with short, bite-sized learning opportunities, which can take the form of digestible, short courses on various topics of relevance to software professionals' immediate challenges or opportunities.

  • Personalized content

Leveraging today's technologies, you can personalize training modules so that they adapt lessons based on developer performance, thus tailoring content to each one of their unique needs, learning style, and delivery method.

  • Ongoing support

Offering developers further ongoing support after a learning session via multiple modes such as voice messaging, instant messaging, and chatbots is a great way to ensure that they can apply their learnings to specific challenges.

To Conclude

With technology evolving at a rapid pace, the skills gaps can quickly sneak up on software development teams. Although this requires an urgent need for training and development, organizations shouldn't rush the process and implement stopgap solutions. 

Instead, the need for the learning and development teams is to explore common oversights and get rid of generalized learning solutions that prevent them from designing training that delivers long-term results.

Leveraging the above best practices can allow you to create a powerful L&D program for your software development team and ensure that developers' skills gaps are obsolete within no time.

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Tanvi Sharma
Tanvi Sharma
Tanvi Sharma is a Content Strategist at iMocha. A seasoned marketer and branding consultant, she likes sewing stories together to help brands find their true and unique voice. A perfection enthusiast, she believes each and every word should serve a purpose while writing. When she’s not writing for work, she is writing fan fictions and theories, and volunteering at local animal shelters.
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Topics: L&D

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