The Key to Effective Demand-Driven Workforce Development? Start with the Doers

In recent years, the concept of “workforce development” has gained considerable momentum. Organizations across all verticals and of all sizes are increasingly investing in training and leadership development programs that provide their employees with the hard and soft skill sets needed to accelerate their careers and more positively impact the organizations and communities they serve. In fact, in 2018, U.S. organizations spent $87.6 billion on training, evidencing the importance that is being placed on training and development.

But at the same time, all too often, workforce development programs are originating from training organizations rather than the frontline technology managers and employees who understand their own needs best. Often, training managers are identifying what they believe their employees need most by way of training, creating programs to support these needs and then embracing a “train and pray” mentality.

The result?

A sweeping number of futile training programs that do little to support the actual needs and interests of employees.

In technology departments, this “train and pray” approach is even more dangerous as we cannot afford to swing and miss at technology training needs, especially when there is mounting pressure for today’s technology workforce to be strong technically, as well as business-oriented. Instead, we need to better understand the specific needs of our technology workforce and craft the educational opportunities that empower them to reach a heightened level of job mastery. In short, we need to lean on our technology practitioners, doers and leaders to tell us what they need instead of guessing it ourselves.

At the Tech Collective, we are committed to listening to technology leaders and their workforce to conceptualize demand-driven training programs that meet their needs and the needs of their companies. An example of this commitment is how our customer service training got developed in 2018.

A Tech Collective member company needed to improve the level of customer service its support team provided to clients. They estimated that more than 100 employees would need this training. The Tech Collective worked with their management team to conceptualize a training program that would equip their service reps with tool sets to be more empathetic and compassionate, become better listeners, improve their problem-solving skills and become more client-oriented. We then worked with the New England Institute of Technology (NEIT) to develop a 16-hour curriculum and training program specifically designed around these needs. While we worked through the development process, we socialized this training with other members and came to find that a number of other companies also had the need for a similar type of training program. We knew we were onto a winning idea. We have already trained more than 100 people and we have  more training sessions in the works for the next 12 months.

When organizations and leaders create demand-driven training, our workforce and greater community stand to benefit a great deal. Specifically:

  • Our organizations and candidates experience accelerated hiring processes as technology workers better understand themselves and how their specific skill sets align to different businesses
  • Our technology workforce becomes more well-rounded, with the technical, business and leadership skills needed to excel
  • We begin to develop the next-generation of technology leaders that will be effectively positioned to replace the retiring workforce

In the coming year, we are doubling down on our commitment to providing demand-driven workforce development. (Our recent press release provides further detail on how we are doing this; click here.) From diversifying our Board of Directors to creating a number of new program steering committees to increasing our use of surveys, the Tech Collective is committed to hearing from YOU about what you need to better succeed in your career. You can drop us a line at any time by clicking here.

We believe that demand-driven workforce development is about creating programming and opportunities that engage, enable and empower the technology workforce. We look forward to what we will continue to co-create together.