With the growth of platforms such as Pluralsight, Udemy, Coursera, and others, junior developers are including more video training in their technical self-education. Video training can be an efficient method for teaching oneself the fundamentals of different technologies–however, it can be difficult to find videos covering intermediate and advanced topics. It is also challenging to find videos tailored to specific development stacks. Our data show that once developers are well into their careers, private ILT courses become as preferable as video training.
These data–coupled with our extensive experience in developer training–lead us to recommend that L&D managers adopt a blended learning strategy which combines reading with private, dedicated training courses, along with outlets for peer-to-peer mentoring and coaching (e.g., internal company meetups). Online technical libraries or video libraries such as Pluralsight are ideal resources to include in such a blended learning strategy.
Private, dedicated ILT courses of three to five days in length are rated by developers as the most effective way to learn. Of the developers who participated in a private ILT event over the past year, 83% rated it as an effective way to learn and adopt new technologies.
Based on the survey results, we recommend three-day courses as the most effective option in terms of cost, retention, and project schedules. In addition, we recommend that learning and development managers who strive to lower the cost of learning should avoid investing in mobile learning. While this segment is rapidly growing within the learning industry, 32% of developers and those in related roles rated mobile learning as their least favorite learning method.
Conferences represent a popular trend within the development community and indeed, some companies spend large portions of their training dollars on conferences, foregoing ILT, online libraries, and other learning solutions. However, our respondents rated conferences as their second least favorite learning method. Therefore, managers who plan to spend training dollars on conferences should view that investment as one which will boost employee morale and create technology awareness, rather than an investment in long-term productivity gains.
Developers seek out training for practical purposes. Over 55% say they seek out training in order to meet current or upcoming needs or to advance their careers. By increasing the learning solutions offered to the engineering staff, managers demonstrate a commitment to employee and organizational success.
DI regularly finds that a minimal learning investment of $800 to $1,800 per engineer per year delivers significant returns–as much as 20 to 30%–in employee morale and productivity gains.
Current Skill Gaps
Design Patterns and Architecture
We found a strong demand for high-level software engineering skills such as software architecture (55%), design patterns (52%), high scalability (40%), and developing secure code (40%). These results indicate that many developers want to take their software development knowledge to the next level. That is, they want the skills that will allow them to transition from developers/programmers to engineers/architects. This transition involves writing secure code that scales well and lends itself to collaboration.
Architectural skills are difficult to instill in developers, which may explain why the median salary for Software Architects is roughly $116,000–more than any other IT position. It is vital for organizations to focus on cultivating and retaining their Software Architects. Investment in software architecture training will both increase return on software investments and decrease the amount of rework which stems from poorly-designed applications.
High-Demand Programming Languages
Java continues its long streak as the number one language on the TIOBE Index and number 2 in the RedMonk rankings, and consequently, Java training remains in high demand–30% of developers would like Advanced Java training in the next 3-15 months and 28% desire Introductory Java training.
Many of the programming languages that developers want to learn are languages that have been popular for 15-20 years, but we’ve also discovered that developers want to learn two new languages– Go (29%) and Swift (20%).
Nearly half of the respondents are eager to learn and apply new NoSQL concepts and technologies such as MongoDB or RethinkDB. NoSQL (or “document store”) databases are relatively new to most organizations. We have found that one-day “NoSQL Concepts and Landscape” sessions offer a quick introduction and allow organizations to evaluate the impact of NoSQL as well as identify which specific tools and technologies to adopt.
CEB CIO Leadership Council recently released their annual Key Findings from the IT Budget Benchmark for 2015-2016. The nearly 160 organizations participating in the study represent nearly $40 billion in IT spending and these organizations grew their IT training budgets by 5.1% in 2015.
One way in which managers can increase learning opportunities for engineers without increasing training budgets is to decrease costs associated with operational overhead. Typically, 60-70% of a training budget is allocated to operational costs, including employees, learning management system (LMS) products, and collaboration products.
However, most development organizations already have informal collaboration and knowledge-sharing products in place, in the form of wikis, project-management tools, or other similar tools. Rather than investing in yet another collaboration product to help facilitate knowledge sharing within the organization, managers should leverage and formalize the tools already in place. This will reduce overhead and improve morale as the organization recognizes and embraces the tools their employees find useful.
Overall, the DI Developer Survey Report demonstrates that developers are already engaged in training, have clear areas of desired skill growth, and know which training methods are most effective in building their skills. By creating and implementing learning plans based on their development team’s needs, managers are more likely to help their organizations stay competitive and retain top talent.