The global tech skills shortage has created a situation where millions of unfilled tech positions are waiting to be filled by qualified individuals. According to the IMF, by 2030, the global tech skills shortage will reach 85 million and represent a staggering $8.5 trillion in lost revenue each year.
All this means that lucrative opportunities await those interested in reskilling to high-paying, high-demand tech jobs. There are also a wide variety of training options available — the challenge lies in finding the right one for the individual’s needs.
Universities and colleges offer long, 4-year Computer Science and Software Engineering degrees for those with the grades, budget, and patience to complete them. Obviously, for people who wish to reskill — often in mid-life and with the immediate intention of improving their salaries and lifestyle — putting everything on hold for four years is usually not an option.
There are also plenty of readily available, relatively low-cost Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) that focus on certain knowledge domains, coding languages, and other topics. Microsoft’s global initiative is a great example of MOOCs geared towards teaching digital skills to 25 million people worldwide. The initiative offers free access to content from Microsoft subsidiaries like LinkedIn and GitHub, alongside a Microsoft certification and access to LinkedIn job hunting tools.
Short, intense bootcamps, as well as longer training programs that take 6-12 months to complete, can be found in most urban centers. While some training courses can be completed easily, by merely attending class, others apply more rigor and assessments to make sure students qualify for graduation.
With so many different training options available, individuals can pick and choose the right one for them based on their own preferences. Some who like the flexibility that on-demand programs provide may want to go with low-budget options like MOOCs, while others might prefer shorter bootcamps that last just a few weeks.
Those who are truly focused on developing a tech career ignore all of those factors and focus on just one critical element, employability. They know that employers care less about certifications nowadays, theoretic credentials, or academic degrees. When it comes to hiring for tech positions, employers care about one thing more than anything — a candidate’s ability to get the job done in a professional manner. They want to see real work examples that showcase a candidate’s tech skills and capabilities.
According to Teresa Dietrich, CTO of StackOverflow, her ideal candidate must demonstrate attitude and aptitude to get hired: “When I am making hiring decisions, my first criteria is a small number of technical requirements: specific technologies, languages, and expertise. But for the broader pool of candidates who satisfy those basics, the majority of my hiring decision is based on the demonstrated attitude and aptitude of the applicant.”
A popular Udemy instructor, Imtiaz Ahmad, posted this video that deals with a common phenomenon in the tech industry – that entry-level programmer positions require 2 years of experience, which candidates who come fresh from university or training obviously don’t have. In the video, Ahmad encourages candidates to still apply, and demonstrate their experience from whatever coding initiatives they’ve had the opportunity to participate in.
When discussing interview best practices, Neil Roseman, former Technology VP for both Amazon and Zynga, mentioned that he pays attention to candidates’ area of focus. If it’s coding, he asks them a coding question based on their experience. His recruiting rules also include making sure to require candidates to write code, and then dig into algorithms, data structures, code organization, and simplicity. He also checks for soft skills. Only candidates with actual coding and teamwork experience could pass Roseman’s interviews.
Syk Houdeib, a Madrid-based front-end developer, argued on his Medium post that you don’t need a degree or a bootcamp to get your first programming job “with no experience”, like he did. Actually, Houdeib probably meant with no work-experience, as his coding experience and learning tracker, neatly organized on GitHub, demonstrated well how he codes in practice, and his code – together with his resume and soft skills – impressed his employer to take him on board.
Hiring managers look for much more than theoretical knowledge in a programming language or expertise in a specific tech product. A highly skilled developer who lacks communications and teamwork skills won’t get too far. It takes a full team capable of closely working together to build even the simplest of digital products. Soft skills like teamwork, communication, leadership, and problem-solving — and demonstrated experience practicing such skills – are just as important as knowledge in coding languages. MOOC trainees might not be able to answer a question like “tell me about a time where you coded as part of a team.”
Smart individuals already know that the proof is in the pudding. Their best shot to demonstrate that they have both the attitude and aptitude to succeed in tech is to show hiring managers real-life projects and lines of code that they’ve completed by working with others in a team effort.
The question remains, how are tech reskillers — those who left a previous profession to pivot to a career in tech — supposed to display job readiness for tech positions if they’ve never had the chance to work on a real-life project?
The answer lies in finding training programs that balance frontal lectures with actual exercises, projects, and workshops that give students the opportunity to put their newly acquired knowledge to work.
Project-based learning is an innovative teaching method in which students learn by working on authentic, engaging real-world problems from their studies. Through project-based learning, students work on projects for extended periods of time to demonstrate their skills and knowledge. This enables them to develop deep domain knowledge as well as some soft skills.
When looking for the right tech training program, tech reskillers should make sure that the programs they pursue include actual coding work and final projects that would allow them to demonstrate to hiring managers real code and tech skills as proof of their capabilities.
Wawiwa Tech Training is an Israeli tech education provider that believes in the effectiveness and necessity of hands-on training. Their proprietary Job-Effective Training (JET) design training methodology offers a 30/70 blend of frontal lectures and, mostly, hands-on work.
According to Eran Lasser, founder and CEO of Wawiwa Tech Training, project-based training gives hiring managers a snapshot of a candidate’s potential value: “Wawiwa focuses on preparing our students for a career in tech. Having reskilled over 50,000 tech professionals during my career, I can tell you that while tech knowledge is important for recruitment, experience is much more important for employers. That’s why our pedagogical model leans heavily towards project-based learning. Having an impressive portfolio of projects that showcase students’ abilities, and teamwork experience they can talk about in vivid details, helps our graduates more than anything in getting the tech job they desire.”
To further this end, Wawiwa integrates “Bring It Together” (BIT) projects towards the end of each tech training program. The projects integrate the knowledge and skills that the students have learned during the program. BIT projects are usually done in pairs or bigger teams to help students develop important soft skills like collaboration and teamwork while coding and testing the functionality of their applications.
When it comes to getting an interview, a certificate is nice to have, but for actual recruitment, employers look for hands-on experience as a glimpse into the true abilities of the candidate.