Industry-Based IT Training
Right now, there is a growing demand for learning emerging technologies-driven IT skills. Along with the sheer fascination that always surrounds emerging trends, workplaces provide a greater than ever range of opportunities for those who are competent in cybersecurity, data science, automation, digital transformation, blockchain technologies, and other relatively novel tools, technologies, and skills.
Addressing The IT Training Paradigm Shift
Such advanced technical skills can only be learned in either an industry-based setting or in a setting that can provide complete simulation of an industry environment. The main objective of this article is to outline five guiding principles for building and managing industry-based/industry-simulated online training programs.
Industry-Based IT Training And Industry Simulation: Online Platform Deployment
As far as providing learners with practical hands-on experience is concerned, no training settings can be more hands-on than industry-based training (aka industry-based learning). Industry-based training involves approaching learning goals from an industry perspective. The learning should take place in an environment that is either an industry-based setting, or a simulated environment that provides a complete, or at least a near-complete, equivalent of real workplaces the the technologies fit into. Choices of the training platforms can vary from ones that are run by providers of IT tools and applications such as Tableau, AWS, and Microsoft’s Power BI, to purpose-built platforms available from university, colleges, and private training providers. In ideal scenarios, where relevant partnerships with industry enterprises can be arranged, the training could be done collaboratively with those respective enterprises, thus creating a win-win situation for both the learners/training providers and the companies involved, as they will be able to benefit from the “fruits of the learners’ labor.”
Industry Based Training: 5 Guiding Principles
1. Ensuring Access To The Technologies, Tools, And Expertise Required
Creating a virtual IT learning space takes more than having course content and assessments developed. The online learning experience won’t be done justice to if it does not involve technologies and tools that are in demand. If the training is run with a focus on a specific industry, such as Big Data analytics for banking or cloud security management for schools training courses, learners need to have access to tools and platforms that meet industry-specific standards. They must also be able to learn not only how to use these tools but also the business and technical processes associated with them.
2. Simulating Rather Than “Adopting” Workplace Projects
As stated above, in a perfect world, learners need to be linked (via the online platforms) to the companies they are to do work for. However, where learning is done on an “imaginary job’” rather than a real one, there should still be no compromise on the standards and outcomes. The very concept behind the on-the-job training approach involves providing a real experience that is equivalent to an internship, rather than a yet another course in using the technologies. The final portfolio produced (e.g., an automated business process) has to be developed to the same standard as the hypothetical workplaces require.
3. Validation Of The Training Outcomes
The learning activities need to be set up in such a way that, by the time the training is completed, the learners will have well-documented evidence of their professional skills and capabilities. Any assessments undertaken as part of the training program must be co-authored (if not fully authored), and verified by industry professionals, rather than trainers. Where applicable, successful ‘‘graduation’’ from a program should involve not only the obtaining of a well-recognized certificate of completion, but also an opportunity to create a professional portfolio. Such a portfolio would be the best possible evidence of the learners’ accomplishments and capabilities.
4. Regular Reviews Of Projects And Technologies Deployed
Today’s workplaces keep undergoing technology upgrades. New technologies and tools are embraced all the time, with the in-use ones receiving ongoing ‘’face-lifts’’ and customizations. Whenever such upgrades become available, the training programs need to be updated accordingly to ensure the currency and relevance of the content learned. Furthermore, this is one area where many university and college training programs fail! Courses get developed based on the technologies available at the time of inception. By the time the course gets the green light to go ahead and all of the tools required become available, the offerings are no longer in line with the latest technology developments that are emerging worldwide, and in some instances, are already outdated from day one. In today’s day and age, regular training program reviews involving industry experts are truly essential, and so are course/training upgrades based on these reviews.
5. Collaboration With Industry Bodies And Enterprises
It hard to deliver industry-based training without…industry! The collaboration needs to go well beyond trivial endorsements and accreditation and involve full-scale partnerships, with industry leaders getting invitations to join in the delivery of the training, initiating projects that are focused on emerging technologies (aka, technologies of the future that are the ones that will be ‘’most wanted’’ by IT recruiters), and getting trainees to work with the companies, not upon completion of the training but as a part of the training. Given that the trainees are going to contribute to the organizations they are placed with, it is indeed a win-win scenario.
Closing Remarks: Riding The Technology Wave
The concept of on-the-job learning has always been utilized in many industries, including the ones that are not even technology intensive. It is rather transparent that for those who are delivering technology-fueled training programs, eLearning and workplace-focused approaches are the ways to go. There is little need to justify the benefits of the delivery of IT training via dedicated online platforms. The real challenge is not in setting up those platforms and making them fully functional, but in ensuring that the training delivered is in line with the five guiding principles outlined above. After all, the very objective of getting trained in emerging technologies is to be able to deploy these technologies in workplaces, and this is achievable only if the training is carried out either on the very same platforms where real work is taking place (as in cases of Tableau or AWS), or, at very least, on online training platforms that emulate real-life workplace setting, technologies, and requirements in full.