November 23, 2023

Shortage of professionals? 12 tips for the postgraduate training of IT professionals

Can further training act as a miracle cure to counteract the shortage of skilled labour? We get to the bottom of this question in today's Insights article.


In an era when the shortage of skilled workers has become one of the most pressing challenges for companies, the question arises: can advanced training act as a miracle cure to counteract this shortage? The need to find and retain qualified IT professionals requires both innovative and long-term approaches to professional development. In this article, I will present 12 (+bonus tip) essential tips for advanced training of IT professionals – these not only help to counteract skills shortages and "skill gaps", but also intensify the skills and a bond between your teams.

Requirement Analysis

Before planning for the future, it is first necessary to take stock of the present. An in-depth needs assessment is existential to identify the gap between your IT teams' current skills and the skills they need. It's not just about cataloguing existing knowledge, but also about identifying and forecasting future requirements to keep pace with technological developments. Here, plan as long term as possible into the future, i.e. 10 years and upwards, and counteract possible "skills gaps".
It is also very helpful to collaborate with team leaders and key people to get a detailed picture of the current skills and the necessary skills. Then analyse existing projects, technology stacks and your IT strategy to better assess future needs. This can be done, for example, through employee surveys, performance appraisals and workshops.

Individual Development Paths

Individual development paths not only benefit employees, but also advance the company. By taking a personalised approach to advanced training, you can ensure that the skills acquired are not only in line with corporate goals, but also with individuals' career goals. This contributes to the employee experience and employee retention and promotes a culture of lifelong learning and corporate learning. To do this, identify not only needed hard skills, but more importantly, include soft skills and management skills in the development paths to shape executives of tomorrow. As we pointed out in the previous article, it is the soft skills that define the successful IT professionals of tomorrow.

Flexible learning Formats

In today's connected world, where remote working and flexible working hours are increasingly becoming the norm, they can no longer avoid flexible learning formats. Digitised content, accessible via learning management systems or cloud platforms, allows employees to continue their education regardless of time and place. E-learning modules, digital workshops and webinars allow learning material to be divided up and thus integrated into the regular working day. This promotes a constant learning culture without significantly interrupting the flow of work. So-called "microlearning" apps such as Sparks, EdApp or 360learning also fit well into our fragmented everyday life thanks to their flexibility and modularity.

Practice-oriented Learning

However, dry theory does not add value. Practice-based learning ensures that new knowledge is not only understood theoretically but can also be applied effectively. Therefore, implement training measures directly in real projects to consolidate what you have learned and create immediate added value. Make it even more exciting by initiating internal projects or hackathons that focus on new technologies, methods or processes. Practical workshops in which problem solutions or new concepts are worked out directly on a concrete example anchor the new knowledge more effectively and create immediately visible results. Hackathons can be used at the same time to attract young IT professionals and talent.

Mentoring and Coaching

It doesn't always have to be advanced training. A mentorship programme can be beneficial for both experienced professionals and new employees. Mentors can share their experience and knowledge, while mentees bring fresh perspectives and new ideas. Ensure that the goals and expectations of all parties are clear and encourage open dialogue between the pairs.
Coaching can help develop both professional and personal skills by helping employees identify and work on their strengths and weaknesses. It also includes helping staff to recognise and manage conflicts. This has the greater effect of strengthening the team and promoting diversity and inclusion as valuable resources. Again, regular check-ins, feedback sessions and providing resources for individual development help ( item 2).  
If possible, provide a platform for your employees to share their mentoring experiences and learn and grow with others – new skills and ideas may even emerge here. Providing such resources will enable your employees to perform at their best and continue to create a climate of team building, respect and mutual support.


IT certifications are a measurable proof of a professional's skills in a specific area and are valued by employees as well as IT companies and service providers. Therefore, there is a corresponding demand in the market, which can quickly compensate for the cost of such certifications.

Encourage your employees to pursue certification by, for example, covering the costs of exams and preparation courses. Certification programmes, such as those from Cisco, Microsoft or SAP, are a recognition of the expertise of your employees and at the same time a direct added value for your company. The experience gained in the certification process and the knowledge can in turn be shared with colleagues via an internal platform.

Soft Skills Training

Like I said, in our last article I went into detail about the importance of soft skills in the IT of the future. Although technical skills are the foundation, soft skills should not be neglected as they are essential for teamwork, internal and external communication and project management. Therefore, promote advanced training in areas such as communication, conflict resolution, leadership and emotional intelligence. Workshops and seminars can help train such competencies in practical scenarios. A balanced combination of technical know-how and interpersonal skills leads to a more harmonious work environment and more effective teamwork. Time management also falls under the heading of soft skills.

Conferences and Networking Events

Attending conferences, seminars and networking events allows your IT professionals to keep up with the latest trends and innovations in the industry and make valuable contacts. Encouraging participation in such events not only serves the individual development of employees, but also enables the transfer of knowledge within the company when participants share the insights they have gained with the teams. Although this requires a financial investment, the resulting networks, insights and increased knowledge are often of greater value.

Technology Partnerships and Collaborations

Encourage partnerships with technology providers, research institutes or other companies to enable an exchange of knowledge and resources. Technology partnerships can provide exclusive access to expertise, training resources and new technologies, while collaborations with universities or research institutes can bring new perspectives and innovative ideas. Joint projects, workshops or events with external partners can also provide fresh impetus and broaden your team's skills. Not to mention that it can also help companies find new talent or employees.

Gamification and Contests

Incorporating gamification elements into learning platforms and training initiatives can significantly increase participant engagement and motivation. Integrating game-based elements such as scoring systems, leaderboards or rewards makes the learning process more fun and stimulating. But gamification is much more – it is about the balance between the extrinsic motivations just mentioned (rankings, incentives) as well as intrinsic motivations. In addition, there is the balance of the so-called "black hat" and "white hat" motivation ... not a trivial topic, which is why I have dealt with this topic in detail and written down my findings in two articles:

The art of gamification – Part I

How does Gamification function in the Corporate Context? – Gamification Part II

Competitions, such as the aforementioned hackathons or coding challenges, not only promote teamwork and collaborative learning, but also allow participants to demonstrate their skills in a hands-on environment.

Encouraging personal initiative

Encourage employees to take responsibility for their own professional development by creating an environment that supports and rewards initiative. Provide resources such as access to online courses, reference books or workshops, and perhaps even paid time off for training. An annual learning budget for each staff member can further encourage initiative and allow professionals to individually and self-directly expand their skills and discover new things. We currently see learning budgets frequently listed as benefits in job advertisements – a trend that we advocate as a recruitment consultancy.

Continuous feedback and adaptation

I've already mentioned it on a few items, but I want to say it again emphatically: Create a culture of continuous feedback where employees receive regular feedback on their performance and progress. Use evaluations and feedback sessions to measure and adjust the success of training. Continuous dialogue with your employees makes it possible to design the learning and development process flexibly and always adapt it to current and future requirements. This way, your professional development concept always remains relevant and purposeful.

Bonus tip: Advanced Training for Career Changers

Especially in times when soft skills are becoming more and more important in IT, it really makes sense to include lateral entrants on the recruiting list. Large companies are already making use of this by providing free boot camps. Bootcamps are intensive training and development courses that promote skills on the fly. They are also more practical than university studies. The qualified participants join the respective companies after successful completion.

Certainly, large companies have quite different resources at their disposal that SMEs often cannot muster. On the other hand, employment offices also offer the possibility of participating in bootcamps for jobseekers, so that the costs are not passed on to companies. And then there are also enough people who are willing to pay for a career change themselves. Look out for companies that offer bootcamps specifically for their requirements – because possible cooperations are also conceivable.

Another option is to offer interested career changers "low-level" IT positions, such as IT support or service desk. Here it is possible to test relatively safely and basically without additional costs how capable these people are for the wider IT environment. And whether they want to and can advance to "higher" IT positions. If ambitious or talented people are subsequently given the opportunities presented in this article (especially a mentorship), nothing more stands in the way of joint success.

If you want to bring change to your company, start with our 12 tips for a solid foundation.


12 tips for the further training of IT specialists
Can further training act as a miracle cure to counteract the shortage of skilled labour? We get to the bottom of this question in today's Insights article.
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