What will IT careers look like in the future? Does each developer need to have training in automation, or will individual training sessions be enough? Do you need to become a data crawler in order to learn the ropes of IT Security? Do you need to complete a Master’s in IT Architecture to have a say in Artificial Intelligence? Which learning formats are the right ones and what should I do if your employer is saving money on continuing education and training?

A peek into a crystal ball to predict IT careers in the next 10 years seems to be a daring endeavor, given the dynamics of the sector. It’s true that IT trends seem to set the direction. But as a developer, you’re not really able to master all of them at the same time, and you don’t have to. Nevertheless, the principle of lifelong learning in IT is a given. Especially employers and technical experts should have an interest in regular training. But which format is right for which topic and for my needs? What exactly is the difference between continuing education and continuing training? Do I always need a certificate at the end which proves that I’ve completed training? How sustainable is participation in continuing training events, and how do certifications and diplomas affect my market value? In any case, continuing education and training is a giant market with extensive offers, a variety of learning formats, and an enormous price spread. Before you decide on an effective education or training program, you need to do extensive research. That is unless your employer already has a sophisticated personnel development system, which regularly keeps you as the employee up to date on individual and general continuing education offers and trains you both in technical expertise as well as soft skills.

However, many developers often experience that personnel development is not sufficiently future-oriented and either only provides general offers or that the budget for individual measures is insufficient. HR managers are often overwhelmed by the know-how of the IT trends that are appearing on the horizon faster and faster. What should I do as an IT expert to make myself fit for the future?/p>

First of all, you should talk to your supervisor during an employee appraisal about your professional and personal development. Such an employee appraisal should take place once a year – possible topics in this regard include the following:

  • What topics does your supervisor see for the coming years?
  • Which technology shows a promising future?
  • Which skills build on your existing competencies and where do you need to acquire basic knowledge first?
  • Does the company intend to bring in specialist knowledge through new hires from outside, or should the existing knowledge of current employees be developed and expanded?

To this end, you should also prepare a plan for yourself as to which trends or technologies you would like to tackle in expanding your own competence and how you can best acquire the necessary knowledge. For example, the learning formats shown in Table 1 are provided for this purpose.

Learning on the job The job gives you the opportunity to familiarize yourself with a new topic as part of a project or task. You have the possibility to exchange ideas with internal and external experts here. Learning takes place in the course of daily work and extends the horizon of experience by trying new things out and gaining a deeper understanding.
Learning along the job The employee attends classroom training or online training during working hours or takes part in a conference.
Learning off the job The employer releases the employee from work for a fixed period of time so that the employee can attend continuing training, which usually also ends with an examination (e.g. studies, technical expert, certification, etc.).
Blended Learning The employee initially takes part in online training (possibly with several modules) to acquire the basic knowledge that is required to attend classroom training. The employee then attends training at an academy or internally, which builds on the previously acquired basic knowledge and expands expertise with practical elements.

If you agree with your supervisor on special training or further education measures in the most suitable learning format, the costs and the assumption of costs by the employer will still need to be clarified. This usually requires coordination with the human resources department. It is common in many companies for employees to sign a commitment to remain with the company in the case of particularly cost-intensive continuing training. The employee agrees to continue working for the company for at least a specified period after completing further training, the costs of which have been borne in full or in large part by the employer. This is to prevent well-trained employees from subsequently transferring their knowledge to a competitor who may recruit them for a higher salary. It can also be agreed that the costs have to be paid back proportionately in the event of earlier employment termination.

But what do certificates and training courses actually give you when it comes to increasing your own market value as an employee? Can you expect a salary increase if you have attended a training course that is supported or even assigned by the employer? Not necessarily. The employer will view employee training as a sustainable investment that ensures the competitiveness of the company, but also as an investment which also has to pay off first. Training offers are also often sold as a motivation factor for employees. Participation in training courses, conferences, and specialist forums is also a welcome change for employees, where they can not only continue their professional training, but also network and exchange knowledge on a personal level. This exchange among experts is particularly valued in IT and is expected by expert colleagues, such as clients and employers.

You can only expect a readjustment of your salary if any training is accompanied by an expansion of your own area of activity or responsibility. So, for example, if the purpose of continuing training is to prepare you for a leadership role or is even a prerequisite for the next career stage, then you can discuss a salary increase. Everything else is a matter of negotiation and depends on how much financial leeway your supervisor has in developing employee salaries. This point should also be discussed with your supervisor before you decide to take part in a training course, so as not to create false expectations and experience disappointments.

Finally, there is the consideration of the current IT skills that will be in demand in the future and on which you should concentrate during your further development. It is not possible to put IT trends at the forefront here; rather, training courses should always build on existing skills and expand them. Above all, IT should not only focus on technical training, but also develop soft skills: How do I manage defeats? How do I productively bring different characters together in agile teams? How can I easily convey complex content? Such topics, which expand social skills above all, should not be lacking in a training plan for developers.

Nevertheless, you should keep an eye on the trends and get a holistic overview by for example attending conferences or by thoroughly reading business publications. Based on this, you should define your personal development plan with individual measures, divided into technical training, methodological training and measures to expand social skills. The individual measures should go hand in hand and be aimed at a corresponding goal; for example, future collaboration on IT projects with a new technology focus, assuming management responsibility, or preparing for the introduction of a new IT strategy.

The range of training measures for the further development of IT experts is confusing and complex. A detailed plan for individual development is therefore essential. Simply working through training curricula makes less sense. Unfortunately, in practice, you usually find that developers are sporadically sent to individual training courses or, in the best case, may also regularly take part in IT conferences. A combination of different learning modules based on a personnel development plan would be the most effective way. Talk to your supervisor about this during your next employee appraisal and prepare convincingly arguments. And should your employer not be eager to listen about continuing education and training, take fate into your own hands. Invest out of your own pocket and, if necessary, also invest your free time in your personal development, which may then pay off again with a new employer. Also, inquire about the options for using educational leave for personal development. In some German Federal states, employees are even entitled to up to 10 days of educational leave. For information on requirements and offers you can for example use the search engine of the German education server for continuing education courses (https://www.iwwb.de).

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