With swathes of workers now in coronavirus lockdown, Matt Piddington, Commercial Director, Services, looks at how online learning and certification can help IT professionals gain highly sought-after skills while the pandemic enforces remote or reduced working.

As the lockdown continues, it’s become apparent that some roles lend themselves to remote working better than others. Sales teams and consultants may have made the move to home working seamlessly, while instructors and engineers might be finding it harder to keep productive while they’re in lockdown.

We have a duty of care to support all our people, continue to invest in them in a bid to continue to keep morale high, and maintain their productivity and engagement. So if skilled staff are sitting idle, could they use the slowdown to upskill? With more time on their hands, is now the perfect time to learn new workplace skills or increase technical capabilities?

Certifications help IT professionals develop in-demand skills, align with organisational needs, shorten turnaround times for customer projects, enhance their expertise, and advance their careers while improving their overall job performance. This can often lead to a competitive advantage for the individual and the employer – a win-win for both parties.

Mapping skills

Before embarking on a certification or any learning path, does the individual understand their level of technical competency? Do they understand how their skills align to the needs of the business? Do you? Have you mapped the skillset of your business to a recognised competency framework such as the Skills Framework For Information Age (SFIA) or the European Competency Framework (e-CF)?

These frameworks describe the skills and competencies required for roles involved in IT, digital transformation and software engineering, and by using them, organisations can achieve a consistent and integrated skills and people-management approach.

Many organisations fail to take the time to consider or prioritise skills that they need in their organisation to deliver not only the IT and digital transformation strategy, but also ensure they can meet the long-term needs of the business.

Learning delivery

Once you’ve identified and agreed the skills they need to develop, how will they develop their skills?

Most learning providers are now offering a comprehensive range of courses online, either in virtual classrooms or on-demand. Both provide a different format for attending courses where time, geographical location or the restrictions caused by Covid-19 limit access to effective training.

Virtual courses deliver the same quality content and subject matter expertise as an in-person classroom setting. There is no drop-off in quality. On-demand courses such as eLearning are effective at building emerging skills, but the lack of expert interaction and inability to tailor content to student needs gives virtual training a significant advantage when you need to build critical skills.

Partner enablement

From a vendor perspective, all the vendors we work with offer a comprehensive digital portfolio of enablement content through their partner portals. This enablement content is often free of charge and a great option for businesses who need to educate sales or engineering teams.

In addition to vendor offerings, there are many training providers and organisations that are offering free access to their digital learning portfolios during the lockdown.

These online options give both up-and-coming and experienced IT professionals the ability to get the certifications and skills they need in these crazy times. Now could be the time where you are developing that crucial capability to disrupt your competition.

Information for Westcon-Comstor Academy bookings

The safety and welfare of our employees and customers is of paramount importance to Westcon-Comstor Academy. We are committed to helping businesses and individuals impacted by COVID-19 to stay educated and productive. As of 9 March 2020, we have updated our terms to allow anybody who has booked a place on a classroom course to change to the virtual class running on the same date, at no additional charge. In the event that there is no virtual class available, customers can rearrange their class attendance with no cancellation charges or rescheduling fees.

To find your ideal accredited IT course, please visit our Academy. And share your home working insights and experiences #StaySafeConnectedSecure.

See how we delivered a masterclass in rapid home-working deployment.