Niamh O’Connor, Singlepoint’s Clients Services Manager, spoke to Róisín Kiberd from The Sunday Business Post about the need to keep upskilling as the speed of development accelerates.

Read the transcript of this interview below:

Amazon deploys to production every 11.6 seconds. Google is reported to change its search algorithm up to 600 times per year. Meanwhile at Netflix, engineers release code into production thousands of times each day.  Technology pauses for no one, and the skills required to keep up with it are in increasingly short supply. Up to 9,000 IT professionals are hired in Ireland every year, a demand only partly met by new graduates. The pressure is on for organisations to not only find highly skilled new hires, but to keep their existing workforce up to speed in an evolving landscape of opportunities and threats.

“If you look at Amazon Web Services, as one example, they come out with new upgrades constantly,” said Niamh O’Connor, Client Services Manager of Singlepoint, a tech consulting firm specialising in digital transformation and digital acceleration.

“You can go and do a certification every year, but if you don’t keep up to date with the way the technology is changing, your certificate will hardly be valid anymore.” Instead, Singlepoint seeks ways for IT professionals to continuously upskill.

“Years ago it was all online training, which could fit into someone’s working day and into their personal life, but now we’re finding people are struggling to make that time.” Instead, O’Connor recommended learning in short bursts, with courses where new skills are put into practice almost instantly: “We’re looking at intense training courses that are two or three days long, where someone is trained in a workshop environment, usually off-site, and completely immersed in what they’re doing.” Afterwards Singlepoint will assess progress made, and will recommend new training every six months.

Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all seminars dictating exactly how a manager/engineer/anything else should be. “At management training, people are given the opportunity to discuss problems they’re having, and to be open about where their struggles are,” O’Connor said. “We’ve also done communications training where people made videos delivering their presentation. Then we went through the video itself outlining where each person could improve.”

Not long ago, people were expected to upskill every two to three years. Today that pace is unfeasible, and infrequent: in-house training sessions are no longer enough. O’Connor said: “Considering that question of how long workplace skills actually last, the way technology is moving, it’s more like every four to six months.”

Not every organisation is prepared to face this new ‘always on’ reality but, according to O’Connor, today’s technological changes necessitate constant learning. “There’s always resistance,” she said, “but I think most companies we’ve dealt with so far have agreed with us that they’re lagging behind their competitors because of the systems they’re using, or the way in which they’re working.” It’s worth remembering, perhaps most importantly of all, that transformation isn’t simply a tech issue; it’s about individual employee skills, the goals of a team, and the overall structure of the workplace.

“If you would like to speak with Niamh or one of her team, please contact +353 (0) 1 562 0027 or info@singlepoint.ie