When it comes to the types of skills individuals believe will get them ahead in the current economy, technology tops the list.
According to online learning provider Udemy’s 2014 “Skills Index” survey, 52 percent of U.S. students polled said they take courses related to technology or computer programming. Udemy’s Skills Index is composed of data from 7,000 students enrolled in the company’s top 100 paid courses.
“The gap between what many Americans need to know about tech and what they do know about tech will only continue to widen with time,” said Dennis Yang, CEO of San Francisco-based Udemy. “Our general belief is that the half-life of an individual’s skill set is decreasing at a rate that’s faster than ever before. If you look at technology cycles, they’re happening faster over time.”
Within the technology category on the Udemy website, 51 percent of students take programming courses and 15 percent take information technology administration. Further, 13 percent of students take software courses and 12 percent take mobile development courses.
“I think online is a good way to lay the foundation, to stay and teach the basic concepts and methodology and give them the basics,” said Matthew Ripaldi, senior vice president at Modis who carries out IT staffing. “I think when you mix in real-time training, that reinforces what you learned in real time.” Students using these learning programs are typically between 25 and 44 years old and new to the workforce.More than 30 percent of them consume the content via a mobile application on a mobile device.
With technology becoming an increasingly larger part of consumer life, skilled tech talent is more in-demand than ever before — a trend Yang said is poised to continue as the evolution of technology is likely to outpace individuals’ skills.
“These findings indicate that an ever-increasing number of Americans are recognizing that technology skills are a requirement to keep pace in today’s demanding job market,” Yang said. “It’s inspiring to see so many taking control of their futures and adopting the skills they need.”
Out of all the course categories on Udemy, the development courses outshine the remaining sections in enrollment numbers by a large margin. “Java for Complete Beginners,” for example, has 212,000 students, with a few other classes trailing with more than 100,000 students. There is no data that tells how many students finish the courses.
Online courses should ideally be mixed with hands-on approaches to adapt them to a learner’s skill set. Still, soft skills shouldn’t be overlooked while focusing on hard skills. Nearly half of executives polled in Adecco’s 2013 State of the Economy and Employment Survey feel the U.S. workforce’s main gap is in soft skills.
“I think that there are gaps in both,” said Modis’ Ripaldi. “Communication, collaboration, teamwork, conflict resolution, all those things play a role in IT every day on every single project and everything they do. When we have candidates who lack the soft skills, they’ll have issues delivering on the project.”Filed under: Measurement, Technology