COVID-19 has had a significant impact on businesses. Cost-cutting efforts have resulted in organizations having to do more with less. Safety protocols and social distancing guidelines have meant that more employees are working from home. The reality of remote workers and the access, reliability, and security issues that they create are at the forefront of the challenges facing IT departments.
The economic impact of the pandemic has forced some organizations to make the tough decision of workforce reductions. As a result, those remaining are having to take on new and additional tasks. This is a problem because data from the IT Skills and Salary Report found that the number one workforce challenge faced by IT pros is workload.
So, how can organizations cultivate a workforce that is prepared and capable of accomplishing its goals despite being overextended?
Equip IT pros with the skills to succeed/act/push forward
The best method to achieve this is through training and certification. Training infuses your organization’s workforce with the knowledge and expertise to meet the added demands of their positions, while certification confirms that the team members comprehend and can apply what they have learned.
Training not only prepares team members for the additional responsibilities, but it also leads to increased employee retention. Employees appreciate being given the opportunity for personal advancement and training demonstrates the organization’s commitment to their continued improvement. The IT Skills and Salary Report found that opportunities for growth and development are the number one reason employees change companies. Salary is a distant second. Learning new skills also keeps the job fresh – helping prevent employee fatigue and burn-out and leading to increased productivity.
The best certifications require professionals to know the subject matter and how to apply it to solve real-world issues. For example, CompTIA certifications include performance-based questions within their popular certification exams. You are placed into simulated environments that mimic actual situations you may encounter in your job. To earn each certification, you must show competency in the objectives covered.
IT professionals carry a lot of responsibility, so having this independent verification of their talents makes sense. With confirmed knowledge transfer, investment in their education offers meaningful returns. Todd Thibodeaux, president and CEO of CompTIA sums this up, "Any organization that thinks it can’t afford to train and certify their IT staff should be asking, 'Can I afford not to?'"
The line between work and home has blurred
The extension of the workplace into team member’s homes as they do their work remotely has also increased the demands on the IT department. To continue to be productive, employees need ongoing access to the organization’s network. It is critical that they have secure and reliable connections. Through it all, security also remains a priority.
Ensure strong network fundamentals are in place
With the blurring of this line, training is essential to support your IT team who is keeping the organization running behind the scenes. The IT network is no longer a single location or a few corporate locations. Information stored in the Cloud is being accessed from wherever an employee logs in from. IT staff need to be knowledgeable in a variety of systems and ready to support employees regardless of where they’re located. A broad understanding of networking is valuable. This knowledge and these skills and abilities can be gained through courses such as CompTIA’s Network+.
Improve IT efficiency
The IT support team also needs to be efficient. Any time lost hurts productivity. The quicker problems can be identified and resolved, the faster employees can get back to successfully performing their duties. With organizations committed to maximizing their employees’ output, the value of a trained and highly skilled support team cannot be overestimated.
Security is also a major concern. Some of the greatest security risks come from employee behavior. CSOonline.com confirms that underinformed or misinformed employees can leave the organization vulnerable. With team members operating remotely and not under the watchful eye of security experts, the pandemic has increased the need for strong security policies and enforcement.
Contract for the government?
The need to have a workforce trained in security measures and able to confirm it is especially true for organizations that operate as contractors for or who are entities of the U.S. Department of Defense, such as military and defense agencies. DoD 8570 (and DoD 8140, expected to be released in 2021) dictate that these organizations maintain certain cybersecurity expertise. The level of skills required are determined by each individual’s identified job level. These abilities are confirmed by holding select certifications.
Security is ultimately the responsibility of everyone
And it’s on IT to lead the conversations and initiatives. To keep them in front of risk, unlimited training subscriptions such as GK Polaris Discovery are efficient and cost-effective ways to learn best practices, stay on top of change tech and keep certifications current. Top security certifications understand this and require periodic recertification to ensure that these security professionals remain up to date in their knowledge.
Learning and development in a COVID-19 world
As more workers are performing their jobs remotely, they are looking for remote options for their training and certification. Global Knowledge recognizes this need and is perfectly situated to address it.
Global Knowledge has been offering live-streaming online training since the early 2000s. Our instructors have extensive online teaching experience. They are experts in knowing the best ways to engage students and increase understanding and retention of the information covered.
In addition to customer on-site and in-person training, online courses are available via Virtual Classroom Live, a real-time online classroom setting in which students interact directly with instructors and one another. Courses are also offered on-demand, empowering students to take the course at the times and pace convenient to them.
Certification testing has gone remote
More certification bodies are allowing IT pros to take their exams and earn certifications from the safety of their home or other convenient location. If desired, training and certification testing can all be done without ever entering a classroom.
Develop a resilient and ready-for-anything workforce
COVID-19 has certainly changed the way that businesses operate, but it does not have to cripple them. With the proper training and certification, companies can see cost savings and improved productivity from their team without sacrificing the safety of the employees or the organization.
To learn more and get in touch with Global Knowledge’s training experts, visit the Global Knowledge website and get started today.