Employees ask: 'Where do I go from here?' Employers respond: 'Stick with us and upskill.' | Opinion

·4 min read

It was only two years ago when companies large and small around the globe were looking toward a bright future. March 2020 brought shutdown orders across the nation which brought the economy to a screeching halt. Over the past 18 months of trying to beat back the COVID-19 pandemic, a cosmic shift quietly happened across the world and our economy. The COVID-19 pandemic gave people an opportunity to pause and think about what matters most in their personal and professional lives and whether they were fulfilling the dream they had for themselves and their families. As we can all see now, the resounding answer was no.

As the restrictions lift and the markets begin to recover, thousands of professionals and hourly workers are resigning in droves to seek a better way of life. In July 2021, Monster.com polled workers and found that 86 percent of workers feel that their career stalled during the pandemic, and 34 percent feel the best way forward is a job with a new employer.

I heard about it from workers, no matter the title, across industries. Although the exact reasons underlying the “Great Resignation” are as numerous as they are uncertain, the outcome to an economy trying to recover from a pandemic is the same. People are hungry for a career change and are willing to step out and try new things which, years prior, did not seem possible.

Businesses, like employees, have a choice on how they climb out of this pandemic. They can either succumb to the mass exodus or be willing to play the long game and invest in talent. If the latter sounds preferable, consider upskilling and reskilling your employees. For upskilling and reskilling programs to be effective in today’s changing business environment, they need to inspire smart and dedicated workers to stick with their employer — even during times of crises. One inspiring employee retention option is the bootcamp model.

Founded in 2015, Zip Code Wilmington is a nationally recognized nonprofit coding bootcamp in Wilmington, Delaware, where students are reskilled or upskilled in technology careers, and at competitive salaries, all in just 12 short weeks. Its alliances run deep with local businesses and Fortune 500 companies looking to fill their tech talent shortages or upskill employees into new roles.

As a co-founder of Zip Code Wilmington, I am proud of the transformative effect this training has on the lives of its graduates, its impact on the economy of this region, and the tech culture arising from the concentration of 500 Zip Code graduates who are now new software developers in this region. What makes us most unique is our educators’ experiences as professional software developers combined with input from our corporate partners to ensure that our program mirrors current industry needs. Zip Code Wilmington prepares those that enter its doors to step into any software development team, whether with new or brushed-up on skills, and succeed.

The benefit to the organization works both ways. First, the employee feels heard and valued by their employer, uses their knowledge of the company’s culture and values in the transition to a tech role, and increases their earning potential. Second, the employer quickly fills a critical tech position with an employee they know and trust. Upskilling is a win-win for the employee and employer.

For businesses to come out ahead of this economic crisis, they need to play the long game and embrace a growth mindset. Investing in an employee’s future and the future of the business takes more than a 1-day workshop. When employees are upskilled in a bootcamp, the company’s workforce’s digital skills gap is reduced, and their competitive edge is increased. This also means improved collaboration between workers, a more agile workforce, and a business model that is prepared to adapt for the future. For example, Zip Code Wilmington’s corporate partners small and large, such as Marlette Funding, JPMorgan Chase, and CSC, tap the program’s upskilling model to fill their tech talent shortages and have reaped the benefits of upskilling employees to become new assets to the company.

In today’s recruitment environment, companies that are offering upskilling programs to their workforce will be positioned for growth now and in the future.

Jim Stewart
Jim Stewart

Jim Stewart is CEO of Epic Research and co-founder of Zip Code Wilmington.

This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: Delaware employers: 'Stick with us an upskill'

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