Reseller News

Upskilling NZ’s workforce with free IT courses and role-based certifications

Microsoft Learn represents a new hands-on approach to learning that aims to help all stakeholders achieve their goals faster

Company training is a term that can elicit extreme reactions. On the one hand, everybody acknowledges that training is integral to professional growth and successful business operations. On the other, few workers and organisations won’t have experienced training that isn’t tedious, uninspiring, out of date, potentially very expensive and ultimately promises more than it delivers. However, it doesn’t need to be this way.

The latest advances in learning focus on effectiveness. That means ensuring lessons are engaging, kept up-to-date and that knowledge is transferred in easily-digestible, bite-sized chunks. Delivering lessons in this way ensures that courses get completed and that knowledge sticks. These are the teaching facets that lie at the heart of the Microsoft Learn training courses which are designed to upskill individuals and businesses alike.

This should be of particular interest to the New Zealand IT industry. Here, some 90 per cent of the market is made up of small businesses and most rely heavily upon third-party IT service providers. If a business isn’t offering the latest technology and services, then you can bet that its competitors are. Furthermore, with some 90,000 NZ LinkedIn members citing IT skills on their profile, it’s not uncommon to have tech-savvy customers asking for the latest technologies and services as soon as they hear about them. If a service provider can’t address those questions, the customer will look to someone who can.

On top of this, over the next two years, 120 NZ firms will be offering 3,200 new, digital-skilled roles to prospective employees and it's estimated that around 1,200 new software developers will be required. This skills gap needs to be filled and so it’s more important than ever that newcomers to the workforce are armed with the skillsets that everyone needs. (You can read more on this matter in Microsoft NZ's Managing Director, Barrie Sheers’, recent article on LinkedIn Pulse.)

Indeed, Microsoft understands how critical these issues are to the industry at large and is addressing the problem by offering training solutions to upskill workers at all stages of their career. The courses are free and completing them comes with valuable certification (both premium and gratis variants are available). Completing a course can both boost business prospects and increase individual career outlooks alike.

Training events are held regularly throughout New Zealand and when they’re not face-to-face they take the form of webinars and online, eLearning courses which enable everyone to attend.

Credit: Microsoft NZ

Microsoft’s online training solution

Microsoft Learn represents a new hands-on approach to learning that aims to help all stakeholders achieve their goals faster. It recognises that staff training needs to be performed on an individualised basis, that everybody learns at different rates, has different availability, they’re located in different places and are always time-poor. Consequently, Microsoft’s courses embrace the latest, most engaging and most effective personalised learning techniques.

A core technique is Microlearning. This is the practice of breaking complex topics down into easily-absorbed bite-sized chunks. Short-term memory can only retain around seven pieces of new information before being overwritten or pushed out and so it’s important to not overload a learner. The result is lessons that are short, take minutes to complete and can be conveniently completed in a learner’s downtime or during a commute.

Lessons are also kept topical. It’s difficult to relate to old, irrelevant case studies, but far more engaging to learn about things that are of actual practical use to the learner. This also opens the door to Just-In-Time training which is when learners access a lesson shortly before the information is required – ensuring that it’s fresh in the mind. Another effective technique is gamification. After all, learning doesn’t feel like learning when it resembles a game. Microsoft Learn uses all of these techniques.

Feedback has been incredibly positive. Warren Ashburner is part of the Innovation Lab at ERP-specialist, Verde. He said, “Microsoft Learn proved the ideal way for rapidly getting up to speed on any products I had an interest in – things like Dynamics 365, Power BI and the Power platform… I was looking for a light introduction to the products but it went deeper than expected. It was like appetisers of what the products do. It draws you in.”

Business Mechanix senior consultant, Wayne Stewart, states, “It was so good I ended up spending a lot of time engrossed in it.” He completed multiple courses within a week, several of which went way beyond educating himself about the original problem that he sought to fix.

From a business owners’ perspective, an efficient company training strategy leads to better staff retention, easier onboarding and a happier workforce that feels valued and more loyal. On the grander scheme, it helps reduce the NZ IT skills gap and drives better business practices and efficiencies forward which ultimately benefits all stakeholders’ bottom lines.

Credit: Microsoft NZ

So which courses are available? The increasingly-essential Microsoft Azure platform is front and centre with both introductory and advanced training available. Dynamics 365 CRM and ERP training is offered with options for different skillsets such as sales in addition to technical. There are courses on Microsoft Power apps which teach developers how to create powerful and efficient apps for all of Microsoft’s platforms – including Office. Windows developer courses round off the platforms but there are also almost 1,000 instructor-led, multi-lingual courses that are based out of virtual classrooms and cover a wealth of technologies. There are numerous other training resources too and you’ll find live training event listings, direct support plus information and news regarding particular skills shortages and opportunities.

Steal the march on your competitors

Many Microsoft partners opine that their number one concern is attracting and retaining talent and yet there’s a direct correlation between a lack of continuous training and workers leaving within four years. This should come as no surprise considering that more than half of New Zealand’s IT partners allocate less-than 10 per cent of employee time to learning and professional development. Gartner states that over two-thirds of global IT teams are facing a skills shortage and NZ is not exempt (despite the median salary hitting $82,000). Microsoft Learn’s live and online training addresses this skills shortage in the most effective and engaging ways possible while simultaneously cultivating a lifelong learning culture that can evolve the careers of all IT workers. To see how you or your organisation can benefit, take a Microsoft Learn course, today.