Skillsoft https://www.skillsoft.com/ en-us Fri, 23 Feb 2024 04:44:56 -0500 Fri, 23 Feb 2024 04:44:56 -0500 Leading with Impact: 2024’s Top Leadership Competencies https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/leading-with-impact-2024s-top-leadership-competencies Mon, 12 Feb 2024 03:56:00 -0500 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/leading-with-impact-2024s-top-leadership-competencies

Strong and competent leaders are more important today than they’ve ever been. With advancements in AI, cybersecurity and the ongoing skills crisis, having leaders in the organization that understand and prioritize stewardship has become essential. These skills enable individuals to guide their teams, inspire high performance, and navigate through challenges to reach organizational goals. Exceptional leaders can articulate a clear vision and strategy which in turn, fosters an environment of trust and collaboration.

World Economic Forums’ 2023 Future of Jobs Report explained that employers estimate that 44% of workers’ skills will be disrupted in the next five years. What does this mean? Organizations need great leaders at the helm to guide teams through this major dislocation and help them improve their skills for the continuously evolving workplace. Essentially, these are the top leadership competencies that will keep your organization competitive and ultimately give you a leg up in the workplace today, tomorrow and in the next five years.

1. Strategic Thinking

Strategic thinking is a crucial skill for leaders, as it involves creative scenario and sensitivity analysis, and well the ability to assess the long-term impact of decisions. This anticipatory and flexible way of thinking helps future-proof an organization by enabling leaders to spot opportunities and threats before they become imminent. Being a strategic thinker also improves decision-making capabilities, ensuring that choices are not made in isolation but are instead linked to the broader organizational goals.

Strategic thinking enhances risk management activities by helping leaders identify potential risks and formulate plans well in advance of a crisis situation. In addition to improving risk management, leaders who can develop and maintain a strategic vision over time can support effective resource allocation, anticipate potential changes and develop scenarios and responses, and flexibly adjust to different types of internal and external challenges.

For leaders to be successful, developing and flexing strategic thinking skills will enhance problem-solving abilities, boost capacity to manage change and encourage innovative thinking.

2. Effective Communication

Leaders at all levels within an organization need to be proficient and nimble communicators, as their role requires them to inspire, empower, and motivate their teams. Effective communication allows leaders to transmit their ideas, align expectations, and facilitate mutual understanding. In addition, cultivating robust relationships is a pivotal element in fostering an environment of openness and promoting transparency.

For individual leaders, effective communication enhances their ability to articulate vision to both seniors and subordinates, delegate tasks, provide constructive feedback, manage change, and understand their employees' perspectives, needs, and concerns. At an organizational level, applying effective communication skills will support alignment of efforts towards common goals while inspiring positive change, and cultivate a culture of trust and mutual respect among team members. In essence, effective communication is not just about information transfer; it's about understanding, influencing, and connecting with people across the organization.

Want to expand your feedback giving skills?

3. Emotional Intelligence

Leaders possessing high emotional intelligence are adept at empathizing, building strong relationships, managing teams effectively, and dealing with workplace stress. They also excel in understanding and responding to their own and others' emotions, which enhances decision-making and conflict resolution. A Gallup survey found that employees with emotionally intelligent managers are 4x less likely to leave their jobs. Emotionally intelligent leaders are skilled at navigating change, managing conflict, and driving team performance, leading to better employee retention.

Being an emotionally intelligent leader in today’s workplace is fundamental to effective leadership – it enhances individual performance and directly contributes to organizational success.

Learn more about improving emotional intelligence

4. Problem Solving

Leaders across organizations are constantly faced with problems that could disrupt the priorities of their teams and organizations. Having strong individuals ready and willing to address problems is critical; the speed with which problems are acknowledged and solved can have a profound impact on a team’s ability to successfully function. Leaders adept at problem-solving can effectively navigate complex business challenges, support organizational focus and continued success. These skills interwoven with their strategic thinking, decision-making, and crisis management abilities, inspires confidence within their teams.

Leaders who have strong problem-solving capabilities provide valuable guidance, promote collaboration and facilitate development of innovative solutions. Leaders who support solution-oriented environments can increase job satisfaction, improve team cohesion, and enhance team performance.

5. Team Building

While building strength in all these individual competencies may lead to increased team collaboration and communication, leaders must find opportunities for teams to engage in exercises and activities to build cohesion and trust within teams. Leaders who excel in creating a positive environment for their teams can boost their own credibility, inspire their team members, manage conflicts more effectively, and accelerate their team’s performance to help achieving the organization's strategic goals. According to a recent report by Gusto, 37% of the employees surveyed revealed that they chose to remain in their current job due to the presence of an exceptional team. Positive team dynamics have a significant and real impact on employee retention and overall job satisfaction. Great leaders build great teams, and great teams build strong organizations.

Learn more about developing your team building skills.

6. Conflict Resolution

Conflict is an inevitable part of our lives, often arising from differences, both major and minor, as we interact with others who may have different opinions, perspectives, and backgrounds. Being able to resolve conflict is a crucial leadership skill with profound impacts on leaders, their teams, and ultimately to the wider organization. Leaders who can adeptly resolve conflicts can transform disputes into opportunities for growth. They navigate difficult conversations with tact, mediate disputes impartially, foster open communication, and encourage problem-solving attitudes.

Imagine there's a disagreement between two key stakeholders over the direction of a project. Both individuals believe their approach is best, causing tension and slowing progress on the project.

Leaders who are adept at conflict resolution can accurately assess the situation, and then determine the most effective way to intervene to constructively engage with stakeholders to reach a mutual understanding or compromise. By using conflict resolution skills like active listening, emotional intelligence, and problem-solving, leaders can facilitate a conversation that allows each party to express their viewpoints and feelings. This process can help find a solution that respects and considers differing viewpoints while maintaining progress towards a shard goal.

Simply put: a leader's competency in smoothly handling conflict is an invaluable asset that supports team productivity and unity and promotes mutual trust and respect.

Learn how Skillsoft Coaching can help build conflict resolution skills

7. Change Management

Change is an inevitable part of leading any organization. Effective change management enables leaders to execute transformational initiatives, foster a culture of adaptability, and empower their teams to accept change. In a working world being transformed daily by GenAI, the ability to navigate teams through change will be essential to providing an environment where teams feel safe, empowered, and encouraged to explore opportunities to change how they do their day-to-day jobs, and reimagine what could be possible. Adopting a calm and strategic approach to change management makes all the difference for teams, it can minimize resistance, facilitate smooth transitions and boost morale amin uncertainty. At the organizational level, such leaders are key in successfully implementing strategic changes, maintaining operational continuity during transitions, and enhancing organizational agility.

Want to learn more about the impact and opportunity of GenAI in workforce development?

A leader able to consistently demonstrate these traits can ignite passion and creativity in their teams and foster an environment that motivates and encourages each member to bring their best to the table. However, the impact is not just measured within that team. The ripple effect of this type of forward-thinking leadership permeates throughout the entire organization. It creates a culture where excellence is the norm, not the exception. Innovation is encouraged and celebrated, leading to new ideas and solutions that can push the organization to new heights.

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Top 5 Highest-Paying AWS Certifications https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/top-paying-aws-certifications Wed, 07 Feb 2024 00:00:00 -0500 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/top-paying-aws-certifications

Cloud skills are rising in demand, according to Skillsoft’s annual IT Skills and Salary survey. For years, the findings have shown cloud computing as a top area of investment, with Amazon Web Services (AWS) often cited as a priority vendor. Because of this, AWS certifications often command high salaries for those professionals who’ve earned them.

Added to the mix is also the difficulty in hiring. Hiring managers tend to see some of the stiffest competition for talent when sourcing architects, engineers, or developers. Two-thirds of leaders say they’ve had three or more open spots on their team this past year, mostly because they struggle to attract or retain employees.

This makes it tough to build strong teams that have the skills to fully utilize the services that vendors like AWS have to offer, let alone innovate and advance.

Most leaders feel their team’s skills are at an intermediate stage — not experts but not novices either. For this reason, it makes AWS credentials all the more valuable to those hiring managers desperate for skilled workers who can aid their team’s initiatives.

But just how valuable?

In keeping with past years, we looked at the top-paying AWS certifications after collecting survey data from professionals around the world. We’ve updated this post to include salary information for the top-paying AWS certifications across more regions, including Europe and the Middle East, the Asia Pacific and Latin American regions.

Globally, 1,127 survey respondents reported having earned an AWS certification, with the most popular being its foundational credential, AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner. Across all regions, the average certification holder reports making six figures — further evidence of the priority placed on cloud projects and skills.

We breakdown the highest-paying certifications worldwide below, also showing how compensation differs by region. Keep reading to learn more and see how to earn each credential.

The Average Certification Holder:

Age

35

Manages a team

59%

Hold a cybersecurity certification

69%

Average number of certifications

10

Most likely cross-certification vendor(s)

Microsoft, Google, and ISC2

Average salary (worldwide)

$100,051

Snapshot: Top 5 Highest-Paying AWS Certifications Globally

Certification
Average Salary

AWS Certified Security – Specialty

$138,0533

AWS Certified Advanced Networking – Specialty

$137,698

AWS Certified Machine Learning – Specialty

$136,595

AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional

$132,852

AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional

$124,695

Below, read about some of the leading certifications from AWS in North America (US and Canada) and how to earn them.

AWS Certified Security – Specialty

World

US

EMEA

APAC

LATAM

$138,053

$166,449

$131,483*

$79,962*

$110,750*

Ranking at the top of our list, those with an AWS Certified Security – Specialty know how to secure data in the AWS Cloud, understand specialized data classifications, data encryption methods, and secure Internet protocols.

Candidates who plan to pursue this specialty certification benefit from starting with the Solutions Architect – Associate or Professional.

Before Taking the Exam, Candidates Should Have:

  • Five years of IT security experience, designing and implementing security solutions; at least two years of hands-on experience securing AWS workloads.
  • Study the domains: threat detection and incident response; security logging and monitoring; infrastructure security, identity and access management; data protection; management and security governance.
  • Understand the AWS shared responsibility model, its services and controls, and integrations with third-parties.

Recommended courses for this certification:

AWS Certified Advanced Networking – Specialty

World

US

EMEA

APAC

LATAM

$137,698

$153,031

$149,743*

$95,376*

$99,500*

The AWS Certified Advanced Networking – Specialty certification is best suited for candidates with five or more years of professional experience whose focus at work is on developing complex networking solutions.

Those architects and engineers who plan to sit the exam should feel confident in their abilities to design hybrid and cloud-based solutions, know AWS services and best practices. When studying for the exam, the domains focus on network design (30%); implementation (26%); management and operations (20%); and network security, compliance and governance (24%).

Before Taking the Exam, Candidates Should Have:

  • Five years of hands-on experience developing network solutions.
  • Experience with AWS, specifically its security and storage solutions.
  • Proficiency in networking architectures, CIDR and sub-netting.

Recommended certification training:

AWS Certified Machine Learning – Specialty

World

US

EMEA

APAC

LATAM

$136,595

$156,547*

$101,691*

$86,879*

$103,333*

Globally, artificial intelligence and machine learning are priority areas of investment for tech leaders. That said, it’s also causing some tension. Most leaders say their team’s skills in this domain aren’t where they could be, with only 8% saying they employ highly skilled workers.

This certification should signal to employers they have the right talent to build and operationalize machine learning models using AWS. For candidates, it’s important to study these domains prior to sitting the exam: data engineering, exploratory data analysis, modeling and machine learning implementation.

Before Taking the Exam, Candidates Should Have:

  • It’s best suited for those with at least one year of experience developing and architecting machine learning workloads in AWS.
  • Experience with basic hyperparameter optimization, machine and deep learning frameworks, as well as best practices for model training, deployment, and operation.
  • Proficiency in explaining how machine learning algorithms work.

Recommended courses for this certification:

AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional

World

US

EMEA

APAC

LATAM

$132,852

$174,137

$122,919

$74,390*

$75,008

Also ranked on this year’s overall top-paying certifications list, the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional commands high salaries given the output of these professionals.

Candidates chasing this certification must have advanced knowledge of the Well-Architected Framework and know how to craft complex solutions by bringing together many of the services AWS offers. The exam tests candidates’ abilities to design new solutions and improve them over time, while migrating and modernizing workloads.

Before Taking the Exam, Candidates Should Have:

  • Two or more years of experience using an array of AWS services to solve complex business problems with cloud solutions.
  • Experience gathering information and working collaboratively to provision applications on AWS.
  • AWS recommends being familiar with: AWS CLI, AWS APIs, AWS CloudFormation templates, the AWS Billing Console, the AWS Management Console, a scripting language, and Windows and Linux environments.

Recommended courses for this certification:

AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional

World

US

EMEA

APAC

LATAM

$124,659

$150,546

$112,192*

$70,797*

$85,250*

The final AWS certification on our top list is the DevOps Engineer – Professional, which validates a candidate’s technical expertise in provisioning, operating, and managing distributed application systems on the AWS platform.

Those who’ve obtained the certification use DevOps practices to develop and maintain AWS applications. The prerequisite for this certification is the AWS Certified Developer – Associate.

Before Taking the Exam, Candidates Should Have:

  • Two or more years of experience provisioning, operating, and managing AWS environments.
  • Experience building and securing highly automated infrastructures, administering operating systems, and current development methods.
  • Should be familiar with the software development lifecycle, programming and scripting.

Recommended courses:

Start Preparing For – And Pass – The Exam

Earning an AWS certification can open doors for both individuals and the organizations they serve. Training for these credentials strengthens one’s understanding of the concepts and techniques, while also boosting their confidence, engagement and morale at work. Often, new certifications lead to promotions, raises and opportunities to work on coveted projects.

For those organizations prioritizing cloud-dependent initiatives, employing professionals with these credentials assures a reliable skill set and commitment to excellence. To help prepare for these certifications, Skillsoft can help.

Skillsoft’s Global Knowledge was recognized as Amazon Web Services’ learning Partner of the Year in 2023, given the breadth and quality of instructor-led training offered to learners and organizations. Complementing live training is Codecademy’s interactive learning modules, helping people build programming skills that are necessary for several of the certifications listed earlier.

Find the training that best suits your needs to earn highly valuable AWS certifications.

How We Built This List

This list of top-paying AWS certifications is based on survey responses from Skillsoft’s 2023 IT Skills and Salary Survey conducted from May to September 2023. The survey asks respondents about their current jobs and experience, certifications and salaries, and more. Respondents encounter multiple choice and multi-select, open-ended, rank choice, and other types of questions while taking the survey.

The survey is distributed to IT professionals around the world by technology providers, certification bodies, and Skillsoft.

The focus of this list is on 1,127 respondents who reported having one or more AWS certifications. When reporting salary figures, Skillsoft looks for at least 50 survey responses before considering relevance, demand and other factors.

*The salaries reported for respondents in EMEA, APAC and LATAM largely fall below that threshold. They are presented for continuity but lack statistical relevance. Salaries are not normalized for cost-of-living or location.

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'A Better Version of Ourselves': How Innovative L&D Can Drive Transformational Culture Change https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/a-better-version-of-ourselves-how-innovative-l-d-can-drive-transformational-culture-change Mon, 05 Feb 2024 08:25:00 -0500 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/a-better-version-of-ourselves-how-innovative-l-d-can-drive-transformational-culture-change

There's a saying in management circles: "What gets measured gets managed." The idea is that when we start measuring something — be it team performance, process outcomes, or learning program results — we start paying attention to it. And when we start paying attention, we notice what's working and what isn't. Then, we can take steps to support the parts that work and fix the ones that don't.

It's clear that metrics matter. But some things are difficult to quantify — like the kind of transformational culture change that helps all of us become better versions of ourselves.

Recently, we spoke to a Skillsoft customer, an international financial institution, about the power of this type of change. To publish this report, our customer requested we use only her first name and to omit the organization’s name. This is to remain compliant with internal policies.

As a supervisor of technology learning at this organization, April knows firsthand how powerful effective learning and development (L&D) programs can be. Her team regularly designs and promotes learning campaigns on various topics to support the organization’s mission.

But April also knows that, sometimes, L&D teams get hung up on traditional forms of learning, like formal classes, because the results are more easily measured. In April's view, these conventional forms of learning have their uses, but we need to be more creative if we want L&D to evolve. We need to think big and use our L&D tools and technologies in innovative ways.

"L&D people are [usually focusing on metrics like] learning impact, but I think as we move forward in the L&D space, it has to go beyond that," April says. "It doesn't always have to be about that traditional learning. It doesn't always have to be about a class. Learning is so much more than that."

What does it mean for L&D to "go beyond" conventional approaches to training? Here's one use case that April and her team implemented — and the tremendous results they achieved along the way.

The Black History Month 30 Day Action Plan

During Black History Month, the team set out to create a comprehensive learning program spotlighting Black American achievements and contributions. The initial idea for the project was born partly from April’s belief that L&D can help people understand one another in the workplace and build empathy among colleagues.

Many colleagues work and reside in the Washington, D.C. area but come from a wide array of countries. During Black History Month, April wanted to share the rich history of their host country, specifically American Black history.

She was inspired to do this project for this reason: "so many of my colleagues live in the US for long periods. They sometimes have raised their children here. They've been in this country for 25 years. But they don't necessarily know this country’s history. This is not just Black history. This is American history."

The project was deeply personal for April. “As an African American working at an international organization, Black History month has a special meaning to me. It is an opportunity to increase the awareness and understanding about the rich tapestry of Black culture and its people's contributions to US history and the world.”

With this goal in mind, April and her team designed the Black History Month 30-Day Action Plan. The idea was partly inspired by Skillsoft's 30-Day Habits Calendar. The team built their own version of the calendar, curating content from various sources. For example, one day might feature diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) training from Skillsoft's library. Another might feature a YouTube video about the diaspora of African cuisine and its journey into American cuisine. The team created a custom channel to host all the content in a centralized place, using Skillsoft’s learning platform Percipio.

The team shared the action plan across various Viva Engage channels and with several affinity groups, hoping for a modest number of views. Instead, the action calendar took off. Over the course of the month, the action plan received 16,000 views.

"I was going to be happy if we got 1,000 views," April says. "I never expected this project to resonate the way it did. I never set out to do it for the accolades."

But accolades and recognition were what the team received. April and her team won the Vice Presidency Award for Community Builder for their DEI contributions.

April's motivation was supporting the personal growth of her colleagues. When discussing the results of the Black History Month Action Plan — the ones that really matter to her — April points to an interaction she had with an African employee from Mali.

"She said to me, 'I've been in this country a long time. My youngest children were born here. Black History Month has always been something that I respect, of course, but I didn't identify with it — until this year,'" April recounts.

She explained that this colleague had recently been contacted by an African American woman who, through DNA, had found out they were cousins. Their families had been separated 400 years ago by the transatlantic slave trade.

"So when she read the Black History Action Plan calendar, she was no longer reading it from a perspective of, 'This is for people I empathize with, but with whom I don't have a connection,'" April says. "She was reading it for the first time as a continuation of her own history."

Moving Beyond Traditional L&D

For April, the success of the Black History Month Action Plan speaks not only to the importance of meaningful DEI efforts in the workplace. It also illustrates how L&D leaders can use the tools, technologies, and vendor partners at their disposal to fashion innovative approaches to learning that resonate with people.

"With a lot of learning management systems, what really drives me nuts is that organizations still place so much emphasis formal learning, and learning is so much more than that," she says. "We know that from peer-to-peer learning. We know that from social learning."

Rather than simply sticking with established learning modalities, April brought her own creativity and insights to crafting the Black History Month Action Plan, mixing and matching content and learning experiences to create something truly unique and engaging.

"A lot of times, unfortunately, learning is associated with drudgery," April says. "But people wrote and said [about the Black History Month Action Plan], 'This is so fun!' Even though it was a heavy topic, it was digestible, interactive, and immersive."

The results of the Action Plan may be hard to quantify, but by thinking beyond conventional L&D metrics and strategies, April was able to impact a genuinely transformational culture change.

"What resonates to me is the personal journey of all of us being a better version of ourselves," she says. "That means that we're understanding each other. We understand or have some empathy for each other’s experiences. And I think that is the kind of workplace we all want to be in.”

The organization in this story has elected not to use its name to comply with its internal communications policy.

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What is Middle Management and Why is it Important? https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/what-is-middle-management-and-why-is-it-important Mon, 05 Feb 2024 08:15:00 -0500 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/what-is-middle-management-and-why-is-it-important

There are many misconceptions surrounding the role of middle managers in companies around the world.

While the term “middle managers” refers to managers who are below the top level of management and are responsible for controlling and running an organization rather than making decisions about how it operates, they are crucial to a company’s ability to successfully operate.

Because of the word “middle,” people often assume that employees in these roles are aiming to move up in their companies, ideally into more senior roles, but this is a false representation of the role and all the responsibilities that it entails. Contrary to the title the role implies, middle managers are actually at the center of the action, and without their ability to connect and integrate people and tasks, organizations would struggle to operate effectively.

As companies are continuously looking to become more agile and responsive to change, the role of middle management is evolving, and the recent shift from traditional hierarchical structures in the workplace has left middle managers with more authority and responsibility than ever before.

Now, middle managers face increased pressure to fulfill a multitude of roles, prompting employers to look at how they can best support their employees in middle management.

Let’s take a look at the roles and responsibilities of mid-level managers in today’s professional landscape, and why they are extremely important to a company’s overall success.

Common Responsibilities of Middle Managers

Middle managers play a vital role in an organization’s day-to-day operations. They have a vast range of responsibilities and serve as important functions in a company’s organizational structure.

While top-level management oversees overall company strategy and long-term planning, middle management is focused on the everyday functioning of specific departments within the company and how individual workers are progressing in their roles.

Most importantly, employees in middle management are in charge of communicating the goals of upper management to lower-level employees and making sure that their team operates smoothly while fulfilling these goals.

Other common duties of middle managers include:

  • Monitoring employee performance
  • Assigning and supervising specific tasks
  • Encouraging employees to reach their full potential
  • Recruiting and retaining company employees
  • Reporting issues and successes to top-level management

Middle managers typically start their careers in specialist roles and might take on various jobs that enable them to establish a strong professional network, which can benefit their employers and the teams they lead.

These are a few of the positions generally considered to be middle management:

  • Branch managers
  • Store managers
  • Regional directors
  • Department managers

Challenges of Middle Management:

Working in leadership has gotten a lot harder over the past couple of years. With the rise of remote work, and the increasing sentiments of isolation that come with it, it can be hard to find ways to engage team members and encourage stellar performance from all employees.

Middle managers are now struggling with how to balance their various responsibilities while also managing group demands and expectations.

Here are some of the top challenges that middle managers are facing in their roles today:

The messy middle

The first major challenge is in the role title: middle. Studies show that middle managers can often feel that they are caught at the in-between, suffering from being in contradictory roles. They are leading teams, while also reporting to others; they are directing work while also being expected to perform it. The dual nature of these roles can be challenging and it requires a high level of dedication and focus.

Additionally, middle managers might find themselves involved in the conflicts of those both above and below them in the organizational hierarchy. Finding ways to successfully act as an intermediary can be difficult, especially when expected to please people on both ends.

Stress and burnout

Feeling responsible for solving problems on either end of the hierarchy and overseeing coaching, organization, and communication across teams can be a source of stress for many middle managers.

Employees in these roles feel pressure to produce exceptional results, hit numbers, stay on schedule, and meet customer and leadership demands, while also ensuring that the people on their team are being productive and supported. All of these responsibilities can sometimes lead to burnout, so it’s important to implement strong support systems for middle managers in order for them to also have the tools to support all the people they work with on a daily basis.

Feeling undervalued

Studies show that employees in middle management positions have some of the lowest levels of job satisfaction at U.S. organizations. This should not be ignored.

A big reason for these high levels of dissatisfaction has to do with middle managers feeling undervalued at their companies. The idea that exists in the business landscape of middle managers being unexceptional, mediocre supervisors is a gross underrepresentation of the value that employees in this position offer their companies.

Rather, middle managers should be considered the glue that holds companies together. Think about all the times you may have gone to a team manager for guidance or support. Without them and their ability to organize and communicate, whole teams would likely lose their ability to run smoothly, greatly effective company success and productivity.

The communication, organizational, and leadership skills that middle managers possess are seen as some of the most valuable skills for employees across a multitude of industries, and the multifunctional work they do for their teams is extremely important to the everyday functioning of many organizations.

Tips for Helping Your Middle Managers Succeed

Middle managers are key parts of nearly every organization, but in order for them to succeed, they need to feel respected and valued by their companies.

Organizational leaders can be the driving force in making this happen by providing middle managers with the support they need to prosper in their careers.

The most important tip for helping your middle managers succeed is to offer learning and development opportunities.

As mentioned before, middle managers need solid decision-making and communication skills to work with and motivate employees on both sides of the organizational hierarchy. When you offer learning and development opportunities for employees in mid-level management positions, you are providing them with the chance to reskill and upskill in important areas that help strengthen their ability to work alongside, while simultaneously leading, their teams.

Be sure to check out Skillsoft’s courses on how to develop your management skills and become a leader in the workforce.

When you have strong and empowered middle managers, the whole company succeeds, so start learning today.

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SKILLSOFT’S 2023 ESG IMPACT REPORT: FROM PROMISE TO PROGRESS TO POTENTIAL https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/skillsofts-2023-esg-impact-report-from-promise-to-progress-to-potential Mon, 05 Feb 2024 07:00:00 -0500 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/skillsofts-2023-esg-impact-report-from-promise-to-progress-to-potential

Skillsoft published its first ESG Impact Report at the end of 2022 after reflecting upon how we addressed environmental, social, and governance initiatives.

Our first report was instrumental in clarifying the pivotal role that ESG plays in shaping our identity and impact as an organization. It became a powerful tool for us as we looked at how we might address ESG concerns head-on.

Are you curious about how to begin your sustainability journey? Here’sa blueprint to get you started today.

Our second annual report builds upon that inner reflection. For us, truly understanding how our team works to serve the planet, people, and our stakeholders has been foundational as we navigate the complexities of today’s business landscape while fostering a sustainable and ethical corporate culture.

We learned some fundamental truths about ourselves:

  • We care about the planet. As an innovator in the online learning space, Skillsoft has helped organizations digitally transform and support distributed workforces. We’ve had the honor of training millions of people – helping them reskill and upskill for professional growth and longevity with a significantly smaller impact on our natural resources.
  • We care about people. We believe in the life-changing power of learning. And we believe that learning is the key to opportunity. Our employees have access to the same learning resources as our customers. We believe so much in the power of our solution, that we aim to donate 50 million licenses, by 2030, to marginalized populations to whom access to skilling can be life-changing.
  • We care about our stakeholders. We know that cultivating the right mindset in every employee is necessary to mitigate risk and promote a high-performance environment where both the individual and the business can thrive while making the world a better place.

The promise of ESG in any organization, including ours, lies in the profound potential to maximize its purpose and impact. By embracing ESG, we are making an outward commitment to long-term value creation, resilience in the face of evolving challenges, and cultivating positive relationships with stakeholders.

Cultivating a Legacy in ESG Excellence

ESG is our promise to navigate a complex business landscape with integrity, contribute to a sustainable future, and leverage our organizational strengths as a force for positive change. To make good on this promise, we must continuously refine and expand our ESG initiatives to meet existing standards and set new benchmarks and goals for corporate responsibility.

In 2023, we aimed to deepen our commitment to being a responsible business for our stakeholders, customers, and planet. We’re pleased to report that we made critical progress this year:

  • We set a benchmark. For the first time, Skillsoft measured our global greenhouse gas emissions (Scope 1, 2, and partial 3) with the intention of establishing a science-based target. Once set, our target(s) will be the primary forum where we demonstrate our emission-reduction strategy and impact. And, with a view toward transparency and accountability, we also made submissions covering our global operations to CDP.net, EcoVadis, and the United Nations Global Compact.
  • We committed to DEI. Thanks to insights from our annual Global Culture Survey, we uncovered three internal pillars for driving social progress. We’ve expanded our dedication to underserved communities through strengthened partnerships and introduced a senior leadership program which incentivizes breaking down biases through DEI-aligned objectives. CEO Jeff Tarr also signed the CEO Action Pledge for Diversity & Inclusion.
  • We honed our efforts. In 2023, we conducted our first double-materiality assessment, providing us with a fresh focus for future-forward ESG initiatives. We’ve expanded our ESG steering committee and increased employee training, fostering a culture that understands ethical practices.

The Transformative Impact of ESG Progress on Future Success

Our ESG efforts serve as a compass that guides us toward future success and unlocks untapped potential. Prioritizing ESG enhances our resilience, fosters long-term value creation, and attracts conscientious investors.

That’s why we know our progress in 2023 will lead to future potential.

  1. We look forward to setting and measuring our progress toward science-based targets. And we expect to engage our suppliers in supporting our ESG plans and goals, weaving sustainability into our end-to-end value chain.

Get more thoughtful about your ESG commitments by forging closer ties with suppliers. Watch our webinar on sustainability and your supply chain now.

  1. We sifted through thousands of points of feedback and developed three thematic pillars for driving social progress internally, and we anticipate the emergence of a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive global culture.

Discover how to build a DEI training program fit for the modern workforce.

  1. In addition to etching clearer guardrails with our sustainability governance practices, we are devising comprehensive policies for using artificial intelligence (AI) that prioritize safety, transparency, and ethics, paving the way for a more innovative — and sustainable — future.

Are you looking to apply AI ethically in your organization? Here’s what you need to know.

Thank you for joining us on our ESG journey. Here’s to the pursuit of knowledge and to doing better.

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The 7 Toughest Areas of Tech to Hire For https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/the-7-toughest-areas-of-tech-to-hire-for Wed, 24 Jan 2024 10:42:00 -0500 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/the-7-toughest-areas-of-tech-to-hire-for

Over the past few decades, technology has evolved at an astronomical rate, bringing about new roles and responsibilities in the tech landscape.

Now, IT decision-makers are experiencing a series of challenges when it comes to preparing their teams for the new responsibilities and expectations that come with working in tech today, mostly having to do with hiring qualified employees.

Findings from Skillsoft’s most recent IT Skills and Salary survey show that hiring tech workers has been one of the biggest challenges IT leaders have had to face over the past year.

And there’s an obvious trend.

As specialties like artificial intelligence and machine learning, cloud, cybersecurity, and data science are becoming more sought after, they have also become some of the toughest areas of tech to hire for.

This is because the demand for the skills remains extremely high, especially considering the rate of change in artificial intelligence, the severity of cyber-attacks, and the reliance on cloud solutions at work and at home.

Now, tech leaders are struggling with how to keep up.

Gathering data from 5,700+ IT professionals, the Skillsoft survey provides insight into the global state of the tech industry.

Let’s dive into some of the toughest areas of tech to hire for and see how you and your team can work to overcome these challenges.

Artificial Intelligence

Over the past year, artificial intelligence has become essential for businesses across industries, drastically altering our professional landscape.

As the demand for AI skills rises, this year’s survey results show that these specialists have become the toughest to hire for, with 43% of tech leaders saying their team’s skills in AI need improvement and 30% of survey respondents reporting that they have the most difficulty hiring qualified AI professionals.

This is largely because teams are unable to keep up with the rapid pace of change in the industry. This challenge has left leaders with few other options than to invest in training their teams.

The majority of IT decision-makers who participated in our survey responded that they believe that reskilling and upskilling is the path forward.

A recent survey from Deloitte showed that a lack of AI skills was a main issue for many organizations, yet few were investing in AI training. This has led to a major lack of supply in a field that is rapidly increasing in demand.

In order to recognize the full potential of AI, leaders must empower their teams to work effectively with the technology, and the best way to do that is by focusing on acquiring the skills and knowledge needed to excel.

Cloud Computing

In recent years, the rapid adoption and maturation of cloud technologies has revolutionized many organizations’ digital initiatives. This trend has had an immense impact on tech jobs, leading to a surge in demand for professionals skilled in this area, evidenced by the fact that 82% of IT decision-makers reported that the demand for cloud computing skills is increasing within their organizations.

One of the biggest changes brought by cloud computing is lower IT costs due to the shift from on-premise solutions to cloud-based ones. This has created a demand for tech workers proficient in cloud computing who are able to help their companies transfer data and applications to the cloud.

Cloud architects, specifically, are some of the most sought-after new hires, yet finding employees whose talent as architects also translates to the specific cloud specializations required to fill these roles has proved challenging for team leaders.

Nearly all IT leaders agree that certified staff add immense value to their organizations, and this year, certifications in multiple Google Cloud professions were the most sought-after and are shown to be some of the highest-paying certifications in 2024.

As businesses continue to utilize cloud technology, the need for skilled cloud architects will remain an important part of successful cloud implementations.

Cybersecurity

As the cybersecurity landscape continues to evolve, companies are increasingly looking for ways to keep up with the threats that ensue.

From ransomware attacks and data breaches to attacks driven by AI, cybersecurity technologies and vulnerabilities look much different than they did in the past.

Today, cybersecurity specialists require expertise in the latest security technologies and techniques, and most importantly, they must continuously update their skills to stay ahead of new threats. But this can be challenging, especially when the landscape is evolving so quickly and even tech decision-makers are struggling to keep up.

Committing to upskilling and investing in adequate cybersecurity training are crucial steps in gaining the skills necessary to work within the evolving demands of the industry, and it ensures that your workforce is ready to face the challenges that will arise in the future.

Get the Guide:How to Manage Your Organization's Cybersecurity Learning Program in the Evolving Threat Landscape

Data Engineers

As data and its application become much more critical in how people make decisions, roles like data scientists and engineers have continued to grow in demand.

Ranked second in our list of the Top-Paying IT Certifications of 2024, the crucial importance of data engineers in organizations has not gone unnoticed. In order to excel in the field, professionals looking to pursue a career in data science should master a few key skills such as the ability to develop data processing systems and create secure, scalable, and reliable data solutions.

With proper training and the completion of IT-certified upskilling courses, professionals can help fill in the gaps that tech decision-makers are struggling to hire for in these areas.

IT Project Managers

Another major skill gap that professionals are struggling to hire for is project management.

IT project managers play a crucial role in planning, initiating, and executing software development projects. As organizations work to stay up to date with current trends in the tech landscape, effective project leaders are essential for achieving desired success.

However, finding qualified candidates for these roles can be challenging. The Project Management Institute recently reported that 25 million project management professionals are needed by 2030 to close the existing skill gap.

In order to be successful in this role, individuals must have strong leadership skills, substantial experience, and advanced technical expertise, assets that were reported as being some of the most important in our IT Skills and Salary survey.

Software Engineers

Like most of the other job areas, the main problem with hiring software engineers is that there are not enough people with the right skills.

“Software engineering” is a broad term that covers a wide range of skills. Because of this, businesses frequently require employees with specialized skill sets.

That’s where reskilling and upskilling come in. By honing your skill sets and technical abilities, you make yourself an asset to tech teams, providing a solution to IT decision-makers who are struggling to find qualified people for the jobs they are hiring for.

UI/UX Designers

Collaboration and communication skills are of utmost importance for UI/UX designers as their job often requires them to collaborate with cross-functional teams.

It is also imperative that people in these roles are both artistically creative and technically experienced, as they are responsible for building user-friendly and visually captivating digital interfaces.

This mix of communication, creativity, and technical expertise generates a high demand in the tech field since many positions often don’t require all three, even though their growing importance in the industry has not gone unnoticed.

Today, the changing nature of the tech industry is further stressing the importance of power skills among technical employees. Notably, findings from our survey reveal that power skills like communication are among the most important for those in leadership positions and are making a marked difference in professionals’ career trajectories.

Having the ability to solve problems with remarkable, innovative solutions is incredibly important, and skilling, upskilling, and reskilling are vital for workforce transformations, and the ability to hire for more roles.

The Importance of Training to Close Talent Gaps

We are now going through times of incredible change throughout the workplace. Technology is ever-evolving, new jobs are forming, and leaders are worried about their teams being left behind.

That’s why, now more than ever, having capable professionals you can trust is invaluable. While other factors impact one’s ability to find work, certifications signal to employers that candidates can effectively do the job. What’s most, an audit of one’s abilities can help show which skills are sharpest or may need more support. Ongoing assessments and training can help bolster efforts to fill a skill gap.

To learn more about the current trends in the tech industry and how they are impacting tech roles, you can read the entirety of this year’s IT Skills and Salary Report today.

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The Importance of Reskilling and Upskilling Today's Workforce https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/meeting-the-needs-of-the-global-economy-workforce-reskilling-at-scale Wed, 24 Jan 2024 09:00:00 -0500 Sumithra.Appalabottula@sumtotalsystems.com (Sumithra Appalabottula) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/meeting-the-needs-of-the-global-economy-workforce-reskilling-at-scale
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Within the decade, the global workforce will experience widespread disruption, with many jobs being created and lost — or changing for good. That's according to joint research between PwC and the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Nearly one-quarter of all jobs will be impacted by technology like generative AI, as nearly half of all tasks become automated. The repercussions of this mean that some jobs will be replaced, and at the same time, new jobs will emerge.

Knowing this, it begs the question: How can the global workforce sustain 24/7 service from anywhere to anyone when there are simply not enough skilled workers to fill the demand?

“Organizations have to act differently,” said Jonas Prising, CEO, ManpowerGroup, to the WEF. “Creating shareholder value can only be done in conjunction with taking care of employees, customers and communities. And that includes the responsibility to help people learn new skills, adapt for future jobs and to become creators of talent.”

We know that the skills gap continues to dampen productivity for many global enterprises. Some studies also reveal that the skills shortage is one factor contributing to the inflationary pressures as employers continue to outbid each other for the same constrained pool of skilled talent.

According to Korn Ferry’s report, Future of Work: The Global Talent Crunch, if left unchecked, by 2030 the cumulative impact of this talent shortage could cost $8.5 trillion dollars in unrealized annual revenue. As consequential as the cost of inaction is, the projections of taking a stand are just as prodigious. Consider the WEF research:

“… investment in reskilling and upskilling of the current global workforce has the potential to boost GDP by $6.5 trillion by 2030 while investing in future-ready education for today’s generation of school children could add an additional $2.54 trillion over the same period.”

What research like this shows is that the skills deficit is pervasive and daunting. And yet, the rewards that we all stand to reap from overcoming this great challenge will be far-reaching and significant.

But it will require a collaborative approach to solve — partnerships that go beyond the support side of global business.

Organizations are challenged to find innovators who can provide business creativity to solve problems and drive sustainable, valuable outcomes. Hiring managers struggle to find qualified individuals with mission-critical leadership skills, business acumen, artificial intelligence, data and analytics skills, software development experience, and cloud computing and cybersecurity expertise.

The skills gap is further exacerbated as technology evolves at an accelerated rate and redefines how to do business globally.

On an individual level, the economic disruption created by the pandemic gave people an opportunity to rethink and rebalance their lives and careers. Today, people view their jobs in a different light; they want careers that have a meaningful impact on their communities and enrich their own lives.

Businesses are being forced to adapt. Developing new skills is often cited as a key motivator for many workers. We have observed in our own work that organizations that meaningfully invest in upskilling and reskilling their employees materially improve employee retention and improve outcomes. This ultimately leads to sustained productivity and value for the business.

Businesses Must See the Importance of Reskilling and Upskilling

As this is largely an issue of supply and demand, it follows that businesses must close the gap by investing in the supply-side of their skills pipeline. Our traditional education institutions simply do not produce enough skilled talent to meet the demand, and they do not respond quickly to changes brought on by technology and other factors.

The need for people to learn new skills is paramount, but it also compounds the problem. Since these are skills that run the gamut across silos and verticals, it becomes challenging to find a single solution that can empower success for all.

Not just “hard skills” like coding, data science, cybersecurity, and cloud computing are lacking. The need for effective leadership has never been more important in what has become a highly virtualized, remote, and socially distant world.

In a time where most people are always online, connected, and instantly accessible, it is stunning how isolating and lonely the virtual workplace can be. The need for leadership has never been more critical in bringing teams together and rallying around a common goal.

Unfortunately, only 41% of organizations believe their leadership development programs build leaders in a way that benefits the business (Global Human Capital Trends 2019 report published by Deloitte).

Successful programs have adapted to develop a curriculum that offers balance, encompassing hard skills and power skills, like communication and collaboration, critical thinking and problem-solving, empathy, teamwork, creativity, and adaptability.

Investing in employee skills is crucial for success, but only 34% of workers today feel supported by their organization’s skill development opportunities.

What Are Reskilling and Upskilling?

Upskilling and reskilling are two critical concepts that shape the landscape of professional development. Both are done in alignment with an organization’s strategic priorities and their current workforce or job architecture. In order to meet goals, organizations must have the right talent in place to carry out the work. If they don’t have employees on staff already, they must either hire someone new or upskill and reskill their existing base, which tends to be more popular and cost-effective.

Upskilling refers to enhancing existing skills or acquiring new ones that align with the changing demands of the job market. It's not just about learning new software or mastering a new tool; it involves broadening one's understanding of industry trends, emerging technologies, and evolving customer needs. By upskilling, professionals can enhance their marketability, improve their performance, and increase their value to their employers.

But what’s actually involved in upskilling individuals?

Learning programs often include a range of options to close a skills gap, including mentorship, on-demand courses, live training, and hands-on modules. At Skillsoft, we often see our clients create custom learning journeys that meet their unique needs at the time. Consider how DB Systel GmbH launched a program to upskill recent grads for the roles they need that require a specific skill set. Programs like this work to close a gap, while helping employees who have a baseline skill set build on their foundations.

On the other hand, reskilling focuses on learning entirely new skills, often to transition into a new career or adapt to significant industry changes. Reskilling is about reinvention. As industries evolve and certain roles become obsolete, professionals may find themselves needing to pivot into new areas. Reskilling is about leveraging transferable skills and experiences while learning new skills that are in demand in a different field or industry.

As employees build new skills, they can measure their progress through regular assessments. In Skillsoft’s case, these are called Skills Benchmarks, which test a person’s skills at one stage of their journey and then recommend training to close their skills gap — clarifying the exact training they should take to upskill or reskill. Then, employees test again later after completing training to see their progress. Along the way, they earn badges to recognize their efforts and validate their newly acquired skills.

As organizations launch programs to upskill or reskill their workforce, they often see the benefits take many forms, including a tangible return on investment. Cost savings in the form of reduced administration time, a lower training or talent acquisition cost, and even higher rates of productivity all contribute to a program’s success. Forrester Consulting produced Total Economic Impact studies for Skillsoft, showing how clients often see the returns for their training programs. See the impact of technology-focused training here.

Overall, upskilling and reskilling are strategic tools that individuals and organizations can leverage to stay relevant and competitive.

A Robust Reskilling and Upskillilng Strategy Makes Sense

According to Gallup, the cost of replacing an employee can be as high as two times the employee’s annual salary. Comparatively, upskilling or reskilling is a much smaller investment for a company than recruiting, hiring, and training a new employee.

Reskilling and upskilling employees does more than boost a company's bottom line, it creates a happier workforce.

For individuals, upskilling and reskilling offer pathways to career advancement, increased job security, and higher earning potential. Moreover, individuals who actively engage in upskilling and reskilling are likely to perform their job duties more efficiently, make fewer errors, and exhibit higher levels of work engagement.

The benefits of reskilling to individuals:

  • It helps employees see career advancement opportunities
  • They often feel more engaged at work
  • It boosts morale and productivity

In addition, employees who invest in learning and skill-building are more likely to stay up to date with industry trends, make better recommendations, and offer keener insights to clients.

On an organizational level, investing in upskilling and reskilling programs for employees can lead to a more skilled and productive workforce. Such investment helps organizations stay competitive, adapt to technological advancements, and drive business growth.

Organizations that prioritize training their existing employees are more likely to foster an adaptable workforce that's resilient to change over time. Upskilling and reskilling programs can effectively address skills gaps within the organization, reducing the need for external hiring.

The benefits of reskilling to organizations:

  • It improves retention and attracts new talent
  • Skilled, certified staff often add more value to the business
  • Training closes skills gaps that hamper progress

While reskilling and upskilling are solid strategies, not all skills, positions, and roles are the same. So, the next hurdle is — how can you invest in all your employees’ skills cost-effectively?

Many first movers are taking control of their employees' professional learning experiences using the newest insights learning science offers.

Read Next: How a Job Architecture Can Help Streamline Workforce Transformation

How to Leverage Technology for Reskilling Efforts

The same advances in technology that are in part contributing to the skills gap can help to close it. Leaders are looking for trusted, reliable, and (most importantly) effective learning solutions — a mechanism that accelerates productivity and doesn’t disrupt the flow of work. Employees want a marketable and intuitive pathway to learn skills they can use to contribute to the success of the business and also build their own capabilities.

“We are moving out of the era of video-based training, which has dominated the learning and development space over the last 15 years, and toward a future where hands-on, human-centric learning experiences will become the norm. This is driven by two key trends: the rise of digital social interactions and the advancement of AI,” says my colleague and Skillsoft CTO and CPO, Apratim Purakayastha. “What’s key to blended, interactive learning modalities is the “human element.” It can include hands-on platforms like Codecademy or conversation simulators like CAISY, as well as online coaching, instructor-led training, or bootcamps.”

Curated pathways or journeys that guide learners are increasingly critical, especially for higher-stakes outcomes; not everyone is naturally curious or fully understands what they need to learn. With so many options available today, learners can choose to consume live instruction, video content, reading, audio, or whatever works best, but the myriad of options can be overwhelming. They need encouragement and a level of didactic structure to help them on their way. Learning pathways and skill benchmarks correlated to in-demand roles help learners find their appropriate learning journey more readily.

Similarly, for those in leadership positions, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when the task is to plan the career development for a range of individual employees. Leaders seek an intuitive and scalable solution that can serve the various needs of their workforce — to provide personalization and structure that doesn't require a massive investment of time to enable.

As the skills that learners need change, so should how organizations teach those skills. Businesses need flexible, more diverse learning experiences if they want a scalable outcome. They cannot just hire their way out of the problem. This leads to increased competition and wage inflation for the same constrained pool of talent. Ultimately, they will just trade resources and dampen productivity.

To address this constantly evolving skill landscape, Skillsoft leverages technology and learning science to provide tools and activities that address many of these issues directly.

We offer solutions for:

  • Onboarding
  • Upskilling
  • Reskilling
  • Learning in the flow of work
  • Coaching for leaders
  • Project-based learning and hands-on practice
  • Cohort-based learning

We curate these solutions into a system of learning journeys, which offers a blend of learning resources, including self-study on-demand courses, hands-on labs, live instruction, coaching, and an expansive digital books library. We align these learning journeys to in-demand skills based on the analytics of more than 45 million learners and skills insights from partners like Burning Glass Technologies.

We believe that these capabilities provide the foundation to achieve workforce transformation at scale, ultimately enabling employers and employees alike to close the skills gap and reach their fullest potential. See how it works by getting a demo today.

Editor's note: This post was updated with expanded material on reskilling and upskilling in Jan. 2024.

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Mary Draves on Employees’ Roles in Corporate Sustainability Initiatives https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/mary-draves-on-employees-roles-in-corporate-sustainability-initiatives Tue, 23 Jan 2024 06:54:00 -0500 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/mary-draves-on-employees-roles-in-corporate-sustainability-initiatives

Living up to our sustainability goals is a challenge we all face; it is not the sole responsibility of corporations. Yet, many lasting sustainability initiatives stem from corporate programs looking to make a difference for their employees, stakeholders, or the community at large.

To gain more perspective on the topic, the Skillsoft team interviewed sustainability leaders from a diverse set of organizations and industries and compiled these insights into a video series, Sustainability at Work, that is meant to showcase the experiences of real sustainability professionals.

Most recently, we spoke with Mary Draves, former chief sustainability officer at Dow, who talked to us about the link between business and nature. She told us that every individual has a role to play in corporate sustainability initiatives, but as a first step, it is the responsibility of every organization to translate its top-level goals into individual actions.

Meet Mary Draves

“My interest in sustainability started much younger than I would have ever imagined,” said Draves. “I grew up on a row crop farm, and we did things that were sustainable before sustainability was really ‘cool.’ We would grow all our own food; we traded with neighbors; we recycled everything.”

Fast forward to the work she did as an adult at Dow, a company with an unbelievably strong history and legacy of sustainability. Draves drew on her unique early childhood experiences to help leaders at Dow understand the intersection of business and nature – and how nature inherently promotes sustainable operations. Today, she works for the State Nature Conservancy Board in Michigan, which has contributed to many projects that are both good for business and good for nature.

One of the most critical things that Draves has learned throughout her career in sustainability is that every person in every company has a role to play. And Draves believes leadership must set that tone – making sure to be clear about the company’s intentions for sustainability.

When they understand the expectations from leadership, every individual must then make a concerted effort to carry out those intentions. From reducing waste, being inclusive, and understanding the company’s governance practices to understanding the company’s goals for carbon emissions and how the work that they do contributes to those goals, sustainability is not a solo venture.

“I think a lot of people feel like sustainability is somebody else’s problem,” said Draves. “But it is not. Sustainability is everyone’s issue. And if we collectively take small actions, those small actions build into big [collective] actions, which I think is particularly important.”

She pointed to an example of an office furniture company she consults with. They have an innovative circularity program, where they take all your organization’s old office furniture out, put it in a warehouse, and then use it to rebuild your office areas – like new or better. The company was having trouble figuring out how to communicate the program’s value because employees did not quite understand what circularity meant.

After working to better communicate the concept to employees, the company started to gain business because the people on the front lines were able to talk about the actual benefits of those sustainable practices. That’s why it’s imperative that every single employee – from the owners and executives of the company to all levels of the organization – understands what sustainability means to the company and its customers. Leaders must level-set, establish a strong tone from the top, and then translate what the corporate goals mean for every individual who works there.

Say It. Do It. Prove It.

When looking at sustainability practices as a whole, Draves considers “the whole picture of how you run your company, from your pay practices to your environmental policies to how you govern the way your board works – and everything in between.” And while there’s not a one-size-fits-all way to quantify success across sustainability initiatives, she outlined a model to help organizations track the efficacy of their programs, which she calls the Say, Do, Prove Model.

Here’s a breakdown of the process:

  1. Say: Set a goal.
  2. Do: Take action to achieve the goal.
  3. Prove: Prove that you took action towards that goal.

According to Draves, “Sustainability efforts need to be accompanied by actual data that has been audited by an independent third party to really prove that what an organization says it has done is real. There are many companies that set a goal and take some action to achieve it, but then they never actually prove it.”

The companies that are really achieving their sustainability objectives are typically those that can quantify their efforts in a way that is comparable and understandable to society at large.

Applying the Say, Do, Prove Model to DEI Initiatives

Draves believes this is especially valuable in organizations’ diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. More than ever before, workers consider DEI a key element of any company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy – and they expect organizations to clearly communicate the intention of their DEI programs, take actions to make their goals a reality, and quantify their efforts.

Said Draves: “When I talk to young people looking for jobs, there are a couple of things that they ask me very consistently. One is, ‘What are the company’s diversity, equity, and inclusion programs?’” These job seekers want to know if potential employers will accept them as they are.

And they are not looking to be pacified. Job seekers want to understand how employers will make these DEI goals a reality. And then they want to know if these efforts have worked; is the company on the right track to make progress against these goals?

The proof is in the culture. Companies who can show quantifiable progress in DEI initiatives are able to better recruit and retain top talent. Take a look, below, at some ways your organization might apply the model to its own DEI initiatives.

Say:

Do:

  • Inclusive Policies and Practices : Implement policies and practices that promote DEI. This could include unbiased recruitment and hiring processes, flexible work arrangements, mechanisms that promote a healthy speak-up culture, and mentorship programs.
  • Diverse Teams : Actively work to create diverse teams and ensure that employees from different backgrounds have opportunities for collaboration. Assign projects that require cross-functional and cross-cultural teamwork.

Prove:

  • Metrics and Accountability : Establish measurable goals and metrics to track progress in DEI initiatives. Regularly assess and report on diversity metrics, such as representation in leadership roles and employee retention and satisfaction.
  • Recognition and Rewards : Acknowledge and reward individuals and teams that actively contribute to a diverse and inclusive workplace. This reinforces the importance of DEI and encourages ongoing commitment.

By applying the Say, Do, Prove Model to DEI initiatives, organizations can go beyond mere statements and ensure that diversity, equity, and inclusion are integrated into their culture and practices. This approach promotes a more comprehensive understanding of DEI, encourages practical application, and provides a framework for ongoing evaluation and improvement.

The Say, Do, Prove Model implies a group effort within organizations to create a culture that genuinely embraces the principles that matter to that organization – whether they are related to sustainability, DEI, or something else. Achieving success in any of these areas requires a collective commitment and effort, and not a reliance on individual actions alone.

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What Is AWS? A Guide for Learners and Leaders https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/what-is-aws-a-guide-for-learners-and-leaders Mon, 22 Jan 2024 07:05:00 -0500 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/what-is-aws-a-guide-for-learners-and-leaders

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has revolutionized how businesses approach technology and cloud computing. Understanding AWS's potential can be transformative for your team and organization. This guide delves into what AWS is, how it can benefit your organization, and why AWS certification training could be a pivotal step for your team.

What is AWS?

Amazon Web Services, or just AWS, offers cloud computing services and resources on a pay-as-you-go basis, including computing power, storage options, networking, and databases. AWS enables businesses and individuals to build and run applications and services in the cloud, offering scalability, flexibility, and cost-efficiency.

This comprehensive and evolving platform includes services like Amazon EC2 for virtualized computing power and S3 for scalable storage solutions, positioning itself as a blend of infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and software as a service (SaaS).

What’s AWS Used For?

AWS is a powerhouse in the cloud computing realm, offering an extensive range of services that cater to many use cases across various industries. Whether you're in IT, running a large enterprise, or part of a growing startup, AWS has the tools and resources to serve you with a suite of tools and resources tailored to various applications:

  • Web Hosting: Scalable, reliable, and cost-effective solutions for hosting web applications.
  • Data Storage and Backup: Services like Amazon S3 and Glacier offer unparalleled durability and security for data storage needs.
  • Disaster Recovery: Tools for backing up critical data and ensuring business continuity.
  • Big Data Analytics: Analyze large datasets efficiently with Amazon EMR and Redshift.
  • Application Hosting: Deploy various applications using AWS Elastic Beanstalk and EC2.
  • Machine Learning and AI: Build and deploy ML models with Amazon SageMaker.
  • IoT: Connect and manage IoT devices with AWS IoT Core.
  • Mobile and Web Development: Develop and scale applications with AWS Amplify and related services.
  • Serverless Computing: Run code without server management using AWS Lambda.
  • DevOps and CI/CD: Automate software delivery with tools like AWS CodeBuild, CodeDeploy, and CodePipeline.

Key AWS Services

Various AWS services cater to different organizational needs, offering specialized solutions that align with specific aspects of business operations.

  • Compute: AWS offers compute services, including Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS), and Amazon Lightsail.
  • Storage: AWS provides storage services, including Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS), and Amazon Glacier.
  • Databases: AWS database services include Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS), Amazon DynamoDB, and Amazon Aurora.
  • Networking: AWS offers networking services like Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), Amazon CloudFront, and Amazon Route 53.
  • Analytics: AWS services include Amazon Redshift, Amazon Kinesis, and Amazon Athena.
  • Machine learning: AWS offers machine learning services, which include Amazon SageMaker, Amazon Rekognition, and Amazon Polly.

What Are the Benefits of AWS for Your Organization?

AWS offers essential scalability, cost-effectiveness, reliability, security, and innovation.

  • Scalability: Adjust resources easily to match business demands.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Reduce expenses associated with on-premises infrastructure.
  • Reliability: High uptime for consistent service availability.
  • Security: Advanced features to protect sensitive data and ensure compliance.
  • Innovation: Deploy new solutions quickly, fostering a culture of continuous improvement.

Headwinds in Cloud: Skills Remain in Short Supply

According to the IT Skills and Salary report, over half of IT leaders say their team's networking skills fall between medium and low. Relatively few feel confident in their team's abilities in this area (only 7% say they have "high" confidence).

While adopting AWS, your organization may face challenges like skill gaps, cost management, and security concerns. By addressing these effectively through precise planning and skill assessments, your organization can begin leveraging AWS's resources and best practices.

With two-thirds of IT leaders facing a cloud skills gap, upskilling in-house teams becomes crucial. Certifications can bridge this gap, as shown in Skillsoft's IT Skills and Salary Report.

Investing in AWS Certification Training

AWS certification training provides comprehensive resources, hands-on learning, recognized certifications and access to a global community. For IT leaders, this translates to increased team engagement, enhanced customer satisfaction, and better efforts in meeting regulatory compliance.

Certifications make a difference in other ways, too. They lead to shorter resolution times, help projects move faster, make deployments smoother, and ensure employee retention edges up as well.

Why pursue AWS certification?

AWS provides several benefits to IT leaders looking to upskill and train their teams. Here are some of the key advantages:

  1. Access to a wide range of training resources: AWS offers a comprehensive suite of training resources, including instructor-led courses, self-paced labs, and online tutorials, allowing IT leaders to tailor their training programs to their team's needs.
  2. Hands-on learning opportunities: AWS provides various hands-on learning opportunities, such as AWS Free Tier and AWS Partner Network (APN) sandboxes, so that IT professionals can gain practical experience with AWS products and services.
  3. Industry-recognized certifications: AWS offers a variety of industry-recognized certifications, such as the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Professional certification, helping IT professionals advance their careers and earn higher salaries.
  4. Access to a global community of experts: AWS has a large and active community of experts, including AWS certified instructors, partners (like Skillsoft), and customers, allowing IT professionals to connect with others and learn from their experiences.
  5. Reduced time to market: IT leaders can use AWS to deploy new applications and services quickly and easily, helping businesses to innovate and gain a competitive advantage.

AWS offers a valuable resource for leaders to upskill and train their teams. Upskilling can boost several aspects of a business's IT operations. Empowering team members to achieve AWS certifications benefits the organization through improved team competence, enhanced credibility, and staying current with the latest technology trends.

AWS certification has the following benefits for your organization:

  • Increased employee engagement and retention: Employees trained and certified in AWS are likelier to be engaged in their work and stay with their company.
  • Improved customer satisfaction: When IT professionals are trained and certified in AWS, they can better support customers and quickly resolve issues.
  • Reduced risk of outages and downtime: When IT professionals are trained and certified in AWS, they can better manage and maintain their infrastructure, which can help to reduce the risk of outages and downtime.

In addition to the benefits listed above, AWS training and certification can also help IT leaders to:

  • Build a pipeline of talent: AWS training and certification can help IT leaders identify and develop future leaders.
  • Attract and retain top talent: Investments in AWS training and professional development can help attract and retain top talent.
  • Meet regulatory compliance requirements: Some industries have regulatory compliance requirements that require training and certification.

Overall, AWS training and certification can provide many benefits to leaders. By investing in AWS training and certification, IT leaders can help their teams develop the skills they need to succeed in the cloud-native world.

How to Map Your Learning Journey

Everyone’s career takes twists and turns, so no two journeys will be the same. However, there are simplified paths that you can use as a guide or map for landing your ideal job or earning a certification. For an architect starting from the very beginning, it may look something like what’s illustrated below. You can find more examples here.

What this shows is a map to the finish line. It shows a starting point, the journey through the middle, and then the final stages before completion. But what does the end look like for you?

This is one of the best places to start. Ask yourself what you want to do or accomplish. What interests you? Are you after a certification or new skills? Answering questions like these can help bring clarity to what the journey ahead may look like — or at least the first few steps.

Keep reading to get more tips and guidance:

Step 1: Setting goals and assessing skills.

  • For learners, it’s important to have a goal to remain organized and motivated. Goals could be skills they want to build or a job they want to hold.
  • After setting their goals, the next step is to assess their knowledge and skills. This could be done through skills assessments. Knowing their strengths and gaps will help inform what training to take.
  • Next, delve into AWS-specific courses to gain in-depth knowledge of AWS services, best practices and roles. Consider training for industry-recognized certifications to validate your skills and stand out to potential employers.

Step 2: Gaining hands-on experience with AWS

  • Utilize AWS's Free Tier to experiment with AWS services and build practical projects without incurring costs.
  • Participate in hands-on AWS workshops and labs to gain practical experience deploying, managing, and troubleshooting AWS infrastructure.
  • Contribute to open-source projects on AWS to gain real-world experience and collaborate with experienced AWS professionals.

Step 3: Exploring Jobs You Aspire to

  • As mentioned, skilled professionals with expertise in AWS are in demand but short in supply. As learners work through their training, they should find opportunities to work with others who sit in the roles they want. This could be informative interviews or meetings, or it could be stretch projects that allow them to contribute to active projects while they learn.
  • Begin building a portfolio to showcase your skills and interests. And gather feedback from your network.
  • Finally, find resources to help you land the job. That could be resume building, interview prep, social networking and more. (See Codecademy’s Career Center to start.)

Step 4: Advancing to more senior AWS roles

  • With experience and expertise, you can progress to more specialty AWS roles.
  • In these roles, you will be responsible for designing, implementing, and managing complex AWS environments, ensuring their security, reliability, and scalability.
  • You will also have the opportunity to mentor and guide junior AWS professionals, contributing to the growth and development of the AWS community.

Step 5: Becoming an AWS expert and leader

  • As you gain experience and expertise, you can establish yourself as an AWS expert and leader in the field. You can contribute to AWS documentation, participate in open-source projects, and speak at AWS conferences to share your knowledge and insights.
  • You can pursue specialized AWS certifications, such as the AWS Certified Advanced Networking – Specialty or AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional certifications, to demonstrate your expertise further.
  • With continued dedication and expertise, you can advance to senior leadership positions, such as principal engineer or director, overseeing the strategy for an organization and leading a team of highly skilled professionals.

Remember, this is just one potential career journey. You can take many different paths to achieve your goals in the AWS Cloud and AWS services field. The most important thing is to learn, grow and seek opportunities to gain experience.

Start Your Learning Journey Today

AWS offers tech professionals at all levels unprecedented opportunities to enhance skills, innovate, and drive organizational growth. Explore certification training options through Global Knowledge and Skillsoft for comprehensive cloud mastery.

Transform your team with AWS skills. Discover comprehensive AWS certification training at Global Knowledge and Skillsoft, and start your journey to cloud excellence today.

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A Practical Guide to Mastering Real-World Compliance Scenarios https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/a-practical-guide-to-mastering-real-world-compliance-scenarios Wed, 17 Jan 2024 11:36:00 -0500 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/a-practical-guide-to-mastering-real-world-compliance-scenarios

When the captain activates the “fasten seatbelt” sign on an airplane, are you the type of person who studies the flight attendant’s face for signs of distress so you can effectively gauge whether you are really in danger? When a smoke alarm is activated, do you look around for any indication that it was triggered in error before finding the nearest exit?

In the face of an emergency, real or perceived, bystanders often hesitate to take action. Experts have hypothesized that this type of shock is driven by fear. The fear of being unable to assist effectively, a concern that we might misinterpret the situation and perceive a threat where none exists, and sometimes, anxiety about potential personal risks if we intervene.

First responders are trained to disregard these types of stress cues to effectively take action in an emergency, but I feel the rest of us could use some practice.

That said, getting the real-world practice you need by only watching a training video can be challenging – especially regarding compliance issues. And that’s where CAISYTM, Skillsoft’s Conversation AI Simulator, comes in. CAISY simulates honest conversations with AI-powered colleagues and delivers an output to recognize when you get the dialogue right. Conversely, it points out your blind spots and helps you improve on them.

When we launched CAISY in September, it primarily dealt with Leadership & Business scenarios related to first-time managers or diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). But now, CAISY boasts a handful of scenarios related to compliance. These include:

  • Best Practices for Protecting Personally Identifiable Information (PII)
  • Delivering Respectful Communication to Employees
  • Handling a report of Harassment or Discrimination
  • Strategic Business Activity or Bribe?

How Can CAISY Improve Your Organization’s Compliance Training?

Achieving and maintaining compliance in real-life situations is often trickier than training scenarios for various reasons. First, the real world is complex, and compliance usually involves navigating instant, dynamic situations with multiple variables.

Training scenarios may oversimplify or not fully capture the intricacies and challenges faced in everyday business operations. Additionally, human behavior can be unpredictable. Training scenarios may assume specific responses, but real-life situations involve diverse personalities, motivations, adrenaline levels and decision-making processes that are hard to replicate accurately.

Second, compliance probably intersects with your organization’s business operations. So, ensuring compliance may require coordination across departments and functions, introducing complexities that – again – may be simplified in training scenarios. Global events can also influence compliance efforts, and training scenarios may not adequately simulate the external pressures and uncertainties that organizations face.

And finally, real-life compliance issues sometimes involve ethical dilemmas and gray areas where the right course of action may not be clear-cut. Training scenarios may present more straightforward situations, not thoroughly preparing individuals for the ethical complexities they may encounter. For example, real-world problems demand quick and effective responses. They need to consider organizational culture, historical context, and specific industry dynamics, which training scenarios may not fully capture.

Skillsoft’s CAISY helps you build competence and confidence in handling unique compliance issues by providing employees with an emotionally safe space to practice difficult conversations and get feedback. Additional benefits include:

  • CAISY presents learners with a business scenario and plays the other person’s role in the conversation. Each conversation is unique, and reflective of the dynamic situations you might encounter in real life.
  • CAISY scores the interaction with a proficiency level.
  • CAISY identifies strengths and areas for improvement and will soon provide personalized learning recommendations to help the learner improve and try again.

We currently have 60 scenarios available within CAISY via Skillsoft Percipio, Skillsoft’s AI-driven online skilling platform, inclusive of our compliance scenarios. Consider some of the following compliance scenarios.

Best Practices for Protecting PII

How can you protect PII within your organization? Protecting PII is crucial to preventing data breaches, complying with regulations, and building a culture of security. This CAISY scenario ensures that your team knows what to say and do when a difficult situation arises that puts PII at risk. By identifying vulnerabilities and learning to address them within CAISY, your team can save costs associated with actual data breaches, maintain stakeholder trust, and ensure compliance with data protection regulations.

Delivering Respectful Communication to Employees

Every employee within your organization must practice respectful communication in alignment with your cultural norms.

Not only does this foster positive relationships, prevent misunderstandings, and enhance team collaboration, but it also helps to establish a culture of collaboration and compliance. CAISY enables a proactive approach that helps avoid conflicts arising from cultural differences, promotes inclusivity, and adapts leadership styles to suit diverse preferences.

Not only that but practicing respectful communication contributes to global business competence in an increasingly interconnected world.

Handling a Report of Harassment or Discrimination

Managers can use CAISY to practice taking reports of harassment or discrimination to ensure a swift, effective, and compliant response.

Not only does this create a safe and trusting work environment, but it also prevents escalation and contributes to the overall well-being of employees. By building trust and maintaining a positive organizational culture, managers can help your organization reduce liability and demonstrate a commitment to preventing and addressing inappropriate behavior.

Strategic Business Activity or Bribe?

Your team can benefit from hands-on practice assessing whether the circumstances of a gift, travel, or entertainment (GT&E) might be considered a bribe. Business is complex, and this topic, in particular, is often open to interpretation.

Regular practice with CAISY is an educational tool that helps managers and employees understand bribery risks, recognize red flags, and adhere to fair business practices.


Practice Makes Perfect: Navigating Difficult Compliance Situations Beyond Training Videos

Mastering compliance in the real world requires a nuanced understanding beyond the confines of training scenarios. The complexity of dynamic situations, the unpredictability of human behavior, and the intricate intersections of compliance with various organizational functions all contribute to the challenges faced in everyday business operations.

Achieving and maintaining compliance demands a comprehensive understanding of the multifaceted challenges that arise, acknowledging the uncertainties, ethical dilemmas, and intricate dynamics inherent in the complex tapestry of everyday business operations.

This depth of understanding can be captured via CAISY. It can empower individuals and organizations to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of compliance with resilience and integrity.

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The 20 Top-Paying Microsoft Certifications in 2024 https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/top-paying-microsoft-certifications Tue, 16 Jan 2024 07:26:00 -0500 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/top-paying-microsoft-certifications

More than any other vendor, Microsoft applications, services and capabilities sit at the top of tech leaders' priority list, according to Skillsoft's annual IT Skills and Salary Report. In fact, this has been the case for several years running — a trend that parallels the growing demand for what cloud computing offers.

The long-running migration to the cloud has convinced the world over of its benefits, from cost savings to flexibility, reliability and even security. But what holds many back from maturing their efforts is a skills gap.

Most tech leaders are dealing with an unwavering gap, given the pace of change in the industry and continued trouble hiring professionals with the skills they need. When it comes to cloud computing, only 13% feel very confident in their team's abilities. The majority (37%) of leaders assess their teams' skills as somewhere in the middle between novice and expert.

Cloud computing, in particular, has consistently been a trying discipline. This year, it's no different. It's the third toughest practice to hire for after AI and cybersecurity. Meanwhile, it's a top investment area for those in leadership, with the highest percentage of decision-makers specifying Microsoft as a priority.

Knowing this, it pays to know which skills or credentials can help organizations close their gaps.

Again this year, we dug into the IT Skills and Salary survey data to learn about the people who hold Microsoft certifications, how much they make (on average), and how these certifications benefit individuals and organizations. Around the world, 1,366 people reported having earned a Microsoft certification already — 346 reside in the US.

Keep reading to see the latest findings and see our methodology for this list at the end of the post.

The 20 Highest-Paying Microsoft Certifications Worldwide

CERTIFICATIONS
AVERAGE SALARY

Microsoft Certified: Azure Developer Associate

$100,512

Microsoft Certified: Azure Network Engineer Associate

$97,343

Microsoft 365 Certified: Administrator Expert

$95,953

Microsoft Certified: Cybersecurity Architect Expert

$94,321

Microsoft Certified: Azure Security Engineer Associate

$93,812

Microsoft Certified: Azure AI Engineer Associate

$93,789

Microsoft Certified: Azure DevOps Engineer Expert

$92,909

Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Engineer Associate

$87,417

Microsoft Certified: Windows Server Hybrid Administrator Associate

$86,971

Microsoft 365 Certified: Teams Administrator Associate

$85,446

Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert

$85,257

Microsoft Certified: DevOps Engineer Expert

$84,139

Microsoft Certified: Azure AI Fundamentals

$83,456

Microsoft Certified: Security Operations Analyst Associate

$82,364

Microsoft Certified: Identity and Access Administrator Associate

$81,316

Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Fundamentals

$79,327

Microsoft 365 Certified: Fundamentals

$75,368

Microsoft Certified: Security, Compliance, and Identity Fundamentals

$74,806

Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals

$74,430

Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate

$74,146

How to Earn Certifications like These

Microsoft's certification can be pivotal for IT professionals at all levels. Such certifications often increase earnings, lead to promotions, and far more.

See the training, whether that’s in-person

or on-demand, that can help you earn certifications like those listed above. Or, find courses on popular skills — like Python or C# — to support your mission to unlock these credentials.

What Do They Pay in the US?*

CERTIFICATIONS
AVERAGE SALARY

Microsoft Certified: Azure Developer Associate

$129,253

Microsoft Certified: Azure Network Engineer Associate

$180,580

Microsoft 365 Certified: Enterprise Administrator Expert

$150,356

Microsoft Certified: Cybersecurity Architect Expert

$147,740

Microsoft Certified: Azure Security Engineer Associate

$156,398

Microsoft Certified: Azure AI Engineer Associate

$98,042

Microsoft Certified: Azure DevOps Engineer Expert

$133,829

Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Engineer Associate

$124,778

Microsoft Certified: Windows Server Hybrid Administrator Associate

$149,971

Microsoft 365 Certified: Teams Administrator Associate

$151,077

Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert

$136,674

Microsoft Certified: DevOps Engineer Expert

$127,429

Microsoft Certified: Azure AI Fundamentals

$126,517

Microsoft Certified: Security Operations Analyst Associate

$118,643

Microsoft Certified: Identity and Access Administrator Associate

$122,059

Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Fundamentals

$115,182

Microsoft 365 Certified: Fundamentals

$124,911

Microsoft Certified: Security, Compliance, and Identity Fundamentals

$113,574

Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals

$120,461

Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate

$120,622

*Given the sample size of US respondents, the salaries presented here are for continuity only.

Characteristics of the Average Microsoft Certification-Holder

The average Microsoft certification-holder has unlocked more than one credential, often from more than one vendor or body, according to this year’s survey. Compared the year prior, the average certification-holder globally — including Microsoft and all other certification bodies we ask about — had nearly twice as many credentials, which can have an impact on their income, their role and more. Naturally, other factors affect earnings too, like whether they manage people or their tenure in the industry.

It's important to know that some overlap also exists among certification-holders. For example, those who reported having a foundational certification may also have one or more of Microsoft’s associate or expert-level role-based certifications too.

Below, find more context on what the average Microsoft certification-holder looks like. Then, keep reading to learn about the certifications listed above and what it takes to earn them.

Average age

39

Manage a team

40%

Have a cybersecurity certification

49%

Have earned a certification in the past year

71%

Average number of certifications

9

Common cross-certification bodies

AWS, CompTIA, ITIL

1. Microsoft Certified: Azure Developer Associate

The Azure Developer Associate certification is for developers specializing in creating, testing, and maintaining cloud applications on Azure. To qualify, candidates must pass the AZ-204 exam, testing their abilities to develop and secure Azure solutions, integrate services, and optimize application performance. These professionals can reliably develop compute solutions, working cross-functionally with others to meet business and technical requirements.

Microsoft recommends having at least two years of experience working with Azure and as a professional developer. You should be proficient in languages such as C# or Python and the following:

  • SDK
  • Data storage options
  • Data connections
  • APIs
  • App authentication and authorization
  • Compute and container deployment
  • Debugging

2. Microsoft 365 Certified: Administrator Expert

The Administrator Expert certification is for IT professionals who specialize in implementing, managing, and securing Microsoft 365 tenants. This certification demonstrates a commitment to best practices and helps organizations maximize the value and security of their Microsoft investments.

To qualify for this certification, candidates are required to pass the MS-102 exam. This exam evaluates a candidate’s knowledge and skills in managing identity, access, security, compliance, and supporting technologies, using Microsoft 365 solutions like Entra ID, Purview and Defender.

However, before sitting the exam, you must have earned a prerequisite associate-level certification:

  • Endpoint Administrator Associate
  • Messaging Administrator Associate
  • Team Administrator Associate
  • Identity and Access Administrator Associate
  • Information Protection and Compliance Administrator Associate

3. Microsoft Certified: Cybersecurity Architect Expert

Cybersecurity architects create an organization’s security strategy and work cross-functionally to put plans into motion. They must have deep expertise in implementing Zero Trust security strategies for a range of solutions, including identity, data, network, DevOps and more. Their domain doesn’t end there, often extending into GRC, SecOps and posture management.

To earn this expert-level certification, candidates must pass one of the following exams: SC-200, SC-300, or AZ-500, preferably before taking the main exam (SC-100). There are three prerequisite, associate-level certifications:

  • Azure Security Engineer Associate
  • Identity and Access Administrator Associate
  • Security Operations Analyst Associate

4. Microsoft Certified: Azure Security Engineer Associate

A Microsoft security engineer keeps a close eye on an organization’s resources. Their duties involve monitoring solutions across Azure and an organization’s infrastructure, while making recommendations to bolster efforts via security components or configurations. Incident management is also a part of the job, as is working with others to carry out security strategies.

To earn this certification, candidates must be able to administer an Azure environment, including hybrid or multicloud, and have experience with Microsoft’s solutions for compute, network and storage. Then, pass the AZ-500 exam.

5. Microsoft Certified: Azure AI Engineer Associate

Azure AI engineers develop end-to-end, secure solutions after gathering product requirements. These engineers work with architects and others across the development cycle to build, deploy, integrate, and maintain solutions across applications. Proficiency in C# and Python or similar languages is required.

You’ll unlock this certification once you’ve completed the AI-102 exam, which tests candidates on their abilities to develop a range of solutions — generative AI, natural language processing, computer vision — using Azure AI.

6. Microsoft Certified: DevOps Engineer Expert

The focus of DevOps engineers, according to Microsoft, is continuous delivery for the organization. You serve as a subject matter expert to develop solutions with your team. Most often, those with this certification are working with developers, SREs and Azure administrators to carry out strategies for a range of duties, including:

  • Collaboration
  • Source control
  • Security and compliance
  • Continuous integration
  • Testing and delivery

Experience developing in Azure is a requirement for those pursuing this certification, along with familiarity with GitHub. Candidates can earn this credential after completing a prerequisite certification — Azure Administrator Associate or Azure Developer Associate — and then passing the AZ-400 exam.

7. Microsoft Certified: Azure Enterprise Data Analyst Associate

Enterprise data analysts can manage a commensurate analytics solution. These professionals have advanced experience with Azure, Power BI and tools like Power Query. Those who work in these roles often do so alongside data engineers and scientists, architects and others whose mission is to also deliver advanced data analytics solutions.

Candidates must pass the DP-500 exam to earn this certification, which measures their abilities to manage an analytics environment and models, query and visualize data, and more.

8. Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Engineer Associate

The main objective of data engineers is bringing systems together to create meaningful solutions. Often, it’s fashioning a solution from a blend of sources into an intelligible dataset using tools of the trade. For this certification, that means being familiar with these Azure solutions: Data Factory, Synapse Analytics, Stream Analytics, and several others. Candidates must also be proficient in languages like SQL or Python.

An associate-level exam, there are no formal prerequisites for this certification. However, candidates must pass the DP-203 test, which verifies their abilities to design solutions for data storage and processing.

9. Microsoft Certified: Windows Server Hybrid Administrator Associate

Pursuing this certification requires a breadth of knowledge and expertise on managing Windows Server on-premises, hybrid and cloud workloads. Working collaboratively with other administrators or architects, these professionals manage solutions for identity, compute, networking and more. Their responsibilities encompass security, troubleshooting and disaster recovering too. Tools you must be familiar with:

  • Windows Admin Center
  • PowerShell
  • Azure Arc
  • IaaS virtual machine (VM) administration

Unlike some other Microsoft certifications, this one requires candidates pass two exams: AZ-800 and AZ-801. These test a candidate’s abilities on a plethora of skills, including managing Active Directory Domain Services, Windows Servers, virtual machines and containers, and far more.

10. Microsoft 365 Certified: Teams Administrator Associate

Those who intend to pursue this certification have a focus on managing their organization’s communication solutions, like Microsoft Teams and 365. This job encompasses working cross-functionally with others to manage workloads, implement Teams Phone or Rooms solutions, and uphold security and GRC.

Candidates will earn this certification after passing the MS-700 exam, which tests their knowledge on configuring a Teams environment, familiarity with tools like SharePoint, OneDrive, Exchange and Entra ID.

11. Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert

As an Azure Solutions Architect, these professionals plan and carry out well-architected solutions that meet business requirements. These solutions would involve everything from networking to disaster recovering and governance. This is a highly cross-functional role, often involving business stakeholders and partners across the IT department, including developers and engineers, who will support the proposed solutions. Architects going after this certification must be familiar with Azure administration and development, and DevOps processes.

Unlocking this certification starts with completing the prerequisite certification: Azure Administrator Associate. Then, candidates must pass the AZ-305 exam.

12. Microsoft Certified: DevOps Engineer Expert

DevOps engineers who wish to earn this certification work collaboratively, focus on continuous delivery, and know their way around Azure and GitHub. These professionals work with other developers, SREs and administrators to develop and deliver solutions that support their organization’s overarching strategies.

To earn this certification, candidates must first unlock a prerequisite certification — Azure Administrator Associate or Azure Developer Associate — and then pass the AZ-400 exam, which covers configuring processes, source control, release pipelines and more.

13. Microsoft Certified: Azure AI Fundamentals

A fundamental-level certification, this credential is the baseline starting point for a career in engineering or development or data science. It’s even suitable for students who plan on pursuing careers in artificial intelligence and want to deepen their knowledge of AI workloads, within the context of Azure. Microsoft says those who plan to sit the exam should have some knowledge of cloud concepts and client-server apps.

Earning this certification requires passing the AI-900 exam, which tests a candidate’s knowledge on AI workloads, the principles of machine learning on Azure, and more. It’s best suited for AI engineers, developers and scientists — or those who wish to hold down one of these jobs.

14. Microsoft Certified: Security Operations Analyst Associate

The main objective of a security operations analyst, according to Microsoft, is to reduce risk. This could mean staving off active threats or attacks, or it could mean bolstering an organization’s existing security strategy. Analysts often focus on threat hunting and incident response. When active, it’s important for these professionals to work with others in the organization to keep the systems secure.

Candidates must pass the SC-200 exam to unlock this certification. It tests their knowledge on mitigating threats, using tools like Microsoft 365 Defender and Sentinel.

15. Microsoft Certified: Identity and Access Administrator Associate

Administrators who chase this certification should have experience managing identity and access management for their organizations, inclusive of users, devices and workloads. According to Microsoft, candidates often work cross-collaboratively to provide users with access experiences that they can navigate independently. What benefits those who plan to sit the exam is experience with Microsoft Entra ID, automating tasks with PowerShell, and Kusto Query Language (KQL).

There are no formal prerequisites to earn this certification, but candidates must pass the SC-300 exam. It tests candidates’ knowledge on managing user identities, implementing authentication and governance.

16. Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Fundamentals

Like other fundamental-level certifications, this credential is the entry point for those who hope to work with data in the cloud, like database administrators or data analysts. While training for this certification, candidates learn about core data concepts and build on Azure Fundamentals.

Microsoft stresses the importance of knowing the skills tested before registering for the exam (DP-900). Candidates are tested on core data concepts, relational and non-relational data on Azure, and analytics workloads.

17. Microsoft 365 Certified: Fundamentals

By earning this certification, candidates prove their knowledge in the foundations of cloud computing and, more specifically, the Microsoft 365 platform. Those with this certification have validated their knowledge of core compute concepts, the benefits of the cloud, and several Microsoft products.

Those pursuing this certification must sit the MS-900 certification, which focuses on cloud concepts and the Microsoft 365 platform. Like other fundamental-level certifications, the exam for this one costs $99.

18. Microsoft Certified: Security, Compliance, and Identity Fundamentals

As is the case with other fundamental-level certifications, this is meant for those who wish to take the first step in their learning journey. Specifically, this one focuses on Microsoft’s security, compliance and identity (SCI) solutions. It helps validate a professional’s foundational knowledge of the solutions and the baseline concepts within each domain. Before sitting the exam, it helps to have familiarity with networking or cloud, and general experience with IT environments or specifically Microsoft 365.

Candidates must pass the SC-900 exam to earn this certification. It tests on the core SCI concepts and several Microsoft tools, like Entra ID. It costs $99.

Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals

This is the starting point for anyone whose career leads them to Azure. The goal behind this certification is to help candidates nail down the core concepts of working on the Azure platform and prepare for Microsoft’s role-based certifications that come after. Training for this certification covers the high-level administration and architecture of Azure. It helps to have experience in IT or similar fields prior to pursuing this one.

Interested this certification? You’ll have to sit the exam, AZ-900, which tests on cloud concepts, Azure management, architecture and more.

How We Built This List

This list of top-paying Microsoft certifications is based on survey responses from Skillsoft’s 2023 IT Skills and Salary Survey conducted from May to September 2023. The survey asks respondents about their current jobs and experience, certifications and salaries, and more. Respondents encounter multiple choice and multi-select, open-ended, rank choice, and other types of questions while taking the survey.

The survey is distributed to IT professionals around the world by technology providers (including Microsoft), certification bodies, and Skillsoft.

The focus of this list is on 1,366 respondents who reported having one or more Microsoft certifications. When reporting salary figures, Skillsoft looks for at least 50 survey responses before considering relevance, demand and other factors. The salaries reported for US-based respondents largely fall below that threshold, with two exceptions: Azure Fundamentals and Azure Administrator Associate. They are presented for continuity but lack statistical relevance. Salaries are not normalized for cost-of-living or location.

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Happy National Mentoring Month! https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/happy-national-mentoring-month Tue, 09 Jan 2024 08:51:00 -0500 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/happy-national-mentoring-month

January is National Mentoring Month, an annual celebration of the people who share their knowledge, experience, and support with individuals in a professional setting. National Mentoring Month was established 21 years ago by the Harvard School of Public Health to expand mentoring opportunities.

My guess is that you have benefited from mentors throughout your professional journey, much as I have. Great mentors have taught me how to lead in a way that builds those around me; how to create a personal brand that reflects both my character and competence; and how to steer my career in a way that makes a meaningful impact and brings me joy.

As you read this article, I invite you to reflect on what you’ve learned from your mentors as well as what impact you might have by mentoring others.

Exploring the Role of a Mentor

Generally, a mentor’s role is to foster their mentee’s growth, development, and success by offering guidance on career-related matters, sharing experiences, providing feedback, and serving as a role model. Mentoring relationships are often characterized by open communication, trust, and a mutual commitment to the mentee’s development. They can take various forms, from formal mentorship programs within organizations to informal, one-on-one connections between individuals.

Mentoring is certainly not new, and you might even be aware of some of the more publicized mentor/mentee relationships:

  • As far back as 400 BC, we know that Socrates mentored Plato. Plato, in turn, mentored Aristotle.
  • Steven Spielberg hired J.J. Abrams when he was just 16 years old to clean and tape old movies to prevent them from getting lost.
  • Bill Gates turned to Warren Buffett for advice on various business-related subjects.
  • And even in fiction, Professor Dumbledore mentored Harry Potter as he progressed through Hogwarts.

What’s the Difference Between Mentoring and Coaching?

Here at Skillsoft, we often see the concept of mentoring confused with coaching. And while the terms “mentor” and “coach” are often used interchangeably, there are subtle differences in their roles and approaches.

Purpose and Focus: A mentor typically provides guidance, support, and advice based on their own experiences and expertise – taking a more holistic approach to personal and professional development. A coach focuses on specific goals and objectives. Coaching is usually task-oriented, aiming to enhance performance, develop skills, or overcome specific challenges.

Relationship Dynamics: The mentor/mentee relationship is often more informal and may involve a long-term connection. Coaching, on the other hand, offers a more structured relationship and may be short-term or project-specific. Coaches work to facilitate the client’s self-discovery and problem-solving.

Expertise and Experience: Mentors typically have experience and expertise in the mentee’s field or industry. They draw upon their success and challenges to guide the mentee. Coaches may not necessarily have specific expertise in the client’s field. Instead, they use coaching skills to help clients explore and find their solutions.

Goal Setting: Mentoring may involve broader life and career discussions. Goals may be less specific and more focused on overall development. Conversely, coaching often consists of setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals. The coach helps the client work toward these goals.

Feedback and Evaluation: Mentors provide input based on personal experiences and observations. Evaluation is often more subjective. Coaches provide feedback based on observed behaviors and outcomes. Evaluation is often more objective and tied to specific goals.

Initiation of Relationship: Mentoring relationships may develop more organically, often initiated by a senior professional offering guidance to a junior one. Coaching relationships are usually undertaken by the individual seeking coaching or by an organization for specific skill development.

In practice, individuals may exhibit characteristics of both mentors and coaches, and the terms are sometimes used interchangeably depending on the context. However, understanding these nuances can help select the most appropriate support for different situations.

View Skillsoft’s Coaching Corner 15-minute webinar series to better understand who our coaches are and what a coaching relationship might look like for your organization.

How Hybrid Work Has Altered Mentorship

At Skillsoft, our coaching program is primarily virtual – which has translated well into this new era of hybrid work. However, mentorship has become more complicated as it must increasingly occur in virtual settings.

Today, it is expected to see mentorship interactions occur through video calls, emails, and other digital communication tools, allowing for flexibility and accessibility. And while this means that mentors and mentees must make a concerted effort to schedule time with each other, the silver lining is that participants can coordinate meetings around their work and personal commitments – making mentorship more accessible and accommodating for both parties.

Hybrid work has also enabled mentorship relationships to transcend geographical boundaries. Mentors and mentees can connect and collaborate regardless of physical location, providing opportunities for diverse perspectives and global networking. And because hybrid work often involves various technologies and digital platforms, mentors may now guide mentees on leveraging technology for professional development, such as virtual training, online courses, and digital networking.

Finally, because hybrid work places a greater emphasis on outcomes and results rather than traditional measures of work based on physical presence, mentors may help mentees set and achieve goals in this results-oriented environment. In some ways, this is reminiscent of coaching, where establishing specific and actionable goals is a crucial component of employee success.

Read more about Adobe’s initiative to provide leadership coaching at scale.

Are you looking to establish a coaching program at your organization? Download our free guide on how to build future-fit leaders through coaching.

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Learn How to Give Feedback https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/learn-how-to-give-feedback Tue, 09 Jan 2024 08:45:00 -0500 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/learn-how-to-give-feedback

Feedback is an effective way of coaching people to do the best work they can.

But providing direct, specific, and actionable feedback can be intimidating. It is a power skill, and one that managers typically learn over time as they become more experienced. Not to mention, there are conflicting opinions about how to best offer feedback. Here are many popular models of doing this, but here are two that come to mind:

1. The Feedback Sandwich

When I first became a manager, I was told that the easiest way to provide negative feedback was to “sandwich it” between compliments or praise. For example, “You are so creative. But, your recent project strayed too far from our brand message, so we’ll have to revamp it. I can’t wait to see what ideas you come up with next.

However, according to Wharton Professor Adam Grant, data shows that “Giving a compliment sandwich might make the giver feel good, but it doesn’t help the receiver.” And he might be right. Feedback must be direct and actionable – and the feedback sandwich leaves too much room for ambiguity.

2. The Situation-Behavior-Impact (SBI) Method

Often held as the gold standard in giving feedback, the SBI Method is relatively straightforward. Call attention to what happened, talk about the specific behaviors you observed, and explain the impact of those behaviors on the team or the organization. In this way, you can provide context for the feedback and offer team members constructive advice for improvement.

Some professionals follow the SBII Method of feedback, which adds “intent” as a last step in the process. Managers are encouraged to inquire about the original intent behind the behavior of their direct reports. This helps to draw a parallel between the impact and the intent and create more coachable moments.

But how can you give your managers low-risk opportunities to develop their feedback skills – before embarking on these difficult conversations in real life?

Skillsoft CAISY Conversation AI Simulator, an innovative GenAI-based tool for simulating business and leadership conversational skills, can provide your employees with an emotionally safe space to practice important business conversations with an AI-powered trainer.

Why is this important for your organization? According to a VitalSmarts survey, every failed conversation at work costs an average of $7,500 in time and resources, and even worse, employees waste seven days or more. Yet, people are still hesitant to provide direct feedback:

  • 72% of workers fail to speak up when a fellow worker fails to pull their weight
  • 68% don't speak up when they see someone disrespected
  • 55% fail to speak up when there is confusion about decision rights

CAISY is one way to enable feedback. It can help you find gaps in your communication style without exposing yourself to the vulnerability of a real human being until you create a plan to fill these gaps. It is the definition of a judgement-free zone!

CAISY provides personalized feedback via 60+ scenarios, including “Coaching Your Team” and “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).” Learn more about the scenarios in these two categories, below.

CAISY Scenarios for Coaching Your Team

Coaching a Struggling Employee: Practicing coaching scenarios in advance of experiencing them can help your managers refine their communication and motivational skills, ensuring a more constructive and supportive interaction. Managers can anticipate potential reactions and plan strategies to handle them, fostering a more confident and empathetic coaching experience.

Managing Up / Delegating Up: It can be awkward to ask a superior to complete a necessary task. But by rehearsing the delegation process, individuals can become more adept at matching tasks with the skills and strengths of their managers, while also enhancing their ability to navigate organizational dynamics and promote a more streamlined and productive workflow.

Coaching an Employee through Career Development: Preparation allows managers to anticipate potential questions or concerns their employees may have about their career paths, enabling them to provide well-thought-out and insightful responses.

CAISY Scenarios for DEI

Embracing Psychological Safety: By rehearsing scenarios, a manager can develop the skills needed to actively listen, validate diverse perspectives, and respond empathetically. This might also help the manager to anticipate potential challenges in fostering psychological safety and develop strategies to address them effectively.

Creating an Inclusive Environment: Understand the nuances of fostering inclusivity, including identifying potential biases and addressing unconscious prejudices that may hinder inclusivity. By rehearsing inclusive practices, managers can develop the skills necessary to communicate effectively and ensure that team members from diverse backgrounds feel valued and respected. This proactive approach also helps the manager anticipate potential challenges in promoting inclusivity and implement strategies to overcome them, contributing to a more supportive workplace culture.

Making Decisions Inclusively: Managers may assess potential biases and consider diverse perspectives, ensuring that their decisions are fair and equitable. By rehearsing the decision-making process, managers can refine their skills in actively seeking input from a variety of team members and promote a culture of inclusion and diversity.

Understanding Implicit Biases: Recognize and acknowledge biases and foster self-awareness that is essential for effective leadership. By rehearsing scenarios and understanding implicit bias, managers can develop the skills needed to make more informed and unbiased decisions, creating a fairer and more inclusive workplace.

Addressing Micro-behaviors in Team Meetings: Develop the skills needed to recognize subtle, potentially harmful behaviors that may go unnoticed by others. Then refine your ability to address these micro-behaviors in a constructive and sensitive manner, fostering a more inclusive and respectful team environment.

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Feedback is a gift.” Not only does it help employees understand what is expected of them, but it clarifies how they might meet those expectations. Providing regular feedback can help to build trust and improve communication between managers and employees, leading to a more positive work environment, increased employee engagement and motivation, and better business outcomes.

If your organization is looking for a way to empower its managers to give more effective feedback via low-stakes practice conversations made possible by artificial intelligence, we can help.

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The Jobs A.I. Can and Cannot Replace (and Why You Shouldn't Worry) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/ai-isnt-taking-your-job Mon, 08 Jan 2024 00:00:00 -0500 alec.olson@skillsoft.com (Alec Olson) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/ai-isnt-taking-your-job

If you’re worried about whether or not AI will affect your job, you must reframe your thinking. It’s not an if. It’s a when.

But will it replace you — a human employee at work? The answer isn’t straight forward right now, but we’ll cover which jobs are most at risk and which are safer (and why).

Here’s the short answer: AI is already replacing some jobs or taking over some aspects of work across disciplines. In the not-so-distant future, it will play a greater role augmenting your work. Some research suggests AI will impact 80% of all roles.

Here’s the good news: The many types of AI — generative AI, machine learning, and so on — are unlikely to fully replace the lion’s share of humans anytime soon. In many cases, it’s also become a beacon of hope for those working in industries struggling with talent scarcity and a skills gap.

Artificial intelligence shows incredible promise. AI models can process information at a remarkable scale. They can complete repetitive tasks with unmatched speed and precision. They are even producing admirable creative work.

When it comes to job competition, theoretically AI is a strong candidate. But it has shortcomings — a skills gap — that we’ll cover soon.

Even still, it’s here to stay. “It's crucial to understand that AI tools aren't a fleeting trend, but rather a mainstay in our everyday professional lives. Leaders ignoring this advancement risk falling behind,” says Koma Gandy, VP of Leadership and Business Solutions at Skillsoft, in a recent blog.

While AI may seem scary at first, the more that people and organizations learn how to responsibly use the technology, the more opportunities will come from it.

But this leaves many questions unanswered. What exactly is going to change? And what jobs are most at risk? Which skills should I prioritize?

Here, we’ve collated reports and evidence that will help provide some clarity. Keep reading to find answers.

Read Next: 4 Compelling Reasons to AI Use Among Employees

Which Jobs Are Most at Risk of Replacement by AI?

If you or others around you are truly worried about your job being taken by AI, it’s understandable why you’d feel that way.

Reports of thousands of jobs already lost thanks to AI have circulated the web, chronicling the rapid replacement of workers and the complications that followed. Further, a Goldman Sachs report estimated that 300 million full-time jobs could be replaced too. Findings from a World Economic Forum (WEF) report shows a similar forecast.

But what’s behind these numbers? How worried should you actually be?

Let’s address this head-on.

Is AI replacing jobs? In short, yes. Some jobs are being or projected to be replaced by artificial intelligence in some capacity. However, many will not be in part or whole.

A Stanford University economist studying the impacts of AI told Business Insider that the future isn’t a jobless dystopia run by machines.

"I do not think we'll see mass unemployment," says Erik Brynjolfsson, a Stanford University economist, in the article. "But I do think we'll see mass disruption, where a lot of wages for some jobs will fall, wages for other jobs will rise, and we'll be shifting around into demand for different kinds of skills.”

More detailed projections of which jobs will experience disruption is told in the WEF’s Future of Jobs Report, which surveyed 803 companies, representing 11.3 million workers.

According to the report, technological change and adoption are the primary reasons why these are the 10 fastest declining jobs:

  1. Data entry clerks
  2. Administrative and executive secretaries
  3. Accounting, bookkeeping and payroll clerks
  4. Security guards
  5. Building caretakers and housekeepers
  6. Cashiers and ticket clerks
  7. Material-recording and stock-keeping clerks
  8. Assembly and factory workers
  9. Post service clerks
  10. Bank tellers

Part of the reason why these jobs are phasing out is simply because of generative AI’s ability to automate and accomplish an array of tasks quickly and accurately.

The range of its ability is vast, but it’s important to know that tools like these still benefit from (and often require) human input, oversight and judgement — especially to ensure ethical use or adoption.

For the tasks that generative AI excels at, it’s work taken away from a human. But that can be a good thing and here’s why: It’s an opportunity to reskill or upskill in areas that are highly in demand today but suffer talent shortages or gaps.

Consider this from the Goldman Sachs report: “The good news is that worker displacement from automation has historically been offset by creation of new jobs, and the emergence of new occupations following technological innovations accounts for the vast majority of long-run employment growth.”

Although AI shows great promise, a major hurdle in the trek forward is how people feel today: Worried. “Leaders must provide opportunities for talent to interact with AI comfortably, helping to mitigate this fear, fostering intrigue, and positioning AI as a valuable co-pilot rather than an intimidating concept,” says Skillsoft’s Gandy.

Today, the knowledge and skills gap in AI is significant, creating an urgent need for training. For those employees most at risk of losing work to AI, the onus shifts to leaders and employers to help their workforces adapt. Taking no action will allow fears to fester.

Free Course:Intro to Generative AI by Codecademy

AI Has a Skills Gap Too. Which Jobs Are ‘Safest?’

While AI is great at many things, it has shortcomings that separate people from machine.

The WEF report shows which jobs are growing the fastest and are insulated from replacement by AI.

Here are the top 10:

  1. Agricultural equipment operators
  2. Heavy truck and bus drivers
  3. Vocational education teachers
  4. Mechanics and machinery repairers
  5. Business development professionals
  6. Building frame and related trades workers
  7. University and higher education teachers
  8. Electrotechnology engineers
  9. Sheet and structural metal workers, moulders and welders
  10. Special education teachers

AI can’t fully replace a human’s judgement or attention to the nuances of the work involved in the roles listed. Further, any job that requires a high degree of social interaction or emotional intelligence, creativity or innovation, and similar skills are further from replacement too.

Power skills like these are either at the fringe of or beyond AI’s abilities today, given the very human nature of the role. What’s more, a recent Skillsoft report shows a growing importance on power skills — which AI can actually help sharpen.

Skills like team or interpersonal communication, empathetic leadership, and resilience are deciding factors for potential job candidates and deemed among the most significant for those in leadership. The WEF report also highlights skills like these as growing in demand, with “creative thinking” at the top.

These skills are innately human and harder to program. That’s why AI isn’t a foolproof replacement. And it’s not meant to be. That’s why you see terms like “copilot” or “agent” used to describe the AI-human relationship.

It’s a tool that can help when it’s needed and make room for the most important work yet to be done.

Read Next: Meet Skillsoft CAISY Conversation AI Simulator: Your Organization’s New Best Friend in Business Communication - Skillsoft

AI Presents Opportunities for Growth

A Pew Research report shows the mixed feelings U.S. workers have toward AI. However, in those fields with more exposure to AI, the more people feel the technology will help not hurt.

While it’s understandable to be uncertain, people shouldn’t let the anxiety around AI overshadow the benefits that will come from it. AI will unburden teams that are short on resources and talent. This will help alleviate the consequences of their situation: the stress, the gaps, and the over-whelming feelings that come with a mountainous workload.

This is also true for those who may feel most threatened. By leaning on AI to cover the work that it’s best suited for, it allows humans to take on work that they’re best suited for.

Instead of data entry or administrative work, what are the opportunities for internal career mobility? What aspirations do those employees have? What skills do they possess today that could help them upskill into a new role?

Investing in workforce transformation will benefit those individuals who may fear replacement the most, while complementing an organization’s ongoing development strategy.

The point is: There shouldn’t be fear and anxiety about this.

It’s a time of opportunity.

In the coming year, all organizations must make concerted efforts toward writing a formal policy, educating their workforce about these technologies and the implications they may have for their jobs. Doing so will help dispel fears that some hold, and even more importantly, it’ll help show how AI can support workers.

As you consider what the future holds for you or your workforce, it’s important to consider where AI’s aptitude starts and stops.

Skillsoft can help. We’ve been prepared for this shift for a long time coming, as we’ve hired and upskilled our teams internally to infuse AI into our platform and training. What’s more, we offer training on the many facets of AI for both technical and non-technical learners, including on popular tools like OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

Dive into our training catalog to see what’s available and reach out to our team to learn more.

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Sustainability at Work: The Importance of Intersectional Frameworks and Collaboration in ESG Initiatives https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/sustainability-at-work-the-importance-of-intersectional-frameworks-and-collaboration-in-esg-initiatives Wed, 03 Jan 2024 07:48:00 -0500 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/sustainability-at-work-the-importance-of-intersectional-frameworks-and-collaboration-in-esg-initiatives

Organizational intersection and collaboration are extremely important for building and understanding many inclusion and equity initiatives, including Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG).

And while an organization’s ESG program must reflect its corporate strategy, it can be strengthened by the inclusion of a range of employee voices. As business leaders, it is our job to promote an intersectional approach to help turn valuable ideas into actionable change.

Learn How One Energy Data and Intelligence Company Approaches Sustainability

As part of our Sustainability at Work series, where we speak with sustainability professionals about the skills and competencies that they bring to the job and what’s trending in sustainability right now, we interviewed Whitney Eaton and Gabriel Rolland from TGS, a global energy data and intelligence company headquartered in Norway. During the conversation, we heard about how they approach sustainability and ESG at their organization.

As the executive vice president of people and sustainability at TGS, Eaton’s role is intrinsic to the company’s ESG program. With a background in law and anti-corruption compliance, she joined TGS with the understanding that she would be running the global compliance department in the organization. As part of compliance, the company incorporated sustainability reporting into her responsibilities, and she oversaw updating and implementing a sustainability strategy for TGS.

Rolland is vice president of corporate QHSE at TGS. With a background in geography and QHSE (Quality, Health, Safety, and the Environment), he has held many roles within TGS. He was approached by Eaton as soon as he became responsible for QHSE to aid in the development of the ESG program at TGS and build the foundation for an internal ESG work group.

From the onset, the goal of TGS’ ESG program was to determine what, exactly, ESG meant to the company; and then, to formulate a strategy that reflected these values. In his own words, Rolland described the beginning stages of their progress as “setting our vision around ESG and how we could make the most of it.”

The Importance of Intersection and Collaboration

Eaton told us: “When I look for sustainability professionals to support my organization, I always start internally first.” She knows that sustainability isn't new. It's simply a different view into company strategy – and it is accessible to every employee who cares to participate.

“I think that roles with a cross-organizational perspective – those that collaborate across teams – are great for sustainability,” she said. Since not many job seekers come from a strictly sustainable background, sustainability roles require a person to have translatable skills.

These might include:

  • Communication: Sustainability professionals need to effectively communicate sustainability goals, strategies, and progress to internal and external stakeholders, such as employees, customers, investors, and the public.
  • Problem-solving: Sustainability roles often involve identifying and addressing environmental and social challenges, such as reducing carbon emissions, minimizing waste, or ensuring ethical sourcing. Problem-solving skills are critical in finding sustainable solutions to these issues.
  • Time management: Efficiently managing sustainability projects and initiatives, including setting and meeting sustainability targets and deadlines, is crucial for achieving long-term sustainability goals.
  • Leadership: Sustainability leaders and advocates play a key role in driving sustainability initiatives within an organization. They need leadership skills to inspire, guide, and engage teams and stakeholders in sustainability efforts.
  • Critical thinking: Sustainability professionals must critically evaluate environmental and social impacts, assess risks, and make informed decisions about sustainable practices and investments.
  • Adaptability: The field of sustainability is constantly evolving, with new regulations, technologies, and best practices emerging. Adaptability is necessary to stay current and continuously improve sustainability efforts.
  • Data analysis: Sustainability roles often involve collecting and analyzing data related to environmental and social metrics, such as energy consumption, water usage, waste generation, and community engagement. Data analysis skills are essential for measuring and reporting on sustainability performance.
  • Customer service: Building strong relationships with customers or stakeholders who prioritize sustainability is important for organizations seeking to attract and retain environmentally conscious consumers.
  • Project management: Sustainability initiatives often involve managing complex projects, such as renewable energy installations, waste reduction programs, or sustainable supply chain management. Strong project management skills are essential for these efforts.
  • Research skills: Sustainability professionals may need to research emerging sustainability trends, technologies, or best practices to inform their strategies and decision-making.
  • Technical skills: Some sustainability roles may require technical skills in areas such as renewable energy systems, environmental modeling, or sustainability reporting software.
  • Financial literacy: Understanding the financial implications of sustainability investments and cost-saving measures is essential for developing business cases and securing resources for sustainability initiatives.
  • Creative thinking: Innovative solutions and fresh ideas are often necessary for addressing sustainability challenges and finding new ways to improve environmental and social performance.
  • Interpersonal skills: Collaboration and teamwork are critical for sustainability professionals who often work with cross-functional teams, supply chain partners, and external stakeholders to achieve sustainability goals.

Eaton shared some advice for anyone looking to get into sustainability: “It’s crucial that you understand what your organization does—not just what they do today, but what they want to do in the future—and understand how that intersects with the other work that is happening across the company.”

That’s why training is such a crucial aspect of making sure employees are able to get involved and contribute to sustainability initiatives within their company. Understanding, managing, and mitigating risk as part of an effective compliance training program goes hand-in-hand with creating value through ESG initiatives, and having an intersectional team makes it so that a multitude of perspectives and professional opinions are represented in your strategy.

Employee Engagement Is Critical

According to research, 77% of consumers are motivated to purchase from companies committed to making the world a better place. But, sustainability also gets your employees engaged.

Effective sustainability strategies invite all employees to play a role – making them feel like they’re proactively contributing to something beyond the bottom line of the business. Eaton described sustainability as “something that reinvigorates and generates excitement within your workforce.”

It’s a great way to develop your workforce and give people an opportunity to contribute differently. For example, TGS has been picking up marine debris through its operations around the world. Recently, the company took one step forward to highlight these efforts to a bigger audience and show their employees and consumers how they’ve been successfully working on this sustainability and environmental initiative over the years. Employees and stakeholders were thrilled to see the real-world output of the company’s sustainability initiatives.

Furthermore, TGS recently placed solar parking canopies in the employee parking lot. This idea came from an employee suggestion and helps power the company headquarters as well as provides energy back to the Texas power grid.

Sustainability Initiatives Are a Two-Way Street

Rolland said that sustainability “definitely starts from the top” to set the vision and message, and then trickles down through the rest of the organization. That’s why it’s important for leaders to be open with employees, providing them with opportunities to share new ideas they’d like to bring to the table to improve ESG strategy and vision or sustainability initiatives in offices and out in the field.

Creating a dedicated ESG committee for your organization is vital in elevating and prioritizing ESG issues within an organization. Additionally, it facilitates transparent communication of ESG performance to stakeholders, promoting trust and attracting possible investors, customers, and talent.

To hear all about Eaton and Rolland’s sustainability initiatives at TGS, watch their video today! And, make sure to check out the rest of the Sustainability at Workseries for more insights about sustainability in the workplace and beyond.

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ICYMI: Top 5 Takeaways from Perspectives 2023 https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/icymi-top-5-takeaways-from-perspectives-2023 Tue, 02 Jan 2024 08:06:00 -0500 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/icymi-top-5-takeaways-from-perspectives-2023

Skillsoft hosted Perspectives 2023, a virtual event that brought together thought leaders and customers to discuss the changing learning landscape and the evolving needs of employees and employers.

With a focus on redefining work, Perspectives panels and sessions focused on key areas within learning and development, such as leadership, digital transformation, upskilling and reskilling, and so much more.

In case you missed it, here are the top five learning and development takeaways from the event:

1. Roles and Responsibilities will Evolve in the Age of Generative AI

The rapid progress of Generative AI has unlocked a multitude of possibilities, revolutionizing various sectors and promising to drivesignificant economic growth in the future. As AI continues to advance, organizations need to adapt their workforce to effectively leverage the power of these AI technologies.

In the session, Redefining Work in the Age of Generative AI, Skillsoft CEO Jeff Tarr shed light

on how organizations can align their workforce with the changing landscape and ensure that employees have the skills and knowledge to thrive in an AI-driven world.

He highlighted the importance of a growth mindset and a commitment to lifelong learning for individuals who want to succeed in this AI-powered era. By embracing new technologies and learning how to work alongside AI systems, individuals can enhance their own capabilities and job prospects.

Additionally, organizations must invest in learning and development programs that equip their employees with the necessary skills to collaborate with AI tools and maximize their potential.

2. Businesses Must Focus on Developing Strong Middle Managers

In today's fast-paced business environment, middle managers play a crucial role in driving organizational success. However, the intense pressure to meet business objectives while also addressing the needs of their teams often presents a significant challenge for these key leaders. Recognizing the importance of strong leadership at all levels, organizations are increasingly acknowledging the need for comprehensive leadership development and compliance programs tailored specifically for middle management.

During a customer panel session, Navigating The Messy Middle, attendees had the opportunity to explore the essential components required to cultivate and nurture effective middle management leaders.

The discussion centered around practical strategies for building and enhancing holistic learning programs that equip middle managers with the power skills necessary to inspire and guide their teams.

Through a combination of robust leadership development initiatives and compliance training, companies can foster a culture of excellence and accountability at every level.

3. Reskilling and Upskilling Is Key to Employee Growth

In an environment where technology evolves at an unprecedented pace, it is crucial for individuals and organizations alike to adapt and acquire new skills in order to remain competitive.

Staying relevant and competitive in today's workforce hinges on continuous learning and acquiring new skills. By embracing the concept of continuous learning and skill acquisition, both individuals and organizations can position themselves for success in the digital landscape.

During the more technical panel discussions at Perspectives, such as Reskilling and Upskilling In An Ever-Changing Tech World, and Retaining Tech Talent: How to Transform Skills Within Your IT Organization, our customers and Skillsoft leaders emphasized the importance of overcoming time constraints and prioritizing reskilling and upskilling. Attendees had the opportunity to explore various strategies shared by our panelists, discovering practical approaches to incorporate ongoing learning into their daily lives.

Furthermore, the sessions shed light on effective strategies for nurturing and developing existing talent pools, leading to transformative growth within organizations. Attendees gained valuable insights into strategies for effectively nurturing and developing their teamsPrograms that focus on talent development ensure employees possess the requisite skills and knowledge to thrive in the ever-changing tech climate.

By addressing the challenges associated with retaining top tech talent and promoting transformative growth, organizations can create an environment that fosters innovation and drives overall success.

4. Invest in Comprehensive Employee Development for the Most Effective Federal Training Programs

Federal agencies have long grappled with challenges related to talent acquisition, development, and retention. These obstacles primarily stem from a protracted hiring process, reactive workforce planning, and ineffective recruiting practices.

To overcome these barriers, one of the most critical solutions is investing in comprehensive training and employee development programs. However, developing training initiatives that cater to the diverse needs of all federal agencies requires careful coordination and effort.

At Perspectives, Skillsoft’s Senior Vice President and General Manager of Global Compliance Solutions Kevin Kelly had the opportunity to engage with compliance professionals in the public sector who shared insights into their strategic approach to training and employee development.

The discussion focused on driving efficiencies, mitigating risks, and ensuring the safety of employees. By implementing a holistic and forward-thinking training strategy, these professionals are revolutionizing the way federal agencies invest in their workforce.

5. Empower Employees with Power Skills Through Coaching

Coaching has emerged as a powerful tool for professional development, offering employees the opportunity to cultivate essential power skills such as communication, strategic thinking, and empathy.

By embracing coaching as a means of developing leadership competencies, organizations can create a culture of continuous growth and empower their workforce with the skills needed to lead in the modern workforce.

In the panel session, Power of Coaching, Skillsoft customers explored how coaching enables individuals to unlock their full potential, conquer obstacles, and achieve their goals. They provided insights into the management and implementation of leadership development and coaching programs in organizations today for employees at all levels.

Perspectives 2023 aimed to equip organizations with the insights and strategies needed to thrive in the rapidly changing digital landscape. The event provided a platform for industry leaders, including speakers from Unisys, Humana, and BAE Systems, to share their expertise and engage in meaningful discussions. The key takeaways highlighted above offer valuable insights that organizations can leverage to navigate the challenges and opportunities presented by the digital age.

In case you missed Perspectives 2023, you can access it on-demand here.

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2024 Digital Learning Predictions – Skillsoft Experts Weigh In https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/2024-digital-learning-predictions-skillsoft-experts-weigh-in Wed, 27 Dec 2023 06:32:00 -0500 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/2024-digital-learning-predictions-skillsoft-experts-weigh-in

Artificial intelligence was on everyone’s mind this past year as the decades-old technology went mainstream, impacting the business landscape in a way we haven’t seen since the introduction of Excel and PowerPoint in the office.

We saw AI and generative AI tools have a renaissance in 2023 as the technology quickly changed how we work. This year, leaders and talent must enable and employ their use to catch up to the competition. But the technology will not just impact how we work but how we learn.

I chatted with several Skillsoft experts to shed light on the shifting landscape of digital learning and workforce transformation this year. Let’s take a look.

Generative AI Will Usher in a New Era of Interactive Learning.

Apratim Purakayastha, CTO & CPO

The shift from passive to active learning will be much more advanced in 2024, as blended, interactive modalities become the gold standard of training.

We are moving out of the era of video-based training, which has dominated the learning and development space over the last 15 years, and toward a future where hands-on, human-centric learning experiences will become the norm. This is driven by two key trends: the rise of digital social interactions and the advancement of AI.

What’s key to blended, interactive learning modalities is the “human element.” It can include hands-on platforms like Codecademy or conversation simulators like CAISY, as well as online coaching, instructor-led training, or bootcamps.

The goal of learning and development professionals in 2024 and beyond will be to deliver these interactive, deeply human learning experiences at scale.

The Big Shift Is Here. Goodbye Job Descriptions, Hello Skill Profiles.

Mark Onisk, Chief Content Officer

We, as an economy, have been talking about the idea of the “skills-based organization” for quite some time. Next year, we’ll see a radical shift in businesses moving this from concept to operational model, departing from the traditional idea of jobs and prioritizing skills to maximize talent output.

There are numerous legacy talent operations models heavily indexed around job descriptions, tenure, education requirements, and more still being used. While removing these barriers has been a hurdle, the advancement of generative AI will streamline the ability to define someone’s position by the skills they possess and contribute.

By standardizing skill definitions, organizations can expedite the movement to a skills-based talent management lifecycle and move beyond the traditional confines of a job.

This means greater business agility and innovation, and a workforce powered by growth and autonomy.

Mitigating Fear and Enabling Fascination: How AI Training is Changing in 2024.

Koma Gandy, VP of Leadership and Business Solutions

AI and generative AI skills will continue to be a priority for leaders in 2024. Because of this, it’s important to work through the trepidation of AI toward ethical, productive uses of the technology.

To paraphrase Dr. Joy Buolamwini, talent is caught between fascination and fear when it comes to AI. Leaders must provide opportunities for talent to interact with AI comfortably, helping to mitigate this fear, fostering intrigue, and positioning AI as a valuable co-pilot rather than an intimidating concept.

It's crucial to understand that AI tools aren't a fleeting trend, but rather a mainstay in our everyday professional lives. Leaders ignoring this advancement risk falling behind. Leaders must strap in and educate themselves about AI to lead their teams effectively.

CCOs Must Understand the Three A’s in 2024 – Alignment, AI, And Advancement.

Asha Palmer, SVP, Compliance Solutions

Chief Compliance Officers (CCOs) will be challenged in 2024 to go beyond their roles and continue to be leaders, educators, and strategists all at once. CCOs will need to understand, manage, and focus on three A’s – Alignment, AI, and Advancement – to ensure successful compliance and training programs for their organizations.

It will be crucial for CCOs to ensure that their organization's practices and policies are in alignment with one another. Organizations that effectively align and integrate their commitments to diversity, compliance, and risk management into their day-to-day practices and operations will stand out. To just have a policy is insufficient, and organizations who only pay lip service to the principles expressed in their policies without true integration into the fabric of the organization — its people and its mission — will find themselves at a disadvantage.

AI awareness and adoption for compliance are imperative. The recent Executive Order (EO) from President Biden is a testament to this. As the EO and corresponding United States Office of Management and Budget guidance make clear, not only should organizations assess the opportunities presented by AI use, but they must simultaneously think through the responsible and ethical use of that AI, particularly generative AI. Many leaders are struggling to balance their (or their organizations’) trepidation versus fascination with this technology. Organizations that educate their employees on AI and generative AI can mitigate those feelings. Companies that invest in upskilling and reskilling their employees to harness the power of AI effectively and safely will differentiate themselves and grow.

As we’ve seen over the last few years, the responsibilities of a CCO will expand and advance to manage risks associated with human rights, ESG, AI, supply chain, data privacy, and cybersecurity. As such, companies will need to mature and broaden their compliance programs to handle this increased complexity. CCOs will need to be leaders in aligning policies with practices, educators in upskilling their teams, and strategists in advancing their compliance programs.

Looking Ahead

This year's predictions are underscored by a mutual goal for employees and employers. Workers aspire to more fulfilling professional paths, while businesses are keen on cultivating an adaptable, enduring, and uniquely skilled workforce. Attaining this shared objective will hinge upon significant investments in education and upskilling. Companies will also need to pivot to future-oriented talent strategies, focusing not just on immediate job roles but also on long-term potential. As Skillsoft SMEs have shared, investing in education and professional growth is not an added advantage but rather an imperative requirement for the longevity and triumph of any business in the evolving corporate landscape.

Interested in learning how Skillsoft can support you in the new year? Read more about our solutions and products and request a demo today.

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Discussing the Impact and Opportunity of GenAI in Workforce Development https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/discussing-the-impact-and-opportunity-of-genai-in-workforce-development Wed, 27 Dec 2023 05:45:00 -0500 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/discussing-the-impact-and-opportunity-of-genai-in-workforce-development

According to research conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, at least 80% of all jobs will be influenced, changed, or augmented by generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) in some way. We need to prepare ourselves for this paradigm shift.

Recently, I was fortunate to sit with some colleagues at Skillsoft to discuss the transforming landscape of learning and the impact and opportunity of GenAI in workforce development. We explored the implications that this technology is having on how we work together, learn, upskill, reskill, and transform our skills for the future.

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report revealed that 33% of all work can already be automated by artificial intelligence (AI) or other forms of mechanization or robotics. In just five years’ time, WEF anticipates this figure could rise – pretty dramatically – to 42%. That’s a nine-point increase in the automation rate over just five years!

This level of disruption calls for new strategies to address workforce development challenges. At Skillsoft, we believe that staying ahead requires continuous learning and upskilling across industries.

And this is especially true for GenAI, which has the potential to enable your workforce to become more efficient while creating new opportunities for innovation. That's why there has never been a more critical time for individuals and businesses to invest in skill transformation.

The Realistic and Responsible Use of AI in Business

AI is not new; it has been a hot topic for quite some time now, with many businesses exploring the ways they can leverage the technology to improve their operations. However, as with any type of technology, there are many considerations that must be taken into account before diving in.

Asha Palmer, Skillsoft’s senior vice president, compliance solutions, kicked off our recent discussion with a question: What tasks within your organization can be realistically and responsibly performed by AI? She believes that leaders’ failure to consider this question with an open mind might be a detriment to organizations.

Palmer gave a powerful example – a customer who had implemented a complete moratorium on GenAI for nine months after it became generally available. The organization soon realized that employees were still using the technology – it was just happening without their guidance. As a result, the organization had to scramble to establish governance policies and procedures with its employees after the fact.

Other organizations might be fearful of adopting GenAI for security reasons, cost or resource concerns, fear of job displacement, or even ethical considerations. “If you do not have an AI policy in your organization,” said Palmer, “you are behind.”

Do you have a GenAI policy in your organization? Here’s how to write one.So, why then, are organizations still hesitant to embrace GenAI? Perhaps it is because the possibilities of the technology overshadow its actual capabilities, said Koma Gandy, vice president, Leadership & Business solutions at Skillsoft.

Gandy warned, “It's important not to overestimate what AI can do so that we can best understand its limitations. We need to ensure that we’re using AI in realistic ways by focusing on practical benefits rather than just theoretical possibilities.”

Human judgment is still critical in tasks that require nuance. While machines may perform certain tasks more efficiently than humans, they lack the emotional intelligence and critical thinking skills necessary for complex decision-making processes. Therefore, a good place to start is to determine which tasks require human intervention and which ones can be automated through AI.

Overcoming Organizational Inertia and Fear with Skillsoft’s Training Programs

While the potential benefits of GenAI are immense, the technology also comes with its fair share of risks and challenges. The fear of losing jobs and exposing organizations to risk can create organizational inertia that hinders progress. However, with the right training programs, organizations can overcome this fear and embrace GenAI as a value-add.

As Gandy rightly pointed out, people are somewhere on the continuum between fear and fascination when it comes to AI. Skillsoft's training programs focus on practical benefits that encourage fascination rather than fear. With action verbs like “learn,” “understand,” “mitigate,” our courses empower learners to take control of their learning experience.

“We’ve been ready for this for years,” said Greg Fuller, Skillsoft’s senior director of Codecademy technology content. He was referring to how tech workers have always had solutions software ready to go. What’s changed recently is computing power – the ability to do things at scale. This development has allowed tech workers to maximize their expertise by automating repetitive tasks like copy-pasting or other mundane activities. Skillsoft’s training programs are designed to equip you with skills that will enable you to leverage this newfound power effectively.

Using GenAI to Enhance Power Skills

Fuller reiterated the importance of soft skills through the lens of tech training: “The traditional approach to tech training has focused on providing practice scenarios and labs around software-based tools. However, the tech industry has spent fewer resources equipping employees with soft skills like decision-making. There just hasn’t been a tool for that. Yet, tech workers face complex situations every day, ranging from data breaches to communication and collaboration with other teams.”

At Skillsoft, we’ve found a way to use GenAI as a training tool for power skills (what we call soft skills). Skillsoft’s CAISY Conversation AI Simulator is an innovative GenAI-based tool for simulating business and leadership conversation skills. It makes difficult work conversations easier by providing employees with an emotionally safe space to practice important conversations with an AI-powered trainer. CAISY not only plays the role of the other person within the conversation, but also provides personalized feedback and guidance on communication style to guide development.

By simulating real-life scenarios, CAISY enables learners to gain hands-on experience in decision-making processes and best practices. This ensures that they can confidently handle any situation that arises in their day-to-day work.

Another exciting aspect of CAISY is its flexibility in adapting to specific industries’ needs. Many organizations struggle with adopting training programs that meet their specific requirements due to differences in industry norms and practices. With CAISY’s customizable features, organizations can easily tailor their training programs to their own needs.

CAISY also uses data analytics to continually track learners’ progress throughout the course of the program. This helps instructors identify areas where learners may be struggling and provide targeted support where necessary.

How GenAI Enhances Learning and Communication at Skillsoft

How do other organizations incorporate GenAI into their products? Fuller said that it's not enough to simply have access to GenAI; you need people who know how to use it effectively. Without this knowledge, your organization may struggle with inefficiencies or even face security risks.

For example, the rise of GenAI has exposed a technology skill gap in the workplace. Companies across different sectors are struggling to fill vacant positions that require specialized skills, which has led to an even wider tech talent shortage. As organizations continue to adopt AI solutions, they must address the gap by upskilling their workforce.

At Skillsoft, we understand the importance of providing our learners with effective and efficient ways of acquiring knowledge. That’s why we’re exploring the potential of GenAI to enhance our training programs and improve communication between teams.

Beyond the promise of CAISY, there are many benefits of using GenAI in learning and communication. Within Skillsoft’s platform alone, organizations can:

  • Personalize content. GenAI makes it possible to provide learners with personalized content that meets their needs and preferences. By analyzing data on their past performance, interests, and goals, GenAI can suggest relevant courses and resources to help them achieve their objectives.
  • Save time. By personalizing content, Skillsoft is able to save time for both the learner and the administrator by reducing the need for manual inputting or suggestions from others. With GenAI, learners can access the content they need quickly and efficiently.
  • Improve understanding. GenAI can help make learning more palatable, understandable, and applicable to daily life by chunking down a continuum of learning into smaller pieces. It can help us sequence courses in a way that ensures learners get from start to finish in an optimal manner. As a result, we can deliver more content to our learners more quickly than ever before.
  • Communicate more effectively. GenAI can help individuals communicate better with their teams by suggesting ways to be succinct while conveying ideas effectively. Whether drafting memos or composing emails, GenAI can provide guidance on how to hit the right tone for maximum impact. This will ultimately lead to better collaboration between colleagues.
  • Automate administrative tasks. GenAI is able to automate certain administrative tasks like curriculum outlines or assessments. It takes away some of the manual work involved in developing courses or figuring out how best to sequence them so learners get what they need when they need it. This frees up time for administrators to focus on other aspects of their job.

Consider this popular proverb: “If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything.”

This is especially true with GenAI. By proactively establishing an AI policy for your organization – and training your employees to use the technology ethically and effectively – you are taking a stand against the fear and uncertainty that so often punctuates the conversation.

I’d encourage you to talk about GenAI in your organization. Create learning opportunities around GenAI. Put guardrails around employee usage of GenAI. And importantly, help society establish a narrative around GenAI that we can all be a part of – and doesn’t leave anyone behind.

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Create a Safe Space for First-Time Managers to Develop Management Skills https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/create-a-safe-space-for-first-time-managers-to-develop-management-skills Thu, 21 Dec 2023 09:00:00 -0500 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/create-a-safe-space-for-first-time-managers-to-develop-management-skills

Organizations are likely to look to their highest-performing employees when promoting from within, but a high-performing individual contributor doesn’t necessarily translate to a high-performing first-time manager. The skill set for the two roles is very different, as you can see from the chart below.

Skills for First-time Managers

That’s why, without proper training — and because they are truly learning a whole new skillset — first-time managers are apt to struggle with their new responsibilities. Just look at some statistics from the Center for Creative Leadership:

  • According to their subordinates, 20% of first-time managers are doing a poor job
  • 26% of first-time managers feel they weren’t ready to lead others
  • Almost 60% say they never received any training when they transitioned into their first leadership role

It’s clear that first-time people managers are struggling. But, because management is so people-oriented, it might be difficult for new managers to find a true-to-life way to hone their new skills. After all, there isn't a great way for first-time managers to “practice” the types of conversations they might have with their direct reports before they have them.

Active Learning: Bridging the Gap Between Theory and Practice

Enter Skillsoft CAISYTM Conversation AI Simulator, an innovative generative AI (GenAI)-based tool for developing crucial business and leadership skills through simulated conversations. CAISY makes difficult work conversations easier by providing employees with an emotionally safe space to practice with an AI-powered trainer and learn from personalized feedback.

CAISY not only plays the role of the other person within the conversation but also provides personalized feedback and guidance on communication style to guide development. This is known as active learning – an approach to instruction that involves actively engaging learners with the topic at hand. Active learning provides the following benefits:

  • Better outcomes. Active learning through CAISY promotes knowledge acquisition and skill development. Emphasizing real-world scenarios and simulations enables managers to apply theoretical knowledge to practical situations and develop problem-solving skills.
  • More engagement. It enhances learner motivation and engagement by transforming the learning experience from passive to participatory. First-time managers can actively apply their knowledge and skills through practical experiences and challenges, making learning more relevant and stimulating.
  • More application. It gives learners more opportunities to transfer their new skills to their work. When they are compelled to actively apply theoretical concepts to concrete situations, first-time managers gain a deeper understanding of the applicability of their lessons – building the confidence and competence needed for effective decision-making and leadership.

CAISY Scenarios for First-Time Managers

By January 2024, Skillsoft will have a total of 60 scenarios available within CAISY via Skillsoft Percipio, Skillsoft’s AI-driven online skilling platform.

Fourteen of these scenarios relate to first-time managers:

Accountability: With CAISY, first-time managers can practice taking responsibility for their actions and decisions, cultivating trust within their teams. When team members are confident that their manager will uphold commitments and address issues directly, managers are able to foster a culture of accountability across the team.

Delegation: Delegation is not simply assigning tasks; it's about entrusting responsibilities and empowering team members to make decisions. It is a skill that not only alleviates a manager’s workload but also fosters growth and development within the team. Practicing task delegation makes it easier for managers to free up more time to focus on strategic planning and decision-making.

Developing People: Developing people goes beyond simply improving their skills for the job at hand — it involves nurturing their potential, encouraging their growth, and helping them achieve their career ambitions. Managers who invest time and resources in their team members’ development foster a positive work culture where individuals feel valued and empowered.

Discussing Compensation: This sensitive topic requires delicacy, transparency, and fairness — and, therefore, some practice. Getting more comfortable with compensation discussions before they happen allows managers to effectively address any concerns their team members may have, thereby maintaining morale, productivity, and a sense of loyalty within the team. Inadequately handled, these conversations could lead to dissatisfaction, demotivation, and even attrition.

Interested in learning about the top-paying IT certifications moving into 2024? Read more here.

Driving Execution: Managers who are skilled at driving execution can ensure that team members are aligned with project goals, understand their roles, and are motivated to complete their tasks on time and to the required standard. An execution-oriented manager fosters a proactive work environment where team members are empowered to take initiative and work toward a common objective.

Emotional Intelligence: Emotional intelligence enables managers to empathize with their team members, understand their motivations and concerns, and respond effectively. This fosters a positive work environment where team members feel heard, understood, and valued. Managers with high emotional intelligence are better equipped to handle stress, resolve conflicts, and navigate challenging situations.

Managing a Cross-functional Team: Managing people with different backgrounds and skill sets exposes managers to various perspectives and ways of thinking, which can aid decision-making and problem-solving. A well-managed and diverse cross-functional team can quickly adapt to changes, enhance the quality of output, and significantly contribute to achieving organizational objectives.

Managing a Hybrid Team: Hybrid teams bring together the best of both worlds, allowing organizations to tap into a wider talent pool and offering employees the flexibility they crave. However, managing such a team requires understanding the unique challenges and opportunities hybrid work presents. Effective communication, team cohesion, and a sense of inclusivity and equality, regardless of where team members are located, are important skills to hone for first-time managers.

Setting Team Goals for Productivity: Effective goal setting provides a clear direction and roadmap for the team, aligning individual efforts with the broader organizational objectives. It encourages focus, fosters commitment, and enhances motivation among team members to achieve desired outcomes.

Strategic Thinking: Strategic thinking involves seeing the big picture, anticipating future trends or challenges, and devising comprehensive plans to achieve long-term objectives. With CAISY, first-time managers can practice steering their team in the right direction, making informed decisions, and allocating resources efficiently.

Potential and Expectations: Recognizing the potential in team members allows managers to align the right set of skills with tasks, foster personal development, and capitalize on strengths. Setting clear expectations provides a roadmap for team members, enabling them to understand what is required of them and how their contributions align with larger organizational goals.

Forming a Team: Assembling a team is not just about grouping individuals together; it’s about identifying the right mix of skills, personalities, and values that can synergize effectively. Managers who successfully form a team lay the groundwork for collaboration, innovation, and higher productivity.

Performance Reviews: Performance reviews offer a structured approach for providing feedback, setting goals, and identifying areas for improvement. They serve as a two-way communication channel, allowing managers to understand their team members' concerns and aspirations while sharing their own expectations. And for many first-time managers, simulating these conversations before they happen is integral to ensuring they go smoothly.

Starting Difficult Conversations: Whether they are related to performance issues, interpersonal conflicts, or process changes, difficult conversations are often challenging but necessary for maintaining a healthy team dynamic. Being able to handle such discussions with tact and sensitivity can prevent the escalation of issues, foster open communication, and cultivate a transparent work environment.

While many people believe that power skills are inherent, we’ve seen that they are actually a combination of inherent traits and learned behaviors. While some individuals may naturally possess certain qualities that contribute to effective communication and relationship-building, others can develop and enhance these skills through conscious effort and practice. And even if someone has a natural predisposition for strong interpersonal skills, there is still room for improvement and refinement through learning and experience.

Like any skill, practice is essential for improvement. Engaging in various professional situations through CAISY provides first-time managers with significant and impactful opportunities to apply and refine their skill sets.

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Sustainability at Work: Christopher Wellise on the Intersection of Business and Sustainability https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/sustainability-at-work-christopher-wellise-on-the-intersection-of-business-and-sustainability Wed, 20 Dec 2023 23:04:00 -0500 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/sustainability-at-work-christopher-wellise-on-the-intersection-of-business-and-sustainability

Maybe you recycle. Maybe you drive an electric vehicle. Individuals certainly play a critical role in making the world around us more sustainable.

But true change tends to happen at the enterprise level. The bigger the organization, the more impactful their decisions tend to be on society at large. That’s why careers in sustainability are no longer just nice-to-have within organizations, they're a necessity.

But many professionals wonder where to start and how to garner the skills necessary to be successful. Christopher Wellise was one of those people. He has dedicated his professional career to sustainability and helping organizations execute sustainable workflows, practically and responsibly.

Meet Christopher Wellise

Wellise is an accomplished leader in sustainability. As the Vice President of Global Sustainability at Equinix, he brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the role, driving Equinix's sustainable business strategy and innovation.

See how Equinix has built a robust safety training program, globally.

Wellise has an impressive academic background, holding a Bachelors in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Master's degree in International Relations and Economics from Johns Hopkins University. He has dedicated more than a decade of his career to Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), serving in various roles that include Director of ESG Strategic Initiatives, and Director of Sustainability and Social Innovation.

“When I went to university, I always knew I wanted to work at the intersection of business and environment, but no one really knew what that looked like then. So, my educational background is actually business finance, and I have a master's degree in environmental science. I really continued to push myself to work at that intersection. And really that’s when I began my career.”

Wellise's passion for sustainability and his dedication to driving change are evident in his work. He is a strong advocate for leveraging technology and innovation to solve some of the world's most pressing environmental challenges. His leadership in this space is a testament to his commitment to creating a more sustainable and inclusive future.

The Intersection of Business and Sustainability

As corporations wield significant influence over our planet's resources, their operational strategies can profoundly impact environmental sustainability.

Discover everything your organization needs to know about ESG here.

Let's review three key areas where business and environment intersect: resource use and efficiency, waste management, and climate change mitigation.

  1. Resource Use and Efficiency: Businesses rely on natural resources for their production processes, whether it's water for manufacturing, raw materials for products, or energy for operations. The way these resources are managed significantly impacts the environment. Efficient use of resources not only reduces environmental harm but also decreases operational costs, making sustainability a smart business strategy.
  2. Waste Management: Every business generates waste, from physical byproducts to emissions. Effective waste management strategies, such as recycling and adopting circular economy principles, can help businesses reduce their environmental footprint while potentially creating new revenue streams.
  3. Climate Change Mitigation: Businesses play a crucial role in addressing climate change. By adopting sustainable practices, like switching to renewable energy sources and investing in carbon offset projects, businesses can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, these actions can enhance brand reputation and attract environmentally conscious customers and investors.

Understanding these issues provides a comprehensive view of how businesses can contribute to environmental preservation while also benefiting their bottom line.

Do you have the right opinions on your ESG steering committee? Find Out

Getting Down to Business

And as the demand for sustainability professionals continues to grow, there are multiple ways for professionals with business backgrounds to embark on a career in ESG.

  • Volunteering: Volunteering provides an excellent opportunity to understand an organization's needs and explore how you might assist. It allows you to gain hands-on experience in sustainability while also demonstrating your commitment to potential employers.
  • Upskilling: With the rise of green careers, improving your green skills has become essential. This could be through vocational training or earning sustainability credentials. Such skills not only enhance your employability but also prepare you for emerging career opportunities.

Read more about Skillsoft’s new sustainability training options.

  • Networking: Building relationships within the sustainability sector can open up job opportunities and provide valuable insights into the industry. Engage with professionals, attend industry events, and join sustainability-focused groups to expand your network.

Christopher’s advice: start a meter deep and 100 meters wide.

Remember, sustainability is a broad field with a variety of roles. Researching the industry, identifying your areas of interest, and tailoring your strengths to these areas can help you find a career path that aligns with your passion and skills.

A career in sustainability means you are part of a global movement, working to safeguard our resources and create a more equitable, sustainable future for all.

Christopher Wellise's journey is a testament to what can be achieved when passion meets purpose. And remember, it's not only about what you can do for the environment but also how your actions can create ripple effects that improve corporate culture, increase operational efficiency, and even boost the bottom line.

The intersection of business and sustainability is not just an emerging trend—it's the future. It's about understanding and optimizing resource use, managing waste effectively, and playing a significant role in climate change mitigation. And it's a realm where innovative problem-solvers, strategic thinkers, and passionate advocates for the environment are desperately needed. Whether you start by volunteering, upskilling, or networking, every step you take is a move toward a greener and more sustainable future.

Remember, start a meter deep and 100 meters wide. There are countless opportunities in this field, waiting for individuals to dive in and make a difference.

Interested in other career paths in sustainability? Check out the series!

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How Individual Development Plans Help Close Skill Gaps — and 5 Best Practices to Follow https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/how-individual-development-plans-help-close-skill-gaps-and-5-best-practices-to-follow Tue, 19 Dec 2023 11:47:00 -0500 alec.olson@skillsoft.com (Alec Olson) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/how-individual-development-plans-help-close-skill-gaps-and-5-best-practices-to-follow

IDPs don’t box employees in — they open doors. That’s precisely why they can help drive workforce transformation efforts.

Across industries and around the world, employees and their employers are experiencing a skill set upheaval. Game-changing technologies like generative AI are irrevocably altering how people work — in and outside of IT — and organizations are struggling to keep up.

According to the World Economic Forum, 60% of global organizations face skill gaps today. One often underutilized approach to professional development may be able to help close them: individual development plans.

The individual development plan (IDP), also called an individual coaching plan, is a personalized, dynamic approach to employee learning. Working with a coach or other mentor, employees identify concrete professional goals and build strategic, actionable plans to reach them.

It’s worth noting that an IDP is not the same thing as a performance improvement plan (PIP), which aims to help poor performers get up to speed. IDPs, and coaching more broadly, are programs that every employee can benefit from, especially in today’s environment.

In fact, IDPs are particularly well suited for the creative — maybe even dramatic — workforce transformations that many organizations need now. That’s because IDPs don’t box employees into predefined tracks.

Instead, IDPs encourage employees to think big and provide them with the resources and guidance they need to reach those goals. This inventive approach to upskilling and reskilling is precisely what many companies are looking for.

So, why aren’t IDPs more common? For the same reason that many innovative best practices go unadopted: Many organizations simply aren’t sure how to do it.

The Anatomy of an Individual Development Plan

The first step in bringing IDPs to an organization is understanding what an IDP entails. While there are numerous frameworks for developing coaching plans, there are some key components every IDP includes, regardless of methodology.

  • The IDP identifies a clear goal or objective the employee wants to achieve. For example, “I want to become a leader within my department.”
  • The IDP inventories both the employee’s current strengths and opportunities for improvement. An employee who wants to become a leader may already have subject matter expertise, but they may need to work on their communication and people management skills.
  • The IDP establishes action steps the employee will take to reach their goal. For the employee who wants to become a leader in their department, this might entail things like taking management classes and serving in a leadership role on a smaller test project.
  • The IDP sets a clear timeline for reaching the goal and identifies milestones along the way. Our hypothetical employee might aim for a promotion within the year, plus an interim milestone to lead at least one project in the next six months.

Importantly, none of these key details should be imposed on the employee from above. Rather, IDP development should be a collaborative process between the employee, their manager, and their coach.

There are a couple of reasons why employees should help drive IDP creation. First, adult learners tend to be more engaged and motivated when they have a hand in directing their own learning. Second, IDPs are meant to be aspirational rather than prescriptive. Instead of forcing employees into narrow boxes, IDPs should be opening doors.

Ideally, employees will work with both their managers and a coach to create and pursue their IDPs. The coach brings the necessary development expertise to the process, while the manager can provide a critical organizational perspective to help ensure alignment between employee goals and corporate needs.

Plus, managers who get involved with an employee’s IDP signal that they are invested in the employee’s success. That can have a powerful impact on retention and engagement.

While managers may want to take an active role in employee development, many don’t feel equipped to do so. It’s often a good idea to give managers some training of their own so they can more fully participate in the IDP process.

Employees don’t always have access to formal coaching programs. In those cases, organizations can still implement IDPs, with managers fulfilling the coach role. It’s not ideal, but it is doable. Of course, it’s even more critical in these instances that managers receive training on how to develop their employees.

5 Best Practices for Effective IDPs

Now that we’ve covered what IDPs are, let’s look at how organizations can make the most of them.

1. Focus on Self-Discovery

In the context of workforce transformation, it can be tempting to take a top-down approach to IDPs, mandating that employees prioritize learning the specific skills the company’s talent strategy calls for.

However, the most effective coaches lead employees on a process of self-discovery, with the aim of enabling them to identify their own goals and strategies for growth. Learners who conduct this type of self-analysis tend to be more intrinsically motivated and achieve better learning outcomes. This, in turn, helps drive workforce transformation and organizational performance.

When working with employees to develop IDPs, managers and coaches can encourage self-discovery by asking the right questions. Start by encouraging employees to think aspirationally about where they want to go in their careers. Then, refine this blue-sky thinking into an actionable IDP by asking questions like:

  • Probing questions that get employees thinking deeply about their goals. For example: “What does ‘becoming a leader’ look like to you? What behaviors would you adopt and demonstrate as a leader?”
  • Outcome-oriented questions that help employees tie their goals to specific outcomes. For example, “What benefits will your team gain from your improved leadership capabilities? What benefits will you gain?”
  • Execution-oriented questions that prompt employees to plan the concrete steps they will take to reach their goals. For example, “What’s one thing you can do right away to start showing more leadership in your department?”

2. Tie IDPs to Real-World Outcomes for Both the Employee and the Organization

We mentioned it in the previous tip, but it’s so critical that it deserves its own spot on this list. While IDPs should be aspirational to some degree, they also need to be practical — in the sense that they’re achievable and lead to real benefits.

Linking IDPs to tangible outcomes can motivate employees, as it gives them a reward to focus on. It also helps the organization and employee align their needs so that the IDP serves both.

Let’s turn again to the example of an employee who wants to ascend to a leadership position in their department. The outcomes for the employee are clear: a promotion, a more prestigious title, and probably a salary bump.

This IDP would have benefits for the organization, too. To become a leader, the employee must sharpen skills like team communication, analytical thinking, creative thinking, resilience, and flexibility. Not so coincidentally, these are also some of the most prized core skills among employers today, according to the World Economic Forum.

One way to tie IDPs to real-world outcomes is by helping employees turn their IDPs into a set of connected SMART goals. As a reminder, SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Not only do SMART goals explicitly ask employees to define outcomes in the “relevant” phase, but they also make long-term IDPs more approachable by breaking them down into smaller steps with a clear timeframe.

SMART goals also encourage accountability by creating a series of milestones. Employees always know their next step and how it relates to their overarching goal. Mentors and coaches can track progress via these milestones and help employees get back on track if they miss a goal.

3. Opt for a More Dynamic Approach to Development

Annual performance management cycles aren’t terribly effective. In fact, research shows they can even lead to performance decreases.

Smaller, more frequent check-ins can be more useful, especially for IDPs. As mentioned above, employees often break their IDPs into smaller SMART goals to make them more achievable. More frequent check-ins allow managers and coaches to better keep track of these goals.

Managers and coaches can also offer employees feedback and resources in real time. Employees can immediately apply these insights to their situations rather than waiting for a retrospective at the end of the year, by which point it’s too late to course-correct.

As for the cadence of these smaller meetings, that depends on many factors. Employees and their coaches typically meet regularly. Finding time can be difficult for managers, who often have more than just IDPs on their plates. One popular method is for managers to meet with every team member for 30 minutes every month.

To make the most of these smaller performance meetings, employees, coaches, and managers should all come to the table with clear agendas. This helps ensure that everyone’s limited time is used productively.

4. Connect Employees with Multimodal Learning Resources

IDPs are about empowering employees to define and pursue their own development goals. That doesn’t mean managers and coaches can just step back and watch. Rather, managers and coaches can help employees reach their goals by connecting them with the right resources, people, and opportunities.

It’s important to connect employees with a variety of learning resources, from hands-on practice and real-world experiences to books, audiobooks, videos, classroom instruction, and more. Offering various types of resources helps ensure that all learners are supported, no matter their preferences. It also encourages deeper learning. Research shows that training is more effective when it engages multiple senses.

5. Support IDPs with Resources and Recognition

Even with the best of intentions and all the best practices in place, an organization’s IDP program may fail if employees, coaches, and managers don’t have the support they need.

Support mainly comes in two forms. The first is resources. As mentioned above, connecting employees with multimodal learning resources is critical. To do that, coaches and managers themselves need access to said resources. Whether by investing in a learning platform, implementing formal coaching programs for employees, or other means, organizations must ensure that people have the materials they need to drive employee learning.

The second form of support is recognition. Creating, adopting, and following through on an IDP is no easy feat. Employees who reach their goals should be recognized for their efforts. Managers and coaches should also be appreciated for making employee development a priority.

Recognition isn’t just a nice thing to do — it can also help motivate people to adopt their own IDPs.

Transforming the Workforce with IDPs

In the constantly evolving world of work, individual development plans (IDPs) may be a crucial tool for closing pernicious skill gaps. Unlike traditional, one-size-fits-all training programs, IDPs offer a bespoke approach to learning that helps enhance employee skills while aligning individual professional goals with broader organizational mandates for workforce transformation.

At Skillsoft, we know that rolling out individualized coaching for every employee is a lot easier said than done — but we have the tools to help. Our AI-driven skilling platform, Percipio, helps users connect with relevant, personalized learning recommendations based on their career goals and aspirations. Our digital coaching platform brings executive-quality coaching to leaders at every level.

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What Organizations Can Learn from the World Climate Conference (COP28) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/what-organizations-can-learn-from-the-world-climate-conference Mon, 18 Dec 2023 10:08:00 -0500 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/what-organizations-can-learn-from-the-world-climate-conference

A landmark moment has occurred in the fight for climate action.

After lengthy negotiations at this year’s World Climate Conference (COP28) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, the conference closed on December 13 with 200 countries agreeing to transition away from fossil fuels. It is the first time such an agreement has been reached in 28 years of international climate negotiations.

A first draft of the climate deal was released early-on in the conference, but was immediately criticized by many countries—including the United States, Australia, Canada, Chile, the European Union, and Norway—as being too weak because it omitted a “phase-out” of fossil fuels. This caused the conference to go on a few days longer than expected until a more forceful call for action could be included in the final agreement.

Nations have now entered “the beginning of the end” of the fossil fuel era by laying the groundwork for a quick, just, and equitable transition to cleaner energy sources. It’s clear that making a valuable difference requires unification of leaders from around the world.

But government leaders aren’t the only ones who need to step up. Global business leaders must follow their lead, taking cues to establish their own environmental and social initiatives. Which begs the question: How are business leaders approaching their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives and their corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives?

Take a look at Skillsoft’s recent Corporate Social Responsibility at Work report, which benchmarks our collective progress in corporate social responsibility so organizations can have a more informed picture of the CSR landscape moving forward – including how it connects to the greater push for environmental activism.

Putting the "Corporate" in Social Responsibility

Environmental activism, after all, is inextricably intertwined with social activism.

In order for a company to be successful, leaders must dedicate time, resources, and training to ensure that they are able to tackle important social issues. Our CSR at Work report reflected that other organizations feel similarly, with respondents citing the following factors as key to a successful CSR program:

  • Investing in long-term plans (35%)
  • Committing time and people resources in addition to money (32%)
  • Creating authentic connections and partnerships (20%)
  • Integrating our efforts into all teams within the company (12%)

This year’s climate conference went far beyond solely advocating for climate action, with full days dedicated to tackling pressing issues like how to build a new climate finance environment that would serve to address gender and economic inequalities.

A focus on global collaboration to work towards a better future for everyone is important to emulate on a corporate level.

But how much of an impact can your company really have when considered in the same vein as a global movement? The biggest changes always start out small. By implementing vigorous ESG and CSR initiatives, you can effectively inspire members of your organization to take necessary strides towards making a difference, something whose effects also make for a happier, healthier, and more successful work environment.

After all, when individuals and organizations approach environmental initiatives with clarity and purpose, we can make significant strides in social and climate action. That’s why we’re invested in dedicating resources to understanding what social issues matter to companies and their employees and how they put their words into action.

Learn how one utility company is using training as a tool to support its ESG initiatives.

This Year’s Trends in CSR

In the past, many organizations were solely focused on turning a profit when conducting business. However, things look a bit different today as businesses are now expected to do the “right thing” for the greater good.

Results from our 2023 Corporate Social Responsibility at Work report show that business leaders recognize the impact of CSR on company success and that employees are becoming invested in contributing to a rapidly changing world.

The top CSR priorities from our survey respondents mirrored top focuses from COP28, such as:

  1. Diversity, equity, and inclusion
  2. Improving labor policies
  3. Participating in fair trade
  4. Learning and education

These similarities prove that activism trends in the international social and climate landscape are reinforced within organizations.

Furthermore, being an activist for employees is not just a moral imperative; it’s also a strategic one. Our survey shows that consistent activism has numerous benefits for employees by demonstrating genuine concern for their well-being and encouraging engagement, retention, and loyalty.

But, if your organization decides to take a stand, it is imperative that you have clear goals and measurable outcomes when it comes to what actions you’re implementing and why. Therefore, it’s important that company leaders take actionable steps to hold themselves and the people around them accountable, and organization-wide training is a great first step.

Look at how training can become an integral part of your sustainability strategy.

Key Wins from COP28 and the Global Commitment to Social Responsibility

This year there were many major wins from the Climate Conference. Here are a few key ones:

  1. A commitment to transitioning away from fossil fuels.
  2. The mobilization of over $57 billion to support priorities across the global climate agenda.
  3. The announcement of eight new declarations to help transform every major system of the global economy, including the first ever declarations on food systems transformation.
  4. Major declarations on renewable energy and efficiency, as well as initiatives to decarbonize heavy emissions.

Overall, this conference signals a new era of climate action on the road to 2030 and provides an opportunity for the international community to unite behind a shared commitment for more expansive and urgent social and climate action.

When we commit to taking steps to fight against climate change, we are also committing to helping fight against socioeconomic and gender inequality on a national and international scale.

So, in the words of the conference presidency: “Enough waiting. It’s time to take action.”

Learn more about how your organization can take strides towards implementing successful corporate social responsibility initiatives by reading Skillsoft’s 2023 Corporate Social Responsibility at Work Report and commit to making a change today.

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Have You Been Influenced? Exploring The Implications of The EU Artificial Intelligence Act https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/have-you-been-influenced-exploring-the-implications-of-the-eu-artificial-intelligence-act Mon, 18 Dec 2023 10:01:00 -0500 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/have-you-been-influenced-exploring-the-implications-of-the-eu-artificial-intelligence-act

Like it or not, humans interact with artificial intelligence (AI) daily. From the recommendation engine in your favorite video streaming service to product recommendations from your preferred e-commerce site, your behavior and preferences have probably been influenced – in some ways, at least – by AI.

If it hasn’t, the algorithm is not doing what it should.

That’s why the new regulations that came out this month from the European Union (EU) are so important. The Artificial Intelligence Act is a significant proposal for rules governing AI systems in the EU. It aims to encourage the safe and trustworthy development and use of AI across the EU – regulating the technology based on its potential to cause harm, with stricter rules for higher-risk applications.

This proposal is groundbreaking globally and could set a standard for AI regulation in much the same way that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) did for data protection. The world is watching the impact of the regulation and taking notes.

The Higher the Risk, the Stricter the Rules

At a fundamental level, the EU AI Act asks that we become more thoughtful as we consider how AI infiltrates our consciousness. Does it provide us with the information we need to make a better decision, or does it fully manipulate our preferences to achieve its own ends?

In the same way that we should not be using an individual’s personal information without their consent, per GDPR, we also cannot use AI to take away a person’s autonomy or manipulate their preferences without their consent. The AI Act is meant to help us, as a society, to identify and avoid this type of manipulation.

Here are some key points from the provisional agreement:

  • High-Risk AI: The agreement introduces rules for high-impact AI models that could pose systemic risks. It also establishes a revised governance system with enforcement powers at the EU level.
  • Prohibitions and Safeguards: Certain uses of AI, such as cognitive behavioral manipulation or untargeted scraping of facial images, are prohibited. The agreement includes safeguards for law enforcement exceptions, ensuring fundamental rights are protected.
  • Classification of AI Systems: The agreement categorizes AI systems based on risk. Systems with limited risk have lighter transparency obligations, while high-risk systems have specific requirements for market access.
  • Responsibilities and Roles: Given the complex nature of AI development, the agreement clarifies the responsibilities of various actors in the value chain, including providers and users. It also aligns with existing legislation, such as data protection laws.
  • Governance Architecture: A new AI Office will oversee advanced AI models, while a scientific panel and AI Board will provide expertise and coordination. An advisory forum includes stakeholders like industry representatives and civil society.
  • Penalties: Violations of the AI Act can result in fines based on a percentage of the company’s global annual turnover. Proportionate caps on penalties are specified for SMEs and start-ups.
  • Complaints and Transparency: Individuals or entities can complain to market surveillance authorities about non-compliance. The agreement emphasizes fundamental rights impact assessments and increased transparency for high-risk AI systems.
  • Innovation Support: Provisions support innovation-friendly measures, including AI regulatory sandboxes for testing innovative systems in controlled and real-world conditions.
  • Entry into Force: The AI Act will apply two years after it entered into force, with some exceptions for specific provisions.

Simply put, this agreement aims to regulate AI in the EU, considering its potential risks. It introduces rules, safeguards, and penalties to ensure responsible AI development and use while fostering innovation.

Interpretability and Discrimination in AI

So, what types of AI applications might pose systemic risks? Interpretability and discrimination immediately come to mind as high-risk categories we can use to refer to AI vulnerabilities such as hallucinations, bias, and more.

Interpretability is understanding how an AI system arrives at a particular decision or recommendation. If AI systems operate as “black boxes” with opaque decision-making processes, holding them accountable for their actions becomes challenging.

On the other hand, lack of interpretability erodes trust in AI systems, especially in high-stakes applications such as healthcare, finance, and criminal justice. Understanding the rationale behind AI decisions is crucial for ensuring compliance with laws and regulations and addressing privacy, fairness, and accountability concerns.

Discrimination in AI refers to biased outcomes that disproportionately impact specific groups of people. This can result from partial training data or inherent biases in algorithms.

Discrimination in AI applications can have profound ethical implications, leading to unfair treatment and exacerbating existing societal disparities. AI systems with discriminatory outcomes can perpetuate and amplify existing social inequalities. For example, biased hiring algorithms may reinforce gender or racial disparities in the workplace.

Be Proactive: Establish Guardrails Around AI at Your Organization

The Artificial Intelligence Act is a decisive step in challenging how society thinks about and interacts with AI. As human beings, we are fortunate to be at the forefront of this technology – and we can contribute to the narrative as it unfolds.

But, coming to a global consensus may take time, despite progressive legislation coming from the EU. What steps can we take in the meantime?

One of the most impactful ways your organization can contribute to the conversation around AI in the near term is to establish an AI policy for its employees. A formal AI policy defines how employees can use AI within your organization and typically covers ethical usage, bias and fairness standards, compliance requirements, and other critical guidelines and guardrails.

As AI best practices evolve, so will your AI policy.

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Looking Ahead: AI Tops 2024 Investments for Leaders https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/ai-tops-investments-for-leaders Tue, 12 Dec 2023 07:30:00 -0500 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/ai-tops-investments-for-leaders


Most tech leaders say artificial intelligence is their top investment area this coming year, according to Skillsoft's annual IT Skills and Salary Report released today.

That may not come as a surprise.

Given the tremendous wave of news, products and releases over the past year, the technology has grown immensely popular due to its wide applicability and accessibility. AI, and more specifically generative AI, has helped disrupt norms, challenge conventional thinking, and make our lives a little easier.

Investments in this area stand to bring about even more ways the technology can solve problems new and old. But the realization of these investments won't come easily — at least for some.

Sourcing skilled talent will likely challenge many leaders who wish to start and scale projects.

The rise of generative AI (GenAI) over the past year highlights the need for efficient training to simply keep up, let alone get ahead. Engineers with AI skills are also hard to come by these days, and many teams need to sharpen what skills they do have, according to the findings.

And yet, many leaders have set their course and will head into the new year bound and determined.

Keep reading to dive into the key findings of this year’s report. Or, jump into it now:

While Promising, Scaling AI Projects May Cause Headaches

The rise of GenAI has sparked unprecedented interest in the technology, which has helped it become a central focus for businesses.

However, professionals skilled in this area are hard to find. Demand for specialists has reached new heights and likely won’t abate in the near future.

Of those who do employ skilled staff, 43% of tech leaders believe their team’s AI skills need improvement, largely due to the pace of change moving faster than training programs can keep up.

Leaders must urgently focus on equipping their teams with the necessary skills to maximize AI's potential — or risk falling behind. What's more, as AI's influence spreads beyond the tech department, IT professionals must understand its implications for business decision-making, strategy, and operations.

This requires a commitment to continuous learning, adaptability, and bridging the gap between technical and business skills.

Alongside AI, Power Skills in Tech Have Become More Important

Whether onboarding AI solutions internally or bringing products to market, investments in AI likely impact those across the business and require a collaborative approach to implementation.

What we found is that power skills are becoming increasingly important for IT professionals who are assuming more influential roles at work — or just want to compete in the labor market.

Our research indicates that while technical proficiency is vital, power skills like communication, adaptability, teamwork, and problem-solving are increasingly defining tech professionals' career trajectories. According to the research, IT decision-makers consider power skills more crucial than certifications, portfolios, and even college degrees when hiring prospective job candidates.

As IT professionals take on leadership roles, these skills will help them tackle complex, cross-functional challenges and initiatives. The survey reveals that 40% of respondents believe team communication is the most important skill for leaders, while only 8% think technical skills are the most important.

These findings suggest that professionals with a robust mix of technical and soft skills are likely to excel in their careers and land more opportunities. Therefore, IT professionals should consider developing a balanced skill set to ensure their relevance and success in the field.

Even Still, Tech Talent Is Fiercely Sought-after

Leaders are still struggling to find and retain talent – a challenge that remains despite efforts to address it. About half say hiring is difficult, with only 5% saying it’s “extremely easy” (lucky you!).

The top 5 challenges IT leaders reported this year:

  1. Resource and budget constraints
  2. Talent retention
  3. Developing stronger teams
  4. Talent recruitment
  5. Innovation and change management

This year's research reveals that hiring candidates with the right skills and attracting talent are among the main reasons for this skill gap. The traditional strategy of buying skills on demand has become unsustainable, prompting a shift towards building a sustainable workforce.

This approach focuses on developing existing talent and bridging skill gaps; we’ve seen this trend over the past several years. The lion’s share of leaders report plans to train their teams rather than outsource or bring in new talent.

This method helps ensure a steady supply of skilled IT professionals, allowing companies to adapt to changing technologies and stay competitive.

How do organizations plan to close skill gaps?

Moving in the Right Direction — But the Skills Gap Remains Steady

The skills gap continues to burden decision-makers, with 66% in agreement just like last year, and 56% foreseeing it in the next one to two years.

The rapid evolution of technology, such as GenAI, outpaces skills development programs, causing these gaps. Struggles to hire and attract skilled candidates contribute to this issue, though retention is less of a concern compared to last year.

However, insufficient investment in training has increased, with 36% acknowledging this, up from 26% last year. Proactive companies are encouraged to identify their skills gaps and plan for them.

Investing in education, certification, and training demonstrates a commitment to employees, aiding in keeping and attracting talent, who cited professional development as the leading reason for leaving their post this year.

With high stakes, forward-thinking is essential.

What are the top reasons for skills shortages on your team? Select the top three.
Rate of technology change exceeds skills development programs 43%
We struggle to hire candidates with the skills we need 41%
It’s difficult to attract candidates with the skills we need to our organization's industry 37%
We have not invested enough in training to develop the skills we need 36%
Our current training programs are not effective in developing the skills we need our employees to have 33%
We cannot pay what candidates demand 31%
We struggle to retain employees 30%
We have not anticipated the skills we need 24%
We do not have the ability to assess the skills that exist in our employee base 21%
Other 4%

What’s All This Research and Data Mean for You?

The industry continues to grow, reflected in its expansion across industries and increased salaries for tech professionals. Our report reveals a rising demand for IT skills as companies invest in tech talent to meet their goals.

What this means for tech professionals and individual contributors

For those who want to climb the ladder or become more specialized in their careers, use your time wisely this year as you learn new skills. The report suggests that those who focus on power skills are enjoying more opportunities as a result, given the importance placed on them by those in leadership.

What’s more, a healthy mix of technical and power skills can help remedy common workplace issues we spotted this year, like unclear roles and responsibilities, workload and communication. Technical certifications are still worth your time, but mix in courses or activities that challenge your skills in interpersonal communication, emotional intelligence, time management and conflict resolution.

What this means for tech leaders and executives

Realizing your AI dreams will rudely meet reality if you don’t have the capabilities in-house.

But as mentioned, you’re heading down the right path if you said you’re investing in upskilling and reskilling your teams. Professional development is the leading reason most employees jump ship — even more than compensation this year — so offering more of these opportunities solves for many of the challenges you told us about:

  • Talent retention
  • Talent recruitment
  • Skill gaps
  • Team morale
  • Workload
  • Building stronger teams

And more.

With 56% expecting an increase in both budgets and hiring, the reliance on technology across all business sectors is evident.

Skilled talent is integral to this growth and transformation. Truly, everyone must continually invest in themselves to continue reaping the rewards of what can be a fulfilling tech career. This report proves that.

Dive deeper into the data by gaining access to the full-length report today:

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Simplify, Streamline, Succeed with Skillsoft Percipio Compliance 2.0 https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/simplify-streamline-succeed-with-skillsoft-percipio-compliance-2-0 Thu, 07 Dec 2023 11:59:00 -0500 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/simplify-streamline-succeed-with-skillsoft-percipio-compliance-2-0

One seamless solution. Unfortunately, that’s a phrase organizations rarely hear while developing and implementing training programs. Investing in employee training and development in the evolution of reskilling and upskilling remains crucial to staying competitive in the market. Growing leaders within an organization drives positive behavioral change and helps organizations achieve their strategic goals. Ensuring all employees know and follow the company’s code of conduct, policies, and procedures for an ethical and safe work environment minimizes risk to your organization and protects your most valuable asset – your employees.

How could any company imagine achieving all of these lofty goals from one provider? Perhaps stretching the imagination further, what can happen when you combine these objectives for even more benefit to the employees and organization - nurturing leaders with strong ethical foundations who embody and advocate for the company's ethics and culture, and enhancing employees' skills so that they not only grasp the technical capabilities of GenAI, but also have the knowledge to employ it ethically.

That said, the strategy your organization adopts for training directly influences employee engagement and the range of learning opportunities available to them.

The Learning Vendor Maze

Compliance training is key for regulatory and ethical reasons, but it's insufficient for comprehensive employee development. Training in leadership, business acumen, and technology is also necessary. Leadership training fosters effective leaders, while technology training promotes innovation and efficiency by familiarizing employees with contemporary tools.

Oftentimes, organizations face the challenge of meeting multiple training requirements, leading them to invest in various training platforms. While this approach may address immediate needs, it can create a fragmented learning environment and complicate tracking employees' success. Having learners dealing with multiple systems, logins, and data silos can be overwhelming and confusing. By relying on multiple systems, logins, and data silos, learning administrators find themselves spread thin. This makes it challenging to gain a comprehensive view of employee progress and accurately measure the impact of training initiatives.

Administrators can simplify their processes and consolidate data into one user-friendly interface by adopting a centralized training platform. This allows for better visibility into employee training activities, progress, and outcomes. Rather than navigating multiple systems and logins, administrators can conveniently access all the necessary information in one place.

Meet Skillsoft Percipio Compliance 2.0

Introducing a unified Skillsoft Percipio experience that combines Skillsoft Compliance content with core learning content into one seamless solution.

Uniting Compliance and Non-Compliance Content

Skillsoft’s Percipio Compliance 2.0 offers one platform that integrates compliance and non-compliance content into a single solution so organizations can provide a comprehensive learning experience to their employees. This ensures that employees receive a well-rounded education covering mandatory regulatory requirements and skills development relevant to their roles.

By integrating compliance content with non-compliance content, organizations can create a holistic approach to risk management. Employees develop the compliance knowledge and skills required to proactively identify and address potential risks and challenges. In addition to building the leadership and technology skills your employees need to thrive.

Search, Browse, and Customize

With Skillsoft Percipio Compliance 2.0 learners now have the ability to browse and search across all training resources within Percipio, ensuring they can find exactly what they need when they need it.

Administrators now have the ability to create custom channels and learning journeys for their learners. They are able to pull from the different Skillsoft course catalogs to create a well-rounded learning experience that stretches beyond basic compliance principles.

Comprehensive Tracking

With Percipio, organizations gain visibility into learner progress, completion rates, and skill development through comprehensive analytics and reporting capabilities. This data-driven approach allows organizations to identify knowledge gaps, assess the effectiveness of training initiatives, and make informed decisions to optimize their training programs.

By tracking and managing learner training data, Percipio enables organizations to tailor learning experiences, improve engagement, and ensure that employees acquire the skills necessary for success in their roles. Ultimately, this contributes to organizations' overall growth and success by fostering a continuous learning culture and aligning training initiatives with strategic objectives.

It’s crucial for organizations to recognize that their people are the driving force behind their success. By prioritizing the development of employees and providing them with the right tools, organizations empower them to reach their full potential and contribute to collective growth. Investing in comprehensive training programs benefits individual employees and strengthens the organization's overall capabilities.

Employees with the knowledge and skills they need to excel become more engaged, productive, and satisfied in their roles. By nurturing their professional growth, organizations can create a positive work environment that attracts and retains top talent. Ultimately, investing in people is an investment in the future success of your organization.

Ready to see all Skillsoft Percipio can do?

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Kim Yapchai on the Importance of Culture, Teamwork, and Integrity in Sustainability Initiatives https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/kim-yapchai-on-the-importance-of-culture-teamwork-and-integrity-in-sustainability-initiatives Thu, 07 Dec 2023 11:53:00 -0500 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/kim-yapchai-on-the-importance-of-culture-teamwork-and-integrity-in-sustainability-initiatives

Sustainability initiatives are gaining mindshare across organizations, affecting everything from company culture to employee and customer trust. Yet, many businesses are still trying to figure out who should be driving these initiatives internally.

As a result, sustainability is often overseen by a variety of roles within an organization, working collaboratively to promote and implement green practices. Which begs the question:

  • Who oversees sustainability at your organization?
  • How did that person (or those people) assume the role?
  • What skills do they need to be successful?

To help decipher these trends, the Skillsoft team interviewed sustainability leaders from various organizations and walks of life to help build awareness around various sustainability roles. We compiled these insights into a video series, Sustainability at Work, to showcase the stories of real sustainability professionals and their paths to success.

First up is Kim Yapchai, an accomplished C-suite leader with almost 30 years of experience in multinational public companies. Yapchai shares her experiences working as a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) and the most important skills she’s learned throughout her career.

3 Tips for Sustainability Professionals from Kim Yapchai

With an extensive background in environmental, social, and governance (ESG), risk, compliance, and legal, and around ten years working with Boards of Directors and committees, Kim Yapchai has impressive industry experience in financing, product manufacturing, and construction. However, it’s her “knock it out of the park” mentality and thought leadership on strategic sustainability issues that have positioned her as a well-trusted industry professional.

Taking on multiple roles at Tenneco, one of the world’s leading automotive marketing and manufacturing companies, Yapchai served as the Chief Environmental, Social, and Governance Officer of the company, a role created by the CEO based on her proposed ESG strategy. She was eventually elevated to the Executive Leadership Team, and the company now stands in the top-quartile in its industry.

Throughout her career, Yapchai has received many recognitions for her amazing work, including Top Mind by Compliance Week Magazine, the Salute to Excellence Award by the Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce, and the Transformational Leadership—Visionary Leader by Inside Counsel Magazine. In her free time, Yapchai volunteers to mentor women and minorities, and she promotes diversity through the National Asian Pacific Bar Association and the DirectWomen International Board Committee.

She provided three takeaways for sustainability professionals:

  • Integrity is critical in everything you do, personally and professionally.
  • You can’t build a corporate sustainability program alone.
  • A successful sustainability program does not happen overnight; it takes iteration.

Watch Yapchai’s interview here, or read on for more insight.

It Takes a Village to Build a Sustainable Business

The sustainability of your business can affect its success, including potential financing and the ability to attract and retain employees. Employees want to work for companies that support what they believe in. But for corporate sustainability initiatives to be successful, many people need to take part.

“It takes a village. It’s not something one person or one team can do for a company,” Yapchai adds. In order to implement regulations that will have an impact, it’s important to develop a strategy. It takes a cross-functional team where everyone has a role to play and they commit to working together in order to ignite change.

It’s also important to make sure that you hold yourself, your team, and your company accountable for the results. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to create a vision and express that vision clearly to the rest of your team while simultaneously highlighting other peoples’ achievements and giving them a forum to express their needs.

Focus on the Journey

Change – especially in the context of corporate social responsibility and ESG – doesn’t happen overnight. “It’s a journey,” Yapchai says.

To create and implement effective sustainability solutions within your organization, it’s important not to make promises you can’t keep. Rather, Yapchai suggests using a logical and analytical growth mindset to set a baseline and a target. This way, you know where you started and where you’re going, and your company can compare their initiatives year over year to track performance.

Creating a clear strategy and a plan to follow through is crucial, but sometimes figuring out where to start can be the hardest part. If you’re committing to improving your company, and on a larger scale, the world, then you should also commit to improving your knowledge and building a sturdy foundation that can support your work.

Committing to continuous learning is so important. And with Skillsoft’s sustainability training content, you can have the ability to prepare your organization to become more environmentally conscious at its own pace.

To hear more about Kim Yapchai’s experiences with ESG and sustainability work, and all she’s learned along the way, watch her interview here, and be sure to check out other interviews from our Sustainability at Work video series.

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A Guide To The Highest-Paying ISACA Certifications https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/a-guide-to-the-highest-paying-isaca-certifications Wed, 06 Dec 2023 09:00:00 -0500 alec.olson@skillsoft.com (Alec Olson) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/a-guide-to-the-highest-paying-isaca-certifications

ISACA certifications are globally recognized and highly valued in the cybersecurity field. They signify a high level of competence, ethics, and professionalism, making them an important asset to any IT security professional looking to advance their career.

The importance of ISACA certifications lies in their rigorous standards and comprehensive approach. They cover a broad range of essential skills needed in IT and cybersecurity, from assessing vulnerabilities and instituting control mechanisms to managing enterprise IT and ensuring compliance. Each certification is designed to equip professionals with the practical experience and technical knowledge to navigate complex IT landscapes.

In terms of value, ISACA certifications can also greatly enhance a professional's earning potential. Skillsoft's IT Skills and Salary Report confirms that professionals who hold ISACA certifications are among the top earners in the industry.

However, ISACA certifications are not just about immediate financial gain. They also demonstrate a professional's dedication to continuous learning and staying current on best practices in IT security — a critical attribute in this constantly evolving field. As the IT Skills and Salary Report points out, achieving an ISACA certification is a key step toward career growth and success.

This guide focuses on certification holders worldwide and reports on average salaries and more. See how we compiled this list in the methodology.

Keep reading to learn more about the highest-paying ISACA certifications and how to earn them:

The Top-Paying ISACA Certifications Worldwide

CertificationSalary
CGEIT - Certified in the Governance of Enterprise IT $138,622
CRISC - Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control $133,616
CISM - Certified Information Security Manager $131,967
CDPSE - Certified Data Privacy Solutions Engineer $127,403
CISA - Certified Information Systems Auditor $109,012

What Do ISACA Certifications Pay in the U.S.?

CertificationSalary
CGEIT - Certified in the Governance of Enterprise IT $164,091
CRISC - Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control $169,065
CISM - Certified Information Security Manager $167,396
CDPSE - Certified Data Privacy Solutions Engineer $178,545
CISA - Certified Information Systems Auditor $154,500

CGEIT (Certified in the Governance of Enterprise IT)

$138,622

ISACA's Certified in the Governance of Enterprise IT (CGEIT) credential proves an individual's IT governance and risk management expertise.

Organizations stand to gain significantly from hiring CGEIT-certified professionals. These individuals bring to the table a demonstrated proficiency in IT governance, ensuring the effective, secure management of IT systems and data — a critical aspect in today's technology-dependent business landscape.

For IT professionals, acquiring the CGEIT certification opens up avenues for career advancement by making them more competitive in the job market. It serves as a globally recognized credential, bolstering their professional standing and paving the way for opportunities in leadership and high-level management roles.

The ideal candidate for CGEIT certification is a professional with management, advisory, or assurance responsibilities relating to the governance of IT. This includes roles like IT managers, IT governance professionals, and IT auditors. Candidates must also have five years of experience in these roles to certify.

How to Earn This Certification:

  • Pass the CGEIT exam.
  • Apply for CGEIT certification.
  • Adherence to the CGEIT continuing professional education (CPE) program.
  • Compliance with the CGEIT Code of Professional Ethics.

Find Training:

CRISC (Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control)

$133,616

The Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) is another highly respected certification ISACA offers. It is specifically designed for professionals who are involved in enterprise risk management and control. CRISC holders are adept at identifying and managing risks through developing, implementing, and maintaining information systems controls. This certification is ideally suited to IT managers and risk and control professionals.

Hiring professionals with the CRISC certification benefits organizations by guaranteeing they have experts who can efficiently manage risks and institute a robust control program. These professionals ensure that organizations make informed decisions, achieve business objectives, and maximize IT investments.

For IT professionals, earning the CRISC certification can enhance their credibility, open up new career opportunities, and increase their earning potential. It demonstrates a professional's commitment to best practices in risk and control and their ability to offer valuable insights into these areas.

The ideal candidate for CRISC certification is an IT professional with hands-on experience in risk identification, assessment, evaluation, response, and monitoring. This includes roles like risk professionals, control professionals, and business analysts. Moreover, the candidate must have at least three years of experience to certify.

How to Earn This Certification:

  • Pass the CRISC exam.
  • Apply for CRISC certification.
  • Adherence to the CRISC continuing professional education (CPE) program.
  • Compliance with the CRISC Standards of Professional Practice.

Find Training:

CISM (Certified Information Security Manager)

$131,967

ISACA's CISM is a globally recognized certification that signifies an individual's expertise in the governance and management of enterprise information security. Those who earn this certification have proven their ability to develop and manage an enterprise security program, making them an essential asset to any organization.

In 2023, organizations increasingly recognize the value of certified professionals like CISM holders. The top five highest salaries by certification in United States include the CISM, signifying its high market value. This trend aligns with the growing demand for cybersecurity expertise, as 88% of IT professionals hold at least one certification, with cybersecurity certifications being among the highest paying.

Hiring CISM-certified professionals helps organizations address the prevalent skills gap in the IT field, reported by 66% of decision-makers. These professionals bring their robust skills in information security management, aiding in reducing operating costs, stress, delays, and talent acquisition while improving efficacy in this domain.

For IT professionals, obtaining a CISM certification can significantly boost their career trajectory. With the average annual salary of IT professionals globally at $96,184, a CISM certification can open doors to higher earnings. Furthermore, with most IT professionals planning to pursue certifications in cloud computing and cybersecurity, a CISM certification can set them apart in these competitive fields.

Given the rapid rate of technology change and the challenges in recruiting and retaining qualified candidates, it's clear that investments in certifications like CISM are crucial. Whether through formal, instructor-led sessions or self-paced training, enhancing one's skillset with a CISM certification can significantly benefit both the individuals who earn the credential and the organizations they work for.

The ideal candidate for CISM certification is a professional who manages, designs, oversees, and assesses an enterprise's information security. This includes roles like IT consultants, IT managers, IT security policymakers, privacy officers, and risk officers. It's important to note that those who plan to pursue this certification must have at least five years of experience in information security management.

How to Earn This Certification:

  • Pass the CISM exam. (Exam fees cost $575 for members and $760 for non-members.)
  • Apply for certification. (It costs $50.)
  • Adherence to the CISM continuing professional education (CPE) program.
  • Compliance with the CISM Code of Professional Ethics.

Find Training:

CDPSE (Certified Data Privacy Solutions Engineer)

$127,403

ISACA's Certified Data Privacy Solutions Engineer (CDPSE) signifies an individual's proficiency in privacy technology and data management. CDPSE-certified professionals have demonstrated their ability to design, build, and manage the privacy of data systems and technology, making them vital assets to any data-driven organization.

Hiring CDPSE-certified professionals brings numerous benefits. These individuals are equipped with the skills to effectively implement privacy by design, resulting in enhanced data protection and compliance with global data privacy regulations.

On the career front, obtaining a CDPSE certification can enhance an IT professional's career prospects. It validates their expertise in data privacy solutions, leading to higher-paying roles within the industry. Further, as data privacy becomes an increasingly crucial aspect of IT, professionals with a CDPSE certification will be in high demand, providing them a competitive edge in the job market.

Investing in a CDPSE certification is a strategic move for organizations and individuals. For organizations, it ensures their data privacy practices are robust and compliant. It opens up opportunities for career growth and advancement for professionals, setting them apart in the market.

The ideal candidate for CDPSE certification is a professional who assesses, builds, and implements privacy solutions and helps establish privacy requirements. This includes roles like data privacy officers, data protection officers, IT managers, and IT consultants. The person pursuing their CDPSE must have at least three years of experience on the job.

How to Earn This Certification:

  • Pass the CDPSE exam.
  • Apply for CDPSE certification.
  • Adherence to the CDPSE continuing professional education (CPE) program.
  • Compliance with the CDPSE Code of Professional Ethics.

Find Training:

CISA (Certified Information Systems Auditor)

$109,012

ISACA's Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) certification underscores an IT professional's expertise in information systems auditing, control, and security. Those who earn this certification have demonstrated their proficiency in managing IT systems and processes, ensuring the security and integrity of an organization's data. This certification is a testament to a professional's comprehensive understanding of IT auditing and security, making them invaluable team members to virtually any organization today.

For organizations, hiring professionals with CISA certification translates into enhanced security and better management of their IT systems. These individuals bring to the table their adept skills in auditing, assessing, and managing complex IT infrastructures. On the other hand, for IT professionals, the CISA certification can be a significant career catalyst. It validates their knowledge and skills and opens up avenues for career advancement and higher salaries, setting them apart in the industry.

The ideal candidate for CISA certification is an IT professional with experience in auditing, control, or security of information systems. This could include roles such as IS/IT auditors, IS/IT consultants, IT audit managers, among others. The candidate must have at least five years of experience in one of these domains to certify.

Note: In 2024, ISACA plans to update its CISA Exam Content Outline (ECO), which will impact exam prep material.

How to Earn This Certification:

  • Pass the CISA exam. (Exam fees cost $575 for members and $760 for non-members.)
  • Apply for certification.
  • Adherence to the CISA continuing professional education (CPE) program.
  • Compliance with the Information Systems Auditing Standards.

Find Training:

HOW WE BUILT THE LIST

This list of top-paying ISACA certifications is based on survey responses from Skillsoft’s 2023 IT Skills and Salary Survey conducted from May to September 2023. The survey asks respondents about their current jobs and experience, certifications and salaries, and more. Respondents encounter multiple choice and multi-select, open-ended, rank choice, and other types of questions while taking the survey.

The survey is distributed to IT professionals around the world by technology providers, certification bodies, and Skillsoft, among others. The focus of this list is on 330 respondents who reported having one or more ISACA certifications. The number of responses for each certification worldwide is as follows: CISM (163), CISA (174), CRISC (87), CDPSE (59), CGEIT (41). For the U.S.: CISM (74), CISA (64), CRISC (38), CDPSE (23), CGEIT (17).

To compile lists like this one, we consider relevance, demand, and certification requirements. Salaries are not normalized for cost-of-living or location.

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It’s About Time: When to Update Your Global Code of Conduct https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/its-about-time-when-to-update-your-global-code-of-conduct Tue, 05 Dec 2023 11:25:00 -0500 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/its-about-time-when-to-update-your-global-code-of-conduct

When was the last time your organization reviewed its Global Code of Conduct? Good governance says that you should refresh your Code at least every two years; but for many organizations, there are differing opinions on the necessity to do so.

Consider this blog post a sign from the universe to take another look at your Code.

Your Code serves as a guide for employees and stakeholders alike on what ethical behavior looks like in your organization. Regular reviews of that guide help clarify, refresh and reinforce your organization’s commitment to ethical standards – and ensure that your expectations remain relevant to your operations and the expectations of stakeholders as the business environment and societal norms change over time.

And that’s not all. Regularly updating your Global Code of Conduct has other benefits, as well:

  • Ensures compliance. Reviewing your code on a regular basis may help your organization to identify any legal or ethical changes that may require your attention.
  • Mitigates risk. Identifying and addressing potential issues before they escalate is a proactive way to mitigate risk.
  • Builds cultural alignment. As your organization evolves, it's important to ensure that the code of conduct aligns with its values, culture, and mission.
  • Improves employee awareness. Remind employees of their responsibilities and the organization’s commitment to ethical behavior.
  • Establishes trust. A well-maintained code of conduct can help build and maintain trust with external stakeholders.

And finally, organizations that regularly review their code of conduct are simply better positioned to make improvements and adapt to changing circumstances. They can look at industry best practices and stay competitive by demonstrating an ongoing commitment to ethical behavior.

Skillsoft is Updating Our Code, Too

Last year, Skillsoft launched 12 new cinematic-style courses as part of our Global Code of Conduct solution. And this month, we’re pleased to announce 19—yes 19—new topics for your perusal. These topics cover many of the flagship and emerging risks we see covered in many organization’s Codes and are top of mind for educating employees. These include:

  • Accommodating Disabilities 2
  • Accounting & Financial Integrity 2
  • Anti-Money Laundering 3
  • Outside Communications
  • International Trade Compliance 2
  • Promoting Safety & Security at Work 2
  • Protecting Customer Information 2
  • Records Management 2
  • Social Media and Electronic Communications 3
  • Anti-retaliation
  • Combating Modern Slavery
  • Corporate Governance
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Global Supply Chain and Vendor Management
  • Data Privacy
  • Diversity, Inclusion, Respect, and Fairness
  • Non-disability Accommodations
  • Reporting and Whistleblower Protection
  • Respectful Communication

While many of these courses are an expected addition to our catalog, we thought it might be interesting to double-click on one of the emerging risk topics new to our portfolio – Combating Modern Slavery.

A Preview of Skillsoft’s “Combating Modern Slavery” Training

Modern slavery is a challenge across the globe today; even well-meaning companies can find themselves unwittingly involved in and exposed to modern slavery through their contractors or supply chain. Skillsoft’s new cinematic-style course reviews the most common types of exploitation as well as signs to be on the lookout for when working with suppliers.

Why might organizations consider including a course on Combatting Modern Slavery in their Global Codes of Conduct? Honestly, the same reasons tend to apply to any course you’re considering adding to your training program. These include:

  • Legal Compliance: In the case of modern slavery, many countries have laws and regulations in place – such as the Modern Slavery Act in the UK and the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act in the United States – to help organizations avoid legal and financial consequences. Training your team ensures that your organization meets legal requirements and avoids legal liabilities.
  • Ethical Responsibility: Ensure that your company is not inadvertently supporting or benefiting from forced labor, human trafficking, or other forms of exploitation. Training can help your team understand the ethical implications of their actions and make more informed choices.
  • Employee Engagement, Corporate Reputation, and Brand Image: Employees tend to be more engaged and satisfied with their work when they feel their organization is socially responsible. At the same time, customers and stakeholders increasingly expect businesses to uphold ethical standards, and a commitment to combating modern slavery can be a strong selling point.
  • Supply Chain Transparency: Training your team on modern slavery issues can improve transparency within your supply chain – enabling you to better understand the working conditions of your suppliers and subcontractors, identify potential issues, and take corrective actions.
  • Human Rights and Social Impact: By addressing modern slavery, your company can contribute to the broader effort to protect human rights and promote social justice. This is not only a moral imperative but also a way to create a positive impact on society.

In summary, training your team to combat modern slavery is not only a legal requirement in many jurisdictions but also an ethical choice, and a strategic business decision that can lead to improved reputation, risk management, and long-term sustainability.

Your Global Code of Conduct is a Reflection of Your Company

Many organizations looking to create a culture of compliance are surprised to learn that culture develops, in part, from where you focus your efforts.

In the case of your Global Code of Conduct, the courses you include serve as a visible and tangible expression of your organization’s commitment to ethical behavior, responsible business practices, and its role as a responsible corporate citizen on a global stage.

Your Code is a key instrument for aligning the actions of individuals within the company with its overarching values and principles. Think about the type of training you need to include to ensure your employees are up-to-speed and understand that this reflects the type of company you want to become.

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Navigating the Productivity Puzzle with Skillsoft Coach Panagiotis Ntouskas https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/navigating-the-productivity-puzzle-with-skillsoft-coach-panagiotis-ntouskas Tue, 05 Dec 2023 09:00:00 -0500 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/navigating-the-productivity-puzzle-with-skillsoft-coach-panagiotis-ntouskas

Despite living in an age of technological advancements intended to streamline tasks, many individuals still struggle with time management and achieving their goals efficiently. This paradox is particularly surprising, considering the number of productivity tools and methodologies available today.

From time-blocking techniques to digital apps designed to minimize distractions, there's no shortage of resources meant to bolster personal productivity. Yet, mastering these tools and techniques requires more than just understanding their mechanics—it demands a shift in mindset and a commitment to consistent practice.

Take a peek at Skillsoft’s Coaching solution to see how our exceptional coaches can help guide your employees to personal and professional productivity success.

Interested in becoming a Skillsoft Coach? Apply today

Meet Skillsoft Coach Panagiotis Ntouskas

Panagiotis is a multilingual and globally recognized professional coach who is passionate about helping individuals get the most out of their time with tactical productivity. Based in Athens, Greece, he has a diverse background, with nine years of experience in the operational industry, spanning sectors such as logistics and international transport, consulting, manufacturing, and pharmaceuticals.

Fluent in English, German, and Greek, he holds a Professional Certified Coach credential from the International Coaching Federation in addition to three Master's degrees, demonstrating his commitment to continuous learning and development. With approximately 1,000 hours of paid professional coaching under his belt, Panagiotis has a wealth of experience guiding individuals through their personal and professional growth journeys.

His specialty lies in personal productivity, where he excels at helping clients streamline their processes and optimize their time to achieve their goals more effectively. Panagiotis' unique combination of industry knowledge, coaching expertise, and commitment to personal productivity makes him an invaluable asset to anyone looking to enhance their performance and achieve their ambitions.

We had the pleasure of asking Panagiotis a few questions to gain insight into his coaching philosophy and why coaching is an impactful training tool.

Skillsoft: Can you provide an overview of your coaching philosophy and approach?

Panagiotis Ntouskas: My coaching is success-oriented and motivational, focusing on personal development and enhancing inspiration, creativity, and self-efficacy. Personal productivity coaching is a multi-dimensional niche that requires creativity as well as multi-dimensional and out-of-the-box thinking. I always try to follow a holistic approach in coaching. It's not always easy to distinguish between a personal and a professional topic, that's why for me every topic could be relevant for a coaching session.

Can you share any success stories or case studies from your previous coaching engagements?

I would like to share a testimonial from a client.

“Before working with Panagiotis, I felt so overwhelmed and stressed with my work. I felt like it took over my life and had no free time. Panagiotis helped me develop time management and organizational skills which have been invaluable. I am now working more effectively and have more time for other things in my life.”

In order to improve her productivity and time management, we had to identify the root cause of the issue. We analyzed how she spends her day, which was really an eye opener, especially when it came to how she prioritized various tasks and activities. Her main challenges were her difficulty to say no to unimportant tasks and the long, inefficient meetings. We achieved a productivity improvement of more than 40%, achieved through better prioritization, delegation, and more efficient meetings.

How do you support learners in developing their leadership skills and enhancing their professional growth?

Firstly, the coachee needs to gain awareness into where he or she stands in relation to leadership and power skills. A 360 assessment can be very helpful at this stage.

Secondly, the coachee needs to select areas of focus for personal development and be clear about why those are important. The next step is to dive deep into specific challenges the coachee faces and make an action plan for behavioral or other changes. Accountability and follow-ups are also keys to success in coaching.

What do you believe is the benefit to scaling leadership capabilities across the organization through coaching?

It's all about turning managers into leaders which leads to more empowered employees, enhanced productivity, and better results.

I think one of the biggest benefits is the increased sense of ownership. When everyone accepts responsibility and takes ownership of mistakes and challenges in a blame-free environment, the impact can be huge. People are not afraid to make mistakes, they are not afraid to take risks, and this is how progress is made.

Furthermore, leaders are both inspiring and inspired. They can motivate and enable their teams to strive for continuous improvement and contribute to organizational success.

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The 5 Most Important Skills for Tech Leaders https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/most-important-skills-for-tech-leaders Mon, 04 Dec 2023 13:30:00 -0500 alec.olson@skillsoft.com (Alec Olson) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/most-important-skills-for-tech-leaders

As an IT professional, you may be confident in your technical know-how, but if you’re looking to advance to the next level, you need more than just technical skills to succeed.

Over the past decades, technology has continued to evolve, bringing about new roles and responsibilities in the tech landscape. Due to the rapid changes in the industry, IT has matured from a supporting role to a strategic one, creating unique opportunities for advancement.

As new roles and responsibilities are making their way into the workplace, it is imperative that IT professionals are equipped with the skills to take on these new challenges.

In the past, technical skills may have been enough to get by. But today, the changing nature of the tech industry will continue stressing the importance of softer skills, like interpersonal communication, adaptability, and time management.

In fact, survey findings shared in Skillsoft's IT Skills and Salary Report reveal that soft skills like these are among the most important for those in leadership positions. The majority of respondents (40%) say team communication is the most important skill, and far fewer (8%) deem technical skills as the most critical.

If you work in tech and want to advance your career, here are the five most important skills for IT leaders to have and how to develop them:

1. Team Communication and Encouragement

Communication is an important skill to have in any job, but it is the most important skill for IT leaders to have.

This year, both IT staff and leaders responding to Skillsoft’s IT Skills and Salary survey ranked team communication as the single most important skill for those in leadership.

Being able to converse effectively with a team, as well as convey your actions to partners and clients is crucial to taking on more responsibilities in the workplace.

Specifically, good communication helps leaders explain complex tech concepts and build relationships with their colleagues. These skills are also essential for managing projects, addressing customer needs, and making important decisions.

Not to mention, having a passion for what you do and being able to openly express it with the rest of your team offers encouragement and inspiration.

2. Interpersonal Communication and Team Building

The changing landscape in the tech industry has been largely driven by shifts to remote work. Therefore, building a strong sense of community is more important now than ever.

A leader should strive to bring out the best in people, bolster morale, and establish trust between their department and senior management.

Furthermore, IT projects are typically team-driven by members with diverse skill sets, so to grow as a leader and a professional, leaders must foster a personal connection with their team.

Collaboration, team spirit, and continuous learning among team members helps develop a community vested in the growth of the organization.

3. Emotional Intelligence, Delegation and Coaching

It can be hard to switch from a team member to a leader, even when you are a talented professional. One of the best leadership skills is the ability to bring out the best in everyone around you.

The best leaders are those who know how to delegate, coach, and give their team members the freedom to make mistakes. This helps emphasize everyone’s talents while also providing them with room to grow and succeed in different areas.

Upskilling and reskilling are crucial parts of this process, and choosing to implement robust learning programs within your team helps improve every individual.

4. Problem Solving and Business Skills

Working in tech, problem solving is a core part of the job. But problem-solving at a leadership level must be aligned with the company’s business goals and strategy.

If you’re an individual contributor today, this can be a mindset shift. You must broaden your thinking and apply your problem-solving skills to figure out how your domain — whether that’s security, software or otherwise — can drive your company toward success.

You must learn about customer needs, expectations, and competitors, and create solutions that serve the company’s objectives.

Additionally, the chance for success greatly increases when more than one person is involved in the decision-making process while working on complex projects. Therefore, you should also encourage employees to try out new ideas and strategies that could lead to innovation.

5. Commitment to Inclusion and Accessibility

Inclusion and accessibility go a long way toward setting leaders apart from their peers. It’s important to invest in getting to know your team and taking the time to understand the values that matter to them.

Creating a work environment where everyone feels comfortable, safe, and respected will produce the best results, and it shows that you as a leader value your team not only for the work they are creating, but for the people they are.

However, it’s important to remember that committing to inclusion and accessibility is an ongoing endeavor. It takes work, and devoting yourself to continuing that work is a crucial step all in leadership must take.

The Tech Field Needs Skilled, Versatile Leaders

The broader tech industry remains a strong, growing, and evolving space. More and more, the tech department becomes interwoven with the rest of the business — placing greater importance of the skills IT professionals have.

As IT professionals, it’s crucial that you invest in continual learning, whether your motivation is to advance your career or help those around with you deploy new tech. The investment in your own skills will pay off in more ways than one — and it starts by taking the first step.

If you’re interested in learning more about the important skills for tech leaders and how they apply to you and your team, check out some of Skillsoft’s IT training content and start learning today.

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Introducing India’s Customer Award Winners 2023 https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/introducing-indias-customer-award-winners-2023 Wed, 22 Nov 2023 09:00:00 -0500 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/introducing-indias-customer-award-winners-2023

At Skillsoft, our customers are what truly inspire us. Their creative solutions help us think more broadly and enable us to deliver technology that changes both careers and businesses.

That said, we’re overjoyed to present the winners of the 2023 Customer Awards, representing the most remarkable transformational changes in their respective fields.

While it’s always a challenge to sort through dozens of nominations, seeing our customers’ amazing work and contributions makes us exceptionally proud to bring you this year’s honorees.

In 2023, we awarded winners in five categories:

Transformative Leadership Development

This category recognizes an organization that has built and implemented a best-in-class leadership development program. The hallmark of such a transformative program is that it makes a significant positive impact on the organization and supports strategic business goals.

Innovation in Developing Tech Talent

This award is given to an organization that tackled the tech skills gap head-on. Our honoree overcame tech shortage challenges by implementing innovative, impactful learning programs for its technology workforce.

Special Learning and Development Initiatives

This award recognizes an organization that has developed and implemented an especially noteworthy learning initiative and/or talent program. This year’s winner and special award mention delivered learning and development initiatives that solved complex organizational problems and demonstrated solid and sustained results over time.

Program of the Year

It’s hard to implement robust learning initiatives in our changing world, and this category recognizes the best of the best. The Program of the Year award goes to an organization that has used Skillsoft’s learning solutions to create a unique, cutting-edge learning program that solves clearly defined problems and makes a meaningful impact on both the organization and its employees.

Champion of the Year

This award honors an exceptional leader, an ambassador for talent development who takes an innovative approach to training. The Champion of the Year is someone who uses Skillsoft’s learning solutions — and a healthy dose of their own ingenuity and creativity — to deliver uniquely transformational learning experiences to their people and organizations.

This Year’s Winners

Impact Award: Transformative Leadership Development

  • Winner: Cairn Oil and Gas, Vedanta Ltd
    As the largest private oil and gas exploration and production company in India, Cairn Oil and Gas, Vedanta Ltd accounts for more than a quarter of India’s domestic crude production and has 1,300 employees. Cairn created an agile leadership initiative with emphasis on ethical decision-making, boosting emotional intelligence, and navigating the digital age.

  • Special Award: Welspun Group
    Welspun Group is one of India's fastest growing global conglomerates with 26,000 employees and many subsidiaries. Welspun created two leadership programs that prioritize internal development, reducing its reliance on external hiring, saving on recruitment costs, and ensuring that leadership roles are filled by individuals deeply aligned with the company's values and objectives.


Impact Award: Innovation in Developing Tech Talent

  • Winner: HCLTech
    Powered by a global team of 223,400 diverse employees across 60 countries, HCLTech delivers smarter, better ways for its stakeholders to benefit from technology. The company launched the Talent Transformation @ Scale program, focusing on holistic skill development of employees. As a result, HCLTech proactively prepared more than 66,000 employees for changes in technology trends, facilitating both their career growth and non-technology skills.

  • Special Award: Larsen and Toubro Ltd
    More than 80 years old, L&T is the largest engineering and construction company with interests in EPC projects, hi-tech manufacturing, and services. It has 55,000 employees, 23 businesses, and operates in 50 countries. With the launch of its “Academy of Digital Transformation” program, L&T built a role-focused curriculum to develop talent at scale and in a cost-effective way.

Impact Award: Special Learning and Development Initiatives

  • Winner: Hero MotoCorp Ltd
    As the largest two-wheeler manufacturer since 2001, Hero MotoCorp employs 4,300 people and has the vision of being “The future of mobility.” The leadership team partnered with the talent development (TD) team to launch the Hero Learning League, which established a culture of learning and reduced skills gaps by delivering over 35,000 courses to 2,200 unique users.
  • Special Award: CGI
    Founded in 1976, CGI is among the world’s largest independent IT and business consulting services firms, with 90,250 consultants and professionals across the globe. In response to the challenge of adapting to a hybrid work mode, CGI APAC introduced a series of practical learning programs — including 32 distinct journeys — tailored to specific roles and functions and boosted learning hours by 35%.
  • Special Award: Coforge
    As a global digital services and solutions provider, Coforge’s 24,780 employees reside in 21 countries. Stemming from a commitment to foster an inclusive culture, Coforge launched its Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Academy. As a result, the company has been able to attract and retain diverse talent, stay compliant with DEI-related regulations, and increase employee engagement. The academy serves as the linchpin of Corforge’s skill development initiatives, driving growth through dynamic learning.


Program of the Year

  • Winner: Adani Enterprises Ltd
    With over 40,000 employees in 200 diverse locations, The Adani Group has created a world class transport and utility infrastructure portfolio. Under its digital learning initiative "eVidyalaya," Adani has increased the engagement and alignment of entry-level employees particularly of management and executive trainees starting work for the first time. The program has also enhanced the digital and analytics dexterity of employees, provided cultural and power skills, and ensured learning retention for over 20,000 users.
  • Special Award: Aditya Birla Group
    A global conglomerate, the Aditya Birla Group is anchored by over 187,000 employees belonging to 100 nationalities. Its GVC Future Skills Program was initiated to address closing the skills gap, enhancing learning, developing talent and adapting to industry changes. As a result, 91% of employees reported successfully applying the knowledge gained from online courses directly to their work responsibilities. And a resounding 92% of employees agreed that it contributed to enhancing their job performance and productivity.
  • Special Award: Bata Group
    The Bata Corporation is a multinational footwear, apparel and fashion accessories manufacturer, headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland with more than 30,000 employees. To address the challenges of decentralized operations, global talent management, and a one team strategy, the company’s Bata e-University is designed to cover nine learning pillars, catering to employees at all levels. As a result, the Bata Global Talent Management Strategy has brought about a transformative change in talent management practices, driving engagement, and fostering continuous learning.


Champion of the Year

  • Winner: Bhawna Choudhary, Cairn Oil and Gas, Vedanta Ltd
    Under Bhawna’s guidance, Cairn Oil & Gas underwent a pivotal shift in its approach to talent development. Recognizing the dynamic nature of the energy sector, Bhawna instigated a holistic revamp of the existing learning modules. By integrating hands-on training with digital resources, she introduced an immersive learning experience. This transition, in turn, led to higher retention rates among employees, streamlined onboarding processes, and fostered a culture where continuous learning became synonymous with professional growth.
  • Special Award: Pooja Marwah, Bata Group
    Pooja has been the driving force behind the transformation of talent development for Bata globally. Faced with the challenge of harmonizing talent management practices in a decentralized organizational structure, it was critical to institute a comprehensive global strategy. Pooja and team devised an integrated strategy that empowers employees at all levels to enhance their skills, competencies, and leadership proficiencies in a standardized and cohesive manner.

We couldn’t be prouder of the businesses and individuals recognized above. We hope this year’s winners serve as inspiration to all of those who lead talent development initiatives and are searching for creative approaches to drive business success.

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Striking the Right Balance: ESG or CSR for Your Organization https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/striking-the-right-balance-esg-or-csr-for-your-organization Mon, 20 Nov 2023 02:45:00 -0500 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/striking-the-right-balance-esg-or-csr-for-your-organization

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives have taken over business strategy discussions as corporate activism rapidly becomes an expectation among employees and other stakeholders. But many organizations are finding it difficult to manage those expectations while still making an impact.

In Skillsoft’s recent CSR at work report, where we surveyed nearly 1,000 professionals across industries and geographies, more than 60% of respondents said that organizations should take a stand on social and/or political issues, yet many of these same people report that they are not aware of where their own company stands.

To truly understand your organization's goals – and your role in accomplishing them – you need to first understand the key differences between CSR and ESG practices. Although these terms are often used synonymously, they are not the same. And from charitable giving to scope 3 emissions, knowing the difference between CSR and ESG is crucial for not only your organization’s bottom line, but your public perception as well.

Let’s start with CSR.

You may have heard the term “CSR” first, and more often. CSR refers to a business model where organizations consider the impact of their operations on society and take action to promote social benefits both inside and outside of the company. Seventy-three percent of respondents from Skillsoft’s 2023 CSR at Work Report say CSR is “what we do at our organization”, while ESG is “what we report to our investors.”

While CSR efforts remain largely unregulated, at their core, they demonstrate an organization’s commitment to positive societal impacts. Yet, according to our report, 60% of professionals say CSR initiatives are merely an add-on to their organization’s main purpose and direction.

CSR programs vary widely. At Skillsoft, we prioritize in-kind donations, volunteerism, corporate philanthropy, and a sense of belonging via our Employee Advisory Groups. Your organization’s program may look quite different as CSR efforts are often driven by company leadership.

Unpacking ESG.

ESG, on the other hand, is a set of criteria used by multiple stakeholders, including investors and customers, to assess a company's performance in three key areas: environmental stewardship, social impact, and governance practices. These factors have become integral to investment decisions, reflecting the growing importance of sustainable and ethical business practices in financial performance.

Environmental considerations include a company's energy use, waste, pollution, and natural resource conservation. Social factors examine how a company manages relationships with employees, suppliers, customers, and communities. Governance pertains to a company's leadership structure, policies and procedures, internal controls, and other mechanisms designed to ensure accountability and responsibility within its business activities.

Unlike CSR, ESG is no longer optional; it's become core to an organization's strategy and can significantly impact a company's financial performance and long-term health. Results from our CSR at Work Report revealed that 55% of respondents view CSR as “anecdotal,” whereas ESG provides “solid data” about their organization’s contributions to the world.

We can help you navigate the alphabet soup of ESG frameworks.

The Distinction: Strategy vs. Action

The primary difference between CSR and ESG lies in the distinction between action and strategy. CSR is about actions—philanthropic efforts, community engagement, and environmentally friendly practices. It's about doing the right thing because it's good for the company's reputation and morale.

On the other hand, ESG is about strategy. It involves incorporating ethical and sustainable practices into the very fabric of a company's operations. ESG factors directly impact a company's financial performance and can influence investment decisions. Moreover, ESG standards seek comparable and measurable data, allowing companies to track progress and investors to make informed decisions.

Let’s break it down even more:

Integration into Business Strategy

CSR is often seen as an “add-on” to existing business strategies. It may not be intimately tied to the core business model or operations. ESG factors are integrated into the core strategy of a business. They are considered crucial in long-term business planning and value creation.

Learn more about how CSR can strengthen brand equity and customer loyalty.

Measurement and Reporting Requirements

CSR activities are usually reported in a separate CSR or sustainability report, and the metrics can vary widely from company to company. ESG factors are typically quantifiable and standardized across industries. They are often included in financial reports and are used by investors to assess a company's risk profile.

Stakeholder Engagement

CSR primarily focuses on the company's impact on the community and society at large. ESG takes a broader view, considering the company's impact on all stakeholders, including employees, investors, communities, and the environment.

Curious about the importance of transparency in CSR efforts?

The Bottom Line: Both CSR and ESG Matter

For large organizations, both CSR and ESG are essential. CSR initiatives enhance a company's reputation, boost employee morale, and demonstrate a commitment to societal impact. Meanwhile, strong ESG performance can attract investors, lead to better financial results, and ensure long-term stability.

By understanding the differences and finding the right balance between CSR and ESG, large organizations can drive growth while building a better future. As society becomes more socially conscious, it's no longer enough for companies to merely do well—they must also do good. Understanding and implementing both CSR and ESG initiatives is a crucial step in this direction.

Discover four ways to future-proof your CSR efforts.

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DB Systel’s Sprint Starter Program Helps New Grads Build Critical Skills https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/db-systels-sprint-starter-program-helps-new-grads-build-critical-skills Fri, 17 Nov 2023 05:16:00 -0500 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/db-systels-sprint-starter-program-helps-new-grads-build-critical-skills

With staff shortages, train delays, and worker strikes causing Germany’s struggling train system to gain international attention, a company like DB Systel GmbH has to be technically buttoned up itself, making sure its workforce is skilled to handle any and all technical issues that could potentially help trains run more smoothly.

Headquartered in Frankfurt, Germany, DB Systel GmbH helps rail businesses with mobility and logistics, IT consulting and digital platform challenges. It also provides information and communication technology solutions throughout Germany.

But like many organizations around the world, DB Systel suffers from talent shortages due to a growing skills gap.

Leadership realized that to stay competitive in the market — and remain the go-to mobility, IT, and digital platform for rail businesses — it must invest in the growth and development of current employees. Not to mention, it needed to recruit new talent that possessed the skills the business critically needed.

The challenge was finding the right talent.

Finding a Solution to Tech Recruiting

“We couldn't find those specific [employee] profiles that we needed,” explains DB Systel HR development specialist, Laura Steurer. Specifically, Steurer says they were looking for candidates with DevOps and networking automation skills.

The solution? DB Systel shifted its focus to recent college graduates, devising a program to recruit and train motivated new employees with the competencies they needed.

DB Systel leadership and HR invented what’s now known as the Sprint Starter program, tapping its existing relationship with Skillsoft to help make it happen.

Employee Onboarding Is Just the Beginning

Before partnering with Skillsoft, Steurer said the company took a much more traditional approach to onboarding and upskilling.

“We didn't use e-learning, videos, or any kind of online learning at all,” Steurer says. “We only had training with actual trainers standing right in front of employees in a classroom environment.”

That all changed in 2017 when DB Systel’s Skillsoft partnership shifted its onboarding approach — and employees’ mindsets — to a more digital format.

With the Skillsoft Percipio platform, the company can give employees “learning in parts,” integrating with overall DB Systel training. Training is focused on an employee’s role and adjusts during that employee’s career progression. These learning journeys can include both necessary job training and relevant employee interests.

Implementing the Sprint Starter Program to Help a Workforce Meet Skill Demands

Armed with the Skillsoft-powered onboarding process that was already favorable with both employees and managers, Steurer and the DB Systel team expanded on Skillsoft Percipio’s offerings to tackle its challenge of recruiting talent with the right skills.

Enter Sprint Starter: A three-month, skills-based intensive program, designed to onboard fresh college graduates into technical roles.

The program aligns with the end of German universities' academic semesters and includes a group of about 50 participants who start in either April or October (the times when new graduates are typically looking for jobs).

During each rotation, new recruits are trained in DB Systel’s most critically needed skills, including DevOps and networking automation skills.

“Those three months are quite packed with training of different kinds,” Steurer explains. In addition to DevOps, relevant training can include skills in cloud, software development, and even a blended learning path for Python beginners.

Using the Skillsoft Percipio platform, learners can absorb content at their own pace and then test their retention with skill benchmarks.

How Percipio Benefits Both Employee and Employer

From the HR team’s perspective, the Sprint Starter program has been universally successful at creating the skilled workforce DB Systel seeks.

The hiring approach has shifted: Instead of searching for the perfect candidates during the recruiting process, DB Systel can recruit bright, motivated candidates and train them in the skills needed to do the job.

And for participants, Steurer says the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

“The sprint starters appreciate that with Skillsoft Percipio, they can learn on their own, when they have time and at their own speed,” Steurer says. “And they have the Percipio license for at least the rest of the year, so even if they can't do all the training that we provide, they can go back and look at things they’re interested it in.”

For DB Systel, a huge benefit is the reporting Percipio provides, which allows leadership to enhance curriculum based on interest.

“We can generate a report on what our users are searching for, including themes to focus on,” Steurer explains. “For instance, a lot of employees have been looking for AI and ChatGPT in the last month, and we can actually create courses that fit employees’ searched topics.”

A Future of Skill Building

As the Sprint Starter program continues to evolve and adapt, it remains an innovative example of how companies can take a proactive approach to employee recruitment and development. While formal certifications aren’t part of the program, intrinsic personal growth absolutely is.

“The greatest achievement we had is that we gave our employees the opportunity to manage their skills and their upskilling by themselves,” Steurer says. “They actually get the mindset that learning is not something that someone does for you, but something you have to take care of on your own.”

Steurer also credits the Skillsoft team and Percipio technology with making the program not only a reality, but an ongoing success.

“Our employees value this opportunity, especially the e-learning spirit it brought to DB Systel, and the realization that it’s as valuable as physical classroom courses,” Steurer says. “Phillip [our Skillsoft customer success manager] always has good ideas on how to keep users engaged with Percipio, and I couldn’t wish for a better partner.”

DB Systel's Sprint Starter program is a shining example of how organizations can use learning technology to address real hiring challenges. By using the flexibility of modern e-learning platforms to educate willing employees, DB Systel is leading the IT talent race and positioning itself to thrive in the ever-changing world of technology.

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Responsibility is the Price of Greatness in CSR https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/responsibility-is-the-price-of-greatness-in-csr Thu, 16 Nov 2023 11:18:00 -0500 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/responsibility-is-the-price-of-greatness-in-csr

You are where you are today because you stand on somebody’s shoulders. And wherever you are heading, you cannot get there by yourself. If you stand on the shoulders of others, you have a reciprocal responsibility to live your life so that others may stand on your shoulders. It’s the quid pro quo of life. We exist temporarily through what we take, but we live forever through what we give.” - Vernon Jordan

How does your organization shoulder the responsibility of helping others?

For Skillsoft, helping the world around us is a central part of being a responsible business. Beyond turning a profit, responsible businesses require inspirational leadership, committed employees, invested stakeholders, and most importantly, a strong sense of purpose.

Business priorities are different today than they were 30 years ago. While profitability is critical, organizations are also concerned about doing good for their customers, employees, and the rest of the world. We’re Living — and working — in an era of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

To get to the bottom of this shift in corporate priorities, we need to look more closely at what — and who — is driving CSR efforts around the world. That’s why we’re publishing Skillsoft’s second-annual Corporate Social Responsibility at Work Report. The report is the result of surveying nearly 1,000 professionals from both public and private companies and across various industries, geographies, and job roles. It provides us with crucial information about how organizations are approaching CSR right now.

CSR: From Nice-To-Have to Necessary

Of all the people we surveyed, 62% of respondents said they believe that organizations should take a stand on social and political issues, which is a fundamental component of CSR. But, compared to last year, where “doing the right thing” was a top driver of corporate CSR programs and initiatives (40%), organizations in 2023 report that they are increasingly taking cues from customer feedback, public perception, and government mandates (50%).

Put another way, CSR used to be about altruism. But based on responses from this year’s survey, organizations are beginning to see their CSR programs as a binding commitment to fulfill obligations to various stakeholders.

Perhaps that’s one reason that 55% of respondents reported that their CSR budgets increased since last year, and that CSR efforts are increasingly being driven by their organization’s C-suite. As regulations become more complex, organizations are compelled to allocate more resources to them — both in the form of money and strategic direction.

The C-suite's involvement in a company's CSR program is vital for ensuring that CSR is integrated into the company's culture, strategy, and operations. This involvement sends a strong signal to internal and external stakeholders about the company's commitment to responsible and sustainable business practices.

CSR Is Here to Stay, but Know Your “Why”

For many, the reasons why organizations participate in CSR are not as important as their participation in the first place. After all, CSR benefits business in many ways, including:

  • Increased brand recognition
  • Better relationships with customers and employees
  • Improved morale and customer loyalty

And more importantly, CSR impacts society at large by providing a channel for positive social and environmental impact. However, understanding your organization’s “why” is crucial to the long-term success of your CSR program, and here are some compelling reasons:

Authenticity and Credibility: Stakeholders, including customers, employees, and investors, are more likely to view your organization’s actions as sincere and authentic when they are — in fact — sincere and authentic.

Ethical Considerations: A strong ethical foundation is a fundamental aspect of responsible corporate behavior and can lead to more meaningful and enduring contributions to society.

Legal and Regulatory Compliance: Companies that engage in CSR solely to meet legal obligations may not go beyond the minimum requirements and may not have the same positive impact as those with deeper motivations.

Sustainability: Companies that engage in CSR initiatives driven by a commitment to sustainability and responsible business practices are more likely to integrate CSR into their long-term strategies.

Sustainability and a Long-Term Commitment to CSR Initiatives

Organizations driven by a sense of purpose and commitment to CSR are more likely to invest in initiatives that have a lasting impact on the environment, society, and local communities. This long-term perspective is crucial for addressing complex social and environmental challenges — and it provides a solid foundation for change.

In fact, according to our survey respondents, the top indicator for a successful CSR program was an investment in long-term plans (35%), including training and education programs.

A long-term commitment to CSR initiatives is vital for companies to build trust, make positive impacts, manage risks, and remain competitive in a changing business environment. It goes beyond short-term public relations efforts and demonstrates a genuine dedication to responsible and sustainable business practices, which can yield numerous benefits over time.

But, many organizations still tread the line between meaningful action and using CSR as a PR tool. This is called “greenwashing” and has led to calls for greater transparency and accountability in CSR.

So, how can you make sure that your organization is committing to making change — and following through with the commitment?

Rather than treating sustainability and social and political justice as add-ons, companies need to integrate them into their core business strategies. This requires a cultural shift towards responsible and ethical decision-making, and a willingness to address complex global issues. Only then can corporate responsibility practices truly drive meaningful change and create a positive impact for all stakeholders.

What Are Organizations Doing to Engage Employees in CSR Initiatives?

The potential for CSR to drive positive change in the world remains significant, but every company must make sure they approach their goals with transparency, sincerity, and commitment.

When asked, “How does your organization plan to address issues related to CSR?” the top three survey responses were:

  1. Invest in long-term plans, not short-term campaigns (34.8%)
    • If organizations want to make a significant impact, they need to have long-term goals. It’s not just about profit or one-off programs. Sustainability is key.
  2. Commit time and people resources, not just money (32.4%)
    • Employees want to feel that they are making a difference. Incentives and recognition go a long way toward creating value.
  3. Create authentic connections and partnerships (20.3%)
    • An organization’s CSR efforts won’t be effective if you don’t “walk the walk” and partner with others who share a similar mindset.

As successful as your CSR program might be, there’s always room for reflection and improvement. That’s why it’s important to check in with company leaders and employees to see how resources can best be utilized throughout the organization, ensuring a program that is effective and accessible.

The Future of CSR

The responses we received from our survey provide valuable insight into what the CSR landscape looks like today, and how it may continue to evolve in the future.

And, the good news is that CSR is here to stay.

As more and more business leaders recognize the impact that CSR can have, and more and more employees become invested in contributing to a better world, clearly there are many benefits to adopting CSR initiatives and implementing them.

As Vernon Jordan said, “We live forever through what we give,” so let’s stand shoulder to shoulder and commit to effecting lasting change today.

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4 Compelling Reasons to Encourage AI Use Among Employees https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/4-compelling-reasons-to-encourage-ai-use-among-employees Wed, 15 Nov 2023 07:09:00 -0500 Sumithra.Appalabottula@sumtotalsystems.com (Sumithra Appalabottula) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/4-compelling-reasons-to-encourage-ai-use-among-employees

Much buzz has been made about Artificial Intelligence replacing jobs traditionally done by human workers. Is it a reality? To an extent. But the true function of generative AI is to augment human capabilities, not replace them.

As a tool, generative AI can automate repetitive tasks, and allow employees to focus on more creative and complex parts of their work. Essentially, it makes employees’ lives easier.

And that means businesses can benefit, big time. A recent McKinsey research report estimates that “generative AI could add the equivalent of $2.6 trillion to $4.4 trillion annually” to the global economy, with banking, high tech, and life sciences among the industries that could see the biggest impact. When employees use AI within their current roles, businesses often see increased productivity, less guess-work, and creative problem-solving.

Still wondering if you should encourage your employees to use generative AI? Read on for generative AI use cases, myth-busters, and reasons why allowing employees to use generative AI is paramount.

The Broad Advantages of Using Generative AI in the Workplace

1. Higher Productivity for Developers

Generative AI is changing the game for developers by automating and streamlining the development process. According to a Github blog post, “AI-assisted engineering workflows are quickly emerging with new generative AI coding tools that offer code suggestions and entire functions in response to natural language prompts and existing code.”

What does that mean? Developers can use AI-powered tools to generate code, identify and fix bugs, and even create detailed documentation. These time-saving capabilities let developers focus on more creative and complex tasks, accelerate project timelines, and reduce the risk of human error.

And developers are taking full advantage: a Stack Overflow 2023 Developer Survey study showed, “70% of all respondents are using or are planning to use AI tools in their development process this year.”

2. Faster Content Creation

It’s no secret that marketers need a constant flow of content — and that’s another area where generative AI comes through. Tasks like writing product descriptions, creating social media content and (ahem, case in point) generating blog posts are made easier with AI tools. They not only save time, but can also help maintain consistency in branding and messaging.

Developing content more quickly means marketers can engage with their audience more effectively and respond to trends and market changes in real-time. And while companies like OpenAI's GPT-3 (shout out, thanks for your help!) don’t always generate text that sounds exactly human, they can give you a framework from which to build content that feels like your brand’s voice.

3. Codified Coaching and Leadership Development

It may seem counterintuitive: coaching and leadership development should only require direct human interaction, right? But generative AI has been shown to benefit professionals in leadership positions, and help stressed out managers be better coaches.

With AI-generated training materials and personalized feedback, coaches and leaders can create customized development plans for their team members, aligning with their unique strengths and weaknesses.

AI-powered tools are also great for assessments and skills benchmarks. By incorporating generative AI in leadership development, organizations can enhance the growth of their employees and foster better leadership skills.

4. Better Data Analytics and Decision-Making

Data is the lifeblood of modern business, and — perhaps its greatest strength — generative AI can play a significant role in data analytics.

According to an article By the International Institute of Business Analysis, “AI for data analysis allows for processing large volumes of complex data at high speeds, leading to quicker and more accurate business insights.”

AI models can help data analysts in identifying patterns, predicting trends, and generating reports. These insights are crucial for informed decision-making, allowing organizations to adapt to changing market conditions and make strategic choices based on data-driven evidence.

Field Report: Industries Where Generative AI Excels

Generative AI is nothing if not versatile, and there are a few industries where it really shines in making workers' roles easier.

Healthcare

Medical researchers can use generative AI to analyze vast amounts of medical data against a patient’s symptoms. AI can therefore help doctors make better diagnoses and recommend treatment options, potentially saving lives and improving patient care.

While powerful, anyone in healthcare who plans to use a tool like ChatGPT should first check your organization’s internal policy or consult with legal counsel to ensure patient privacy and safeguard sensitive data.

Human Resources

AI can save hours of time for HR professionals who need to screen resumes and match candidates with open roles. Overall, it can make recruitment more efficient and effective. Not to mention, HR can use AI for onboarding, employee monitoring, and learning and development tasks.

Customer Support

AI-powered chatbots can enhance customer support by providing instant responses and resolving common issues fast. In fact, a McKinsey insight even credited AI with driving greater customer engagement.

Design and Creativity

Graphic designers and artists can use generative AI to create digital artwork, generate design concepts, and even assist in video editing. Like it or not, AI-generated art pieces have even won prizes.

While many worry that AI will replace human workers, promote biases, or push ethical boundaries, it’s up to companies to promote ethical and responsible AI use within their processes.

Responsible AI use includes:

  • Establishing ethical guidelines that prioritize fairness, transparency and responsible data management
  • Training employees on AI technology, recognizing biases, and maintaining privacy standards
  • Conducting regular audits of AI systems for ethical and legal compliance
  • Encouraging open communication for employees to report concerns

Read Next: Is Your Organization Using AI? Here’s How to Do it Ethically - Skillsoft

In short, generative AI is a powerful tool that can enhance productivity and creativity across industries, departments, and disciplines in the workplace.

Developers, marketers, coaches, leaders, and professionals from diverse fields can all benefit from AI-powered solutions. However, to fully harness the potential of generative AI, organizations must prioritize ethical boundaries, transparency, responsible use, and proper training.

Skillsoft can help. Together with Codecademy, Skillsoft offers several courses and resources to help organizations take full advantage of AI reliably and ethically. Read more about our courses on generative AI and ChatGPT here.

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The 20 Top-Paying IT Certifications Going Into 2024 https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/top-paying-it-certifications Tue, 14 Nov 2023 08:14:00 -0500 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/top-paying-it-certifications

Nearly all IT leaders agree that certified staff add value to their organizations, with most saying in excess of $30,000 a year. And when you consider the monetary costs of preparing for and sitting the exam, the payback is quite substantive, especially how those returns show up for the organization.

Most often, leaders notice an uptick in productivity as those employees who earn certifications feel energized and more engaged at work. But certifications make a difference in other ways too.

Shorter resolution times, projects move faster, deployments are smoother, and employee retention edges up as well. This is all according to recent findings from Skillsoft’s annual IT Skills and Salary survey, which has collected data about certifications and their value to individuals and organizations for nearly two decades. The survey also informs a comprehensive report you can find here, with a new volume releasing this December. Subscribe to the blog for updates on its release.

This year, we examined the reported salaries of individuals around the world to find the highest-paying certifications in the IT industry.

This list is the result of thousands of IT professionals graciously participating in the survey, which is distributed worldwide primarily by Skillsoft, but also by its partners like Google Cloud, Microsoft, ISACA, Nutanix, and CompTIA.

The cumulative results are fascinating insights into the value of skills and certifications. This year in the U.S. alone, more than 1,900 professionals took the survey. That’s how we’ve arrived at this specific list. However, this year, we’re also reporting the survey results of those who reside in Europe and the Middle East, the Asia-Pacific and Latin American regions to give a broader view of how certifications are valued around the world.

In this year’s list, you’ll see similar trends to past years. Certifications with a focus on cybersecurity or cloud computing tend to earn IT professionals higher salaries in part due to the sustained demand for these skills. Cybersecurity, in particular, continues to grow in importance to individuals and organizations as threats become more prevalent and severe — which also helps to drive up salaries for those with skills to combat them.

However, it’s important to remember salaries are the culmination of several factors, including the ability to apply your skills at work, job role, continuous professional development, tenure, and hard work. What’s more, this list also provides a snapshot of the average certification holder, including the average number of certifications held, the most popular cross-certification, if they are in management, and their average age.

As we compile this list, we look for certifications that have at least 50 survey responses — unless noted otherwise — before considering other factors. To see more about how we collected this data and compiled the list, read the methodology at the end of the post.

Let’s dive in.

#1 Google Cloud – Professional Cloud Architect

Average Annual Salary: $200,960

Google Cloud’s Professional Cloud Architect certification has ranked highly on this in the past, often trading places for the top with others like the Professional Data Engineer certification and comparable credentials from AWS. Last year, it ranked third with an average annual salary of $161,371.

This year, it's the highest-paying certification in the field.

Developments in cloud — particularly the reliance on and maturation of the technology — have led many in the industry to entrust providers like Google with their data. For reasons like these, cloud architects have grown increasingly necessary for organizations of all sizes.

This certification validates the holder's proficiency in crafting, managing, and implementing secure, scalable, and reliable cloud solutions using Google Cloud technologies. It signifies an individual's understanding of Google Cloud's infrastructure and services, enabling them to devise and optimize cloud architectures that are efficient, cost-effective, and resilient.

Google recommends professionals have at least three years of experience before sitting the exam, with at least one designing and managing solutions in Google Cloud. There is a $200 USD exam fee, and professionals have two hours to complete the exam. The certification lasts for two years before professionals must recertify. Testing is done online or from a testing center.

SEE OUR CERTIFICATION TRAINING FOR GOOGLE CLOUD

AVERAGE CERTIFICATION-HOLDER
Salary $200,960
Average number of certifications 9
Earned a certification in the last year 71%
Average age 38
Likely job role Cloud Architect
Popular cross certification AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate
% holding a cybersecurity certification 47%
% in management 30%

#2 Google Cloud – Professional Data Engineer

Average Annual Salary: $193,621

Google Cloud's Professional Data Engineer certification has historically earned IT professionals high salaries, and there are even fewer exceptions to this rule today. Roles like data engineers, scientists and specialists continue to grow in demand — much faster than average in the U.S. — as data and its application become far more critical to how virtually everyone makes decisions.

This certification validates an individual's capability to construct and manage effective data processing systems using Google Cloud. It affirms their ability to create secure, scalable, and reliable data solutions.

In this way, organizations stand to gain substantially by employing those who've earned this certification, as they bring specialized expertise in handling and analyzing vast datasets. Their skills in developing data processing systems can help organizations enhance operational efficiency, make data-driven decisions, and drive innovation.

To earn this certification, candidates must pass the exam, which has some changes coming Nov. 13, according to Google. The new exam will focus more on changes to Google Cloud's data storing, sharing, and governance, and less on operationalizing machine learning models. The exam costs $200 USD. It's 50 to 60 questions, taken over two hours.

Google does recommend at least three years of professional experience, with at least one working with its platform, before sitting the exam. If passed, you'll have two years before the certification expires.

SEE OUR CERTIFICATION TRAINING FOR GOOGLE CLOUD

AVERAGE CERTIFICATION-HOLDER
Salary $193,621
Average number of certifications 9
Earned a certification in the last year 69%
Average age 39
Likely job role Cloud Architect
Popular cross certification AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate
% holding a cybersecurity certification 47%
% in management 34%

#3 PMP®: Project Management Professional

Average Annual Salary: $176,116

The Project Management Institute (PMI®) Project Management Professional (PMP) is one of the most highly regarded certifications of its kind, and it continues to show up on this list year after year. It provides employers and customers with a level of assurance that a project manager has both experience and knowledge.

In 2022, this certification earned professionals $148,290 on average, ranking seventh on the list. The substantive uptick in average earnings may reflect the growing demand for project managers and project management skills as a persistent gap exists. This year's IT Skills and Salary survey revealed that more than half of IT decision-makers rank their team's abilities in this area as medium to low, with only 14% saying their team's skills are high. PMI reports 25 million project management professionals are needed by 2030 to close the talent gap.

To earn the PMP, candidates must meet the Institute’s requirements. Candidates must have a four-year degree, three years of experience leading projects, and 35 hours of project management education or a CAPM® certification. Or, candidates must have a high school diploma, five years of experience, and 35 hours of project management education/training or hold the CAPM® certification. Then, pass the exam. It consists of 180 questions.

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AVERAGE CERTIFICATION-HOLDER
Salary $176,116
Average number of certifications 7
Earned a certification in the last year 66%
Average age 49
Likely job role Project Manager
Popular cross certification ITIL 4 Foundation
% holding a cybersecurity certification 58%
% in management 56%

#4 AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional

Average Annual Salary: $174,137

Last year, the AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Professional certification topped this list, with an average annual salary of $168,080. AWS certifications have continued to command high salaries for IT professionals due to the assurances they bring to organizations seeking highly skilled talent. What’s more, AWS is one of the top vendors IT leaders plan to invest in this coming year, so having reliable, skilled professionals architecting their cloud infrastructures becomes increasingly important.

This certification validates an individual's advanced technical skills and expertise in designing and deploying scalable, highly available, and fault-tolerant systems on the AWS platform. This certification, designed for seasoned solutions architects, serves as a testament to their comprehensive understanding of AWS architecture and design. Certification holders bring specialized knowledge in devising and implementing complex AWS architectures, optimizing infrastructure, enhancing security, and reducing costs.

AWS recommends two or more years of hands-on experience and familiarity with a scripting language, Windows, Linux, and many AWS services. Candidates pursuing this certification should also feel confident translating business requirements into technical solutions.

Earning this certification requires professionals to pass the current exam. The exam costs $300 USD, lasts 180 minutes, and consists of 75 questions. It can be taken online or at a Pearson VUE testing center.

Read Next: The Top 5 Highest-Paying AWS Certifications

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AVERAGE CERTIFICATION-HOLDER
Salary $174,137
Average number of certifications 15
Earned a certification in the last year 63%
Average age 36
Likely job role Cloud Architect
Popular cross certification Google Cloud Certified - Professional Cloud Architect
% holding a cybersecurity certification 72%
% in management 49%

#5 CISM - Certified Information Security Manager

Average Annual Salary: $167,396

ISACA's Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) certification continues to be a highly credible, high-paying credential in the cybersecurity field. Last year, it ranked as the second highest-paying certification, commanding an average annual salary of $162,347.

CISM sustains its presence this year for good reason. Cybersecurity continues to remain a top priority for organizations who must protect sensitive data from ceaseless threat actors. This certification signals to organizations and industry peers that a professional can lead security teams and efforts effectively.

CISM validates the ability to manage, design and assess an enterprise’s information security. It proves expertise in these domains: information security governance, information security risk management, information security program, and incident management.

To earn this certification, professionals must first have five years of professional work experience in the required domains before they can sit the exam, which costs $575 USD for ISACA members and $760 USD for non-members.

Read Next:A Guide to the Highest-Paying ISACA Certifications

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AVERAGE CERTIFICATION-HOLDER
Salary $167,396
Average number of certifications 9
Earned a certification in the last year 55%
Average age 46
Likely job role Information Security
Popular cross certification Security+
% holding a cybersecurity certification 100%
% in management 68%

#6 AWS Certified Security – Specialty

Average Annual Salary: $166,449

Ranked in the same position this year is the AWS Certified Security — Specialty certification. Last year, at number six on the list, it earned professionals an average salary of $149,741.

The AWS Certified Security – Specialty certification validates the ability to secure data in the AWS cloud and successfully navigate complex security challenges. This certification showcases an individual's proficiency in managing security controls, understanding AWS security services, and handling incident response. It serves as a testament to a candidate’s knowledge and skills in safeguarding AWS environments, highlighting their specialization in cloud security.

AWS recommends professionals who want to pursue this certification have at least five years of experience in an IT security role, with two years of working knowledge securing AWS workloads. What’s more, those professionals should have strong familiarity with AWS security services, logging and monitoring strategies, cloud security threat models, security operations and risks, and more.

To earn the certification, professionals must pass the exam. The exam costs $300 USD. It’s 65 questions and candidates have 170 minutes to complete it.

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AVERAGE CERTIFICATION-HOLDER
Salary $166,449
Average number of certifications 18
Earned a certification in the last year 46%
Average age 34
Likely job role Information Security
Popular cross certification CISSP
% holding a cybersecurity certification 100%
% in management 62%

#7 Google Cloud Professional - Cloud Database Engineer

Average Annual Salary: $163,193

Google Cloud's Professional Cloud Database Engineer certification is for those who are responsible for designing, managing, and troubleshooting databases to ensure scalable and cost-effective solutions that meet both business and technical requirements.

To earn this certification, candidates must be familiar with these areas:

  • Designing highly scalable, available databases
  • Managing sprawling database solutions
  • Migrating data solutions
  • Deploying solutions in Google Cloud

Above are the four main topics of the exam. Within each section, candidates will be tested on their abilities to assess and evaluate solutions, administer the platform, and more.

Before sitting the exam, Google recommends professionals have at least five years of database experience, two of which should be hands-on with its solutions. The exam costs $200 USD, lasts two hours, and ranges between 50 and 60 questions

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AVERAGE CERTIFICATION-HOLDER
Salary $163,193
Average number of certifications 12
Earned a certification in the last year 51%
Average age 34
Likely job role Cloud Architect
Popular cross certification AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner
% holding a cybersecurity certification 67%
% in management 47%

#8 Google Cloud Associate - Cloud Engineer

Average Annual Salary: $161,075

Google Cloud’s Associate Cloud Engineer certification is for those who are responsible for deploying and managing enterprise solutions. These professionals are adept at deploying applications, optimizing infrastructure, and ensuring the reliability and security of cloud-based systems.

To earn this certification, candidates are assessed on their ability to set up, configure, deploy, and ensure the successful operation of cloud solutions. Once achieved, it opens up doors to Google’s professional-level certifications, many seen elsewhere on this list.

There are no prerequisites to sitting the exam, however, Google recommends six months of experience working with the platform. The exam lasts two hours, costs $125 USD and spans up to 60 questions. Unlike others that expire in two years, this certification remains valid for three years.

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AVERAGE CERTIFICATION-HOLDER
Salary $161,075
Average number of certifications 12
Earned a certification in the last year 80%
Average age 34
Likely job role Cloud Engineer
Popular cross certification AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner
% holding a cybersecurity certification 67%
% in management 35%

#9 AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate

Average Annual Salary: $160,052

Consistently a popular and high-paying certification is the AWS Certified Solutions Architect — Associate, the precursor to the professional-level credential ranked higher on this list. Last year, it earned professionals an average salary of $155,020.

The AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate certification is a highly respected credential that validates an individual's ability to design and deploy scalable, robust, and fault-tolerant systems on the AWS platform. This certification demonstrates proficiency over various AWS services, including compute, networking, storage, and database. It also attests to the professional's competency in implementing security controls and compliance requirements.

Those who hope to sit this exam should have strong familiarity with the AWS Well-Architected Framework, and it helps to know the basics of programming, though AWS says deep coding experience isn’t required. To achieve this certification, candidates must pass the exam. AWS recommends a year of hands-on experience designing systems on its platform before taking the exam.

The exam costs $150 USD. Professionals have 130 minutes to complete the 65-question exam.

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AVERAGE CERTIFICATION-HOLDER
Salary $160,052
Average number of certifications 12
Earned a certification in the last year 69%
Average age 38
Likely job role Cloud Architect
Popular cross certification Google Cloud Certified - Professional Cloud Architect
% holding a cybersecurity certification 60%
% in management 42%

#10 CISSP - Certified Information Systems Security Professional

Average Annual Salary: $156,699

ISC2's Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) has been a consistently popular and well-regarded certification in the field, leading to high salaries reflected on this list for years. From 2022 to this year, the reported annual earnings stayed consistent. Last year, professionals reported an average annual salary of $158,191.

Earning the CISSP certification has been compared to earning a master’s degree in IT security, as it proves professionals have what it takes to effectively design, implement, and manage a cybersecurity program.

The CISSP exam is based around eight domains in information security:

  • Security and Risk Management
  • Asset Security
  • Security Architecture and Engineering
  • Communication and Network Security
  • Identity and Access Management (IAM)
  • Security Assessment and Testing
  • Security Operations
  • Software Development Security

To achieve this certification, candidates also need at least five years of paid, relevant work experience in two or more of the CISSP domains.

If you lack the necessary experience, you can still take the certification exam and become an Associate of ISC2 if you pass. Then, you’ll have up to six years to obtain the required experience to earn your CISSP. The exam is $749 USD, and starting April 2024, the exam will refresh.

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AVERAGE CERTIFICATION-HOLDER
Salary $156,699
Average number of certifications 11
Earned a certification in the last year 63%
Average age 44
Likely job role Security Manager or Director
Popular cross certification Security+
% holding a cybersecurity certification 100%
% in management 64%

#11 CISA - Certified Information Systems Auditor

Average Annual Salary: $154,500

Also ranking in the same position this year is ISACA's Certified Information Systems Auditor certification. Last year, in the eleventh position, it earned certification holders an average salary of $142,336.

CISA-certified professionals can serve as the conduit between technical, legal and compliance teams and ensure organizations protect privacy and manage risk in an efficient, cost-effective way.

This certification has been around since 1978, making it one of the oldest, and most respected, credentials on this list. ISACA’s CISA certification validates audit, risk and cybersecurity skills pertaining to these domains:

  • Information Systems Auditing Process
  • Governance and Management of IT
  • Information Systems Acquisition, Development, and Implementation
  • Information Systems Operations and Business Resilience
  • Protection of Information Assets

Earning this certification means you meet the minimum requirements and pass the exam. Like the CISM, professionals who pursue this exam must have at least five years of professional auditing experience. The exam costs $575 USD for ISACA members and $760 USD for non-members. Starting August 2024, there will be an updated exam.

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AVERAGE CERTIFICATION-HOLDER
Salary $154,500
Average number of certifications 8
Earned a certification in the last year 53%
Average age 43
Likely job role Information Security
Popular cross certification CISSP
% holding a cybersecurity certification 100%
% in management 61%

#12 AWS Certified Advanced Networking – Specialty

Average Annual Salary: $153,031

The AWS Certified Advanced Networking - Specialty certification is meant for those who wish to prove their expertise working with complex networks.

According to the IT Skills and Salary survey, more than half of IT leaders say their team’s networking skills fall somewhere between medium and low. That’s to say, relatively few feel very confident in their team’s abilities in this area (7% who say “high”), creating an opportunity for specialists — like those with this certification — to have an outsized impact on their teams and likely earn generous salaries, like what’s shown here.

A specialty certification, it's meant for those with at least five years of experience. Like other specialty certifications, AWS also recommends having hands-on experience with AWS services, security, and storage best practices. Candidates for this certification should also have knowledge of networking architectures, interconnectivity options, developing automation scripts and tools, and network security.

To earn this certification, candidates must pass the exam, which consists of 65 questions, lasts 170 minutes, and costs $300 USD.

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AVERAGE CERTIFICATION-HOLDER
Salary $153,031
Average number of certifications 14
Earned a certification in the last year 57%
Average age 33
Likely job role Application Development Manager
Popular cross certification CISSP
% holding a cybersecurity certification 92%
% in management 72%

#13 AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional

Average Annual Salary: $150,546

The AWS Certified DevOps Engineer - Professional certification demonstrates an individual's proficiency in operating and managing distributed application systems on the AWS platform. This certification has seen an increase in demand over the past several years, as more employers require it for hire, according to Lightcast.

Candidates who plan to pursue this certification should have at least two years of experience provisioning, operating, and managing AWS environments. They should also know at least one programming language and feel confident building a highly automated infrastructure. Other helpful skills:

  • Administering operating systems
  • Familiarity with modern development processes
  • Familiarity with continuous delivery systems and security controls on AWS

To earn this certification, candidates must pass the exam, which costs $300 USD and lasts for 180 minutes. It can be taken at a Pearson VUE testing center or online.

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AVERAGE CERTIFICATION-HOLDER
Salary $150,546
Average number of certifications 17
Earned a certification in the last year 47%
Average age 33
Likely job role Software Engineer
Popular cross certification IQBBA-CFLBA
% holding a cybersecurity certification 91%
% in management 67%

#14 BTA Certified Blockchain Security Professional (CBSP)

Average Annual Salary: $129,185

This certification from the Blockchain Training Alliance hasn't made the list before, partly due to a lack of responses collected, but reports of a recent spike in demand for these skills help explain what could be a notable rise in certifications on the topic. Further, IT leaders say their teams’ blockchain skills could be improved, with 66% saying they're medium to low. Only 9% feel confident (or rank those skills as “high”) in their team's skill, according to the IT Skills and Salary survey.

The Certified Blockchain Security Professional (CBSP) certification validates one's expertise in blockchain security. The exam covers twelve sections, including topics such as fundamental blockchain security, smart contract security, and blockchain risk assessment.

The CBSP certification is suitable for various professionals, including blockchain architects, developers, system administrators, and network security architects. It verifies their understanding of security threats and attacks on blockchain networks, best practices for blockchain security, and risk mitigation techniques.

To earn the certification, candidates must pass a 70-question multiple-choice exam that lasts 90 minutes. It is a performance-based assessment, meaning candidates must demonstrate their ability to apply their knowledge to real-world scenarios. Exams are online, and it costs $275 USD.

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AVERAGE CERTIFICATION-HOLDER
Salary $129,185
Average number of certifications 15
Earned a certification in the last year 48%
Average age 35
Likely job role Security Administrator
Popular cross certification AWS Certified Database - Specialty
% holding a cybersecurity certification 100%
% in management 78%

#15 Cisco CCNA

Average Annual Salary: $128,651

The CCNA certification demonstrates your ability to navigate the evolving IT field by covering networking fundamentals, security, automation, and more. With CCNA training, you gain the skills to excel in managing and improving advanced networks.

It's one of the first certifications a candidate can earn to then branch out to other, more advanced certifications, like Cisco's CCNP Enterprise, which has historically made this list in the past. This year, only 19 respondents to the survey reported having the certification in the U.S. We look for 50 to 100 to report these figures more reliably. Those who responded earned an average salary of $160,399, which would place it high on this list.

Those who go after this certification tend to hold careers as network administrators or engineers. To earn the certification, you must pass the exam. It tests candidates on these topics, including:

  • Network fundamentals
  • Network access
  • IP connectivity
  • IP services
  • Security fundamentals
  • Automation and programmability

The certification remains valid for three years. Candidates must complete their exam through one of the Pearson VUE testing centers around the world. It costs $300 USD and lasts 120 minutes.

SEE OUR CERTIFICATION TRAINING FOR CISCO

AVERAGE CERTIFICATION-HOLDER
Salary $128,651
Average number of certifications 10
Earned a certification in the last year 58%
Average age 43
Likely job role Network Engineer
Popular cross certification Security+
% holding a cybersecurity certification 73%
% in management 44%

The Extended Cut of Our Top-Paying It Certifications List

This list has a long history of sharing the 15 top-paying IT certifications. However, as more certifications come onto the scene and technology evolves, we’re broadening our horizons to look further and dig deeper into the survey findings.

New this year is an extension of our annual list. Below, you’ll find another five certifications that earn IT professionals generous salaries due to their rigor, credibility and validation. For those in leadership building a team, certifications like the ones below not only prove that a prospective candidate has the skills you’re after, but demonstrate their commitment to learning, personal and professional development, and interest in going above and beyond.

Let’s keep going.

#16 AWS Certified Developer – Associate

Average Annual Salary: $127,259

The AWS Certified Developer - Associate certification validates knowledge and proficiency in core services, best practices, and developing cloud-based applications. It's also a great building block toward more advanced or specialized certifications, like many others on this list.

This certification is best suited for individuals who have experience in a developer role, know at least one programming language, and have familiarity with AWS. It is also beneficial for those who wish to earn this credential to have strong on-premises IT experience and a solid understanding of transitioning from on-premises to cloud environments.

Earning this certification means first sitting the exam, which consists of 65 multiple-choice and multiple-response questions and allows roughly 130 minutes to complete. The cost of the exam is $150 USD, and it can be taken at a Pearson VUE testing center or through an online proctored exam.

SEE OUR CERTIFICATION TRAINING FOR AWS

AVERAGE CERTIFICATION-HOLDER
Salary $127,259
Average number of certifications 13
Earned a certification in the last year 53%
Average age 34
Likely job role Software Engineer
Popular cross certification IIBA-CCBA
% holding a cybersecurity certification 75%
% in management 66%

#17 AWS Certified Database – Specialty

Average Annual Salary: $122,677

The AWS Certified Database - Specialty proves an individual's knowledge to design, administer and recommend the best database solutions based on the needs of the organization.

Today, those in IT leadership feel their teams’ abilities in this area are generally strong, with 39% saying their staff’s skills are somewhat high or high, according to the IT Skills and Salary survey. However, the highest percentage of respondents (42%) say their team’s skills fall somewhere in the middle of high and low. Likely, this leaves many data-focused teams with skills gaps, which often add stress or hamper projects. Those who pursue this certification become a valued team member who can alleviate issues like these.

It's best suited for those with experience administering on-premises and cloud relational and non-relational databases. Candidates should have five years of experience, with at least two hands-on working with AWS. They must feel confident designing database solutions using AWS services based on the needs and requirements of the organization.

The exam is 180 minutes and costs $300 USD. It consists of 65 questions, which can be either multiple choice or multiple response. The exam can be taken at a Pearson VUE testing center or through online proctoring.

SEE OUR CERTIFICATION TRAINING FOR AWS

AVERAGE CERTIFICATION-HOLDER
Salary $122,677
Average number of certifications 12
Earned a certification in the last year 25%
Average age 33
Likely job role Software Engineer
Popular cross certification IIBA-ECBA
% holding a cybersecurity certification 79%
% in management 70%

#18 CompTIA Security+

Average Annual Salary: $121,653

Among the most popular IT certifications, CompTIA's Security+ has made this list at varying ranks in the past. While popular, passing this exam calls for celebration as it covers a broad range of topics and requires close study to gain the familiarity necessary. Said differently, it’s not an easy exam to pass.

However, once earned, professionals open up opportunities to both advance their careers and deepen their expertise in this area. It often serves as an employment requirement and meets the Department of Defense's directive 8140/8570.01-M.

The new CompTIA Security+ exam went live on Nov. 7, 2023. Check with your training provider or CompTIA to learn more about these changes and what to study in advance of sitting the exam.

In the meantime, here are the new exam domains:

  • General Security Concepts
  • Threats, Vulnerabilities, and Mitigations
  • Security Architecture
  • Security Operations
  • Security Program Management and Oversight

The exam costs $392 USD, consists of 90 questions, and lasts 90 minutes. Candidates should have their Network+ and at least two years of professional IT experience before attempting this test.

Read Next:The 3 Most Popular CompTIA Certifications (And What They Pay)

SEE OUR CERTIFICATION TRAINING FOR COMPTIA

AVERAGE CERTIFICATION-HOLDER
Salary $121,653
Average number of certifications 10
Earned a certification in the last year 63%
Average age 42
Likely job role Security Engineer or Analyst
Popular cross certification Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals
% holding a cybersecurity certification 100%
% in management 38%

#19 CompTIA CYSA+ (Cybersecurity Analyst)

Average Annual Salary: $121,043

CompTIA's CySA+, or Cybersecurity Analyst, certification is the intermediate security credential that falls between Security+ and CASP+, or Advanced Security Practitioner, which calls for at least five years of professional experience.

To earn this certification, candidates are tested on threat detection techniques, their ability to analyze data, identify vulnerabilities, respond to incidents, and more. The latest exam was updated in June 2023, now with greater emphasis on threat hunting, automating intel, and using various tools to monitor and respond to incidents.

The new CySA+ exam covers these domains, according to CompTIA:

  • Security Operations (33%)
  • Vulnerability Management (30%)
  • Incident Response Management (20%)
  • Reporting and Communication (17%)

The exam features up to 85 questions, lasts 165 minutes, and candidates should have their Network+ and Security+ — or similar expertise — and have roughly four years of hands-on work experience.

SEE OUR CERTIFICATION TRAINING FOR COMPTIA

AVERAGE CERTIFICATION-HOLDER
Salary $121,043
Average number of certifications 14
Earned a certification in the last year 65%
Average age 39
Likely job role Security Engineer or Analyst
Popular cross certification CISSP
% holding a cybersecurity certification 100%
% in management 48%

#20 Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate

Average Annual Salary: $120,622

Microsoft’s Azure Administrator Associate certification is the most popular offered by the company just behind its Azure Fundamentals credential, according to the IT Skills and Salary survey.

Among the results, Microsoft continually proves to be one of the most popular certification providers represented in the survey. What’s more, it’s the top vendor IT leaders plan to invest in this coming year, with 46% in agreement.

The leading reason for training, according to the survey, is to support product or solution deployments, which provides clearer reason why these certifications remain particularly popular. When seeking prospective hires, certifications assure IT leaders candidates have the skills and knowledge needed for the role.

This certification helps prove to leaders that a candidate knows how to administer an enterprise’s Azure environment. To earn the credential, it requires expertise in implementing, managing, and monitoring Azure environments, covering areas like virtual networks, storage, compute, identity, security, and governance.

The exam tests candidates' knowledge on these topics:

  • Azure identity and governance management
  • Storage implementation and management
  • Azure compute resource deployment and management
  • Virtual networking implementation and management
  • Azure resource monitoring and maintenance

Candidates should also have a solid understanding of operating systems, networking, servers, and virtualization. Microsoft says candidates should have familiarity with tools like PowerShell, Azure CLI, Azure portal, Azure Resource Manager templates, and Microsoft Entra ID. The exam costs $165 USD.

Read Next:The Top 5 Highest-Paying Microsoft Azure Certifications

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AVERAGE CERTIFICATION-HOLDER
Salary $120,622
Average number of certifications 12
Earned a certification in the last year 72%
Average age 39
Likely job role Cloud Engineer
Popular cross certification Security+
% holding a cybersecurity certification 67%
% in management 47%

Just Missed the Cut

When compiling this list, we’ve historically looked for certifications that have between 50 and 100 responses minimum to feel more confident in reporting salaries and the supporting data.

However, depending on the region, some certifications just miss the cut but are nonetheless worthy of a mention because of their relevance and reverence in the field.

Here are a few more certifications that just barely missed the cut:

Google Cloud Certified - Professional Cloud Developer

Average Annual Salary: $178,270

The Google Cloud Certified - Professional Cloud Developer certification showcases expertise in designing, building, and managing robust, scalable applications with Google Cloud technologies. It confirms the ability to leverage Google Cloud for application development.

The certification exam assesses building and designing Google Cloud solutions, managing application data, optimizing performance, and ensuring security and compliance. The exam can be taken remotely or at a test center. The cost of the exam is $200 USD.

SEE OUR CERTIFICATION TRAINING FOR GOOGLE CLOUD

AVERAGE CERTIFICATION-HOLDER
Salary $178,270
Average number of certifications 12
Earned a certification in the last year 62%
Average age 35
Likely job role Cloud Architect
Popular cross certification AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner
% holding a cybersecurity certification 65%
% in management 33%

Nutanix Certified Professional - Multicloud Infrastructure (NCP-MCI) v6.5

Average Annual Salary: $139,361

The Nutanix Certified Professional – Multicloud Infrastructure (NCP-MCI) certification ranked as the eighth highest-paying certification on this in 2022 and continues to command high salaries for professionals who pass the exam.

Earning this certification proves your abilities to deploy and manage virtual infrastructure components and VMs, perform operational maintenance tasks, and initiate disaster recovery, according to Nutanix. It’s best suited for those with roughly three years of professional experience, including one working with Nutanix specifically.

The knowledge objectives:

  • Manage Cluster, Nodes, and Features
  • Manage Cluster Storage
  • Configure Cluster Networking and Network Security
  • Analyze and Remediate Performance Issues
  • Configure, Analyze, and Remediate Alerts and Events
  • Manage VM Deployment and Configuration

To earn this certification, candidates must pass the exam. It costs $199 USD, spanning 75 questions. Professionals have 120 minutes to complete the exam.

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AVERAGE CERTIFICATION-HOLDER
Salary $139,361
Average number of certifications 7
Earned a certification in the last year 85%
Average age 38
Likely job role Systems Engineer
Popular cross certification Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate
% holding a cybersecurity certification 31%
% in management 16%

Microsoft Certified: Azure AI Fundamentals

Average Annual Salary: $126,517

The Microsoft Certified: Azure AI Fundamentals certification validates a basic understanding of machine learning, AI concepts, and Azure services. It demonstrates the ability to describe AI workloads, machine learning principles on Azure, and features of computer vision and NLP workloads on Azure. Microsoft recommends programming experience.

The skills tested:

  • Artificial intelligence workloads and considerations
  • Fundamental principles of machine learning on Azure
  • Computer vision workloads on Azure
  • Natural Language Processing (NLP) workloads on Azure

The certification exam can be scheduled with Pearson VUE or Certiport in multiple languages. The exam cost $99 USD.

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AVERAGE CERTIFICATION-HOLDER
Salary $126,517
Average number of certifications 15
Earned a certification in the last year 48%
Average age 38
Popular cross certification AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner
% holding a cybersecurity certification 76%
% in management 48%

The Highest-Paying Certifications Worldwide

Below are the highest-paying certifications worldwide, according to the IT Skills and Salary survey. The survey was completed by 5,000+ IT professionals around the world, with the most responses from these countries:

  1. United States (35%)
  2. India (9%)
  3. Canada (4%)
  4. United Kingdom (4%)
  5. Brazil (4%)
  6. The Netherlands (3%)
  7. Australia (3%)
  8. France (2%)
  9. Spain (2%)
  10. Nigeria (2%)

In December, a new volume of the IT Skills and Salary Report will release, giving a more holistic view into global skills and certification trends. Remember to subscribe to Skillsoft’s blog to get updated on its release.

CERTIFICATIONSALARY
Google Cloud Certified - Professional Cloud Network Engineer $163,198
Google Cloud Certified - Professional Cloud Security Engineer $159,135
Google Cloud Certified - Professional Cloud DevOps Engineer $148,781
Google Cloud Certified - Professional Data Engineer $148,082
Google Cloud Certified - Professional Cloud Developer $147,253
Google Cloud Certified - Professional Cloud Architect $146,212
CISSP - Certified Information Systems Security Professional $140,069
AWS Certified Security - Specialty $138,053
AWS Certified Advanced Networking – Specialty $137,698
Google Cloud Certified - Professional Cloud Database Engineer $137,394
AWS Certified Machine Learning – Specialty $136,595
PMP®: Project Management Professional $135,784
Google Cloud Certified - Professional Machine Learning Engineer $134,373
CRISC - Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control $133,616
AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional $132,852
Certified Scrum Product Owner $132,230
CISM - Certified Information Security Manager $131,967
CCIE Data Center $128,948
CDPSE - Certified Data Privacy Solutions Engineer $127,403
Certified ScrumMaster $125,497

The Highest-Paying Certifications in Europe and the Middle East

In this year’s survey, more than 1,600* people who live in Europe and the Middle East completed the IT Skills and Salary survey, ranking these certifications as the highest paying across the region.

*Some certifications in this table have sample sizes of fewer than 50 responses, which is the benchmark Skillsoft uses to present survey data.

CERTIFICATIONSALARY
Google Cloud Certified - Professional Cloud Security Engineer $172,380
Google Cloud Certified - Professional Cloud Developer $154,841
Google Cloud Certified - Professional Cloud Architect $140,408
Google Cloud Certified - Professional Data Engineer $135,890
CISSP - Certified Information Systems Security Professional $128,640
AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional $122,919
CRISC - Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control $114,648
AWS Certified SAP on AWS – Specialty $109,569
Google Cloud Certified - Associate Cloud Engineer $103,909
Microsoft Certified: Azure AI Engineer Associate $101,832
AWS Certified Database – Specialty $98,633
CISM - Certified Information Security Manager $97,604
AWS Certified Developer – Associate $97,399
Microsoft Certified: Azure Developer Associate $97,283
Microsoft Certified: DevOps Engineer Expert $92,483
CISA - Certified Information Systems Auditor $92,186
AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate $91,773
Microsoft Certified: Azure DevOps Engineer Expert $89,232
AWS Certified Data Analytics – Specialty $87,714
Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert $86,510

The Highest-Paying Certifications in the Asia-Pacific Region

The Asia-Pacific region accounted for more than 850* complete responses to this year’s survey, showing these as the highest-paying certifications.

*The certifications in this table have sample sizes of fewer than 50 responses, which is the benchmark Skillsoft uses to present survey data.

CERTIFICATIONSALARY
Google Cloud Certified - Professional Cloud Network Engineer $113,318
CISM - Certified Information Security Manager $109,819
Google Cloud Certified - Professional Cloud Developer $101,841
Google Cloud Certified - Professional Cloud DevOps Engineer $98,071
AWS Certified SAP on AWS – Specialty $96,126
AWS Certified Advanced Networking – Specialty $95,376
Google Cloud Certified - Professional Cloud Database Engineer $93,979
Google Cloud Certified - Professional Data Engineer $93,199
Google Cloud Certified - Professional Cloud Architect $90,849
AWS Certified Data Analytics – Specialty $87,469
CISSP - Certified Information Systems Security Professional $87,299
Microsoft Certified: Azure AI Engineer Associate $87,059
AWS Certified Security - Specialty $79,962
Microsoft Certified: Azure DevOps Engineer Expert $75,007
AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional $74,390
Google Cloud Certified - Professional Cloud Security Engineer $73,233
AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional $70,797
CISA - Certified Information Systems Auditor $68,339
AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate $68,212
Microsoft Certified: Identity and Access Administrator Associate $62,971

The Highest-Paying Certifications in the Latin American Region

The Latin American region accounted for more than 380* complete responses to this year’s survey, showing these as the highest-paying certifications.

*The certifications in this table have sample sizes of fewer than 50 responses, which is the benchmark Skillsoft uses to present survey data.

CERTIFICATIONSALARY
Google Cloud Certified - Professional Cloud Security Engineer $119,622
AWS Certified Data Analytics – Specialty $103,636
Google Cloud Certified - Professional Cloud Architect $92,192
AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional $85,250
CCSM - Check Point Security Master $85,200
Google Cloud Certified - Professional Data Engineer $85,168
VMware Certified Professional - Data Center Virtualization 2023 $76,836
Certified ScrumMaster $72,288
Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert $67,951
Google Cloud Certified - Associate Cloud Engineer $65,619
Microsoft Certified: Azure Security Engineer Associate $62,433
AWS Certified Developer – Associate $61,687
AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate $60,093
Nutanix Certified Master - Multicloud Infrastructure (NCM-MCI) v5.20 $58,542
Nutanix Certified Associate (NCA) v6.5 $57,416
Nutanix Certified Professional - Multicloud Infrastructure (NCP-MCI) v6.5 $57,241
Nutanix Certified Professional - Unified Storage (NCP-US) v6 $56,750
Security+ $56,719
CCNA $56,325
AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner $56,300

How We Built the List

Our U.S. list of the top-paying certifications is based on responses to Skillsoft's IT Skills and Salary survey conducted May 2023 to September 2023. The survey asks respondents about their current jobs, experiences, certifications, salaries, and more. Respondents encounter multiple choice and multi-select, open-ended, rank choice, and other types of questions while taking the survey.

The survey is distributed to IT professionals around the world by technology providers, certification bodies and Skillsoft, among others. Almost 2,000 IT professionals in the U.S. participated. When asking survey participants to report their salary, those who live outside of the U.S. are asked to convert their earnings into United States dollars.

For the U.S. list specifically, certifications must have at least 50 survey responses to be considered and reported, unless disclosed otherwise. Those certifications featured in the "Just Missed the Cut" section had 49 responses each. As we compile this list, we consider relevance, demand, and certification requirements. Salaries are not normalized for cost of living or location. The top 10 U.S. states represented in this survey are as follows:

  1. California (15%)
  2. Texas (8%)
  3. New York (7%)
  4. Florida (6%)
  5. Illinois (4%)
  6. Virginia (4%)
  7. Ohio (3%)
  8. Washington (3%)
  9. Georgia (3%)
  10. Pennsylvania (3%)
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Managing Diversity: 3 Tips for Proactive Organizations https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/managing-diversity-3-tips-for-proactive-organizations Thu, 09 Nov 2023 19:33:00 -0500 alec.olson@skillsoft.com (Alec Olson) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/managing-diversity-3-tips-for-proactive-organizations

The unprecedented events of the last few years have disrupted our workplaces and fundamentally changed how we work. The pressure is even higher for today’s leaders and managers to equip themselves with tools and skills to manage diverse teams and organizations and set themselves – and the teams they lead – up for success.

When we think of diversity, we often think about representation in the workforce among people from different races, ethnicities, national origins, religions, abilities, and gender expressions. We should also consider other aspects of what makes our teams diverse such as age, formal educational experience, and socioeconomic backgrounds, to name just a few. Hybrid work, post-pandemic relocation, and teams made up of people across multiple generations require managers to be agile and responsive to make sure that everyone on their teams feels valued and included. They must foster a sense of belonging.

Here are some things to think about when looking at your teams and consider how you can create an environment where everyone has the opportunity to bring their “best selves” to work:

Invest in getting to know your team. A leader’s initial perception of who someone is probably differs from who they actually are. Everyone comes to work and participates within their teams, as an intersection of different personas and personalities. Employees also bring a variety of lived experiences with them that influence how they work, the lens through which they view activities and interactions, and how they communicate.

Investing the time to understand how people on your team “tick” is important to understand how to bring out the best in them. This is especially important in a hybrid work environment, where you might not work synchronously every day. But the richness of your team can only be uncovered by investing the effort in getting to know them as individuals, so you can be more responsive and supportive of their professional needs and personal challenges.

Do the ways in which we manage diversity change in a hybrid work environment? My colleague, Asha Palmer, SVP of Compliance Solutions at Skillsoft, recently chatted with Beth Egan, an executive coach, and Catherine Razzano, head of global legal compliance at TikTok, to get their thoughts.

Whileimplicit bias is a thing, it doesn’t have to be your thing. Our brains make shortcuts based on lived experiences and learned associations. Sometimes, these ideas elicit automatic and unintentional biases that impact how we treat others – both in positive and negative ways. It is critical to recognize that everyone has implicit bias and to take action to minimize the effect of those implicit biases on how we interact with and get to know our teams.

Maybe you have a positive bias of warm feelings toward someone who shares your alma mater, or a negative bias against someone who may not have a college degree or who worked for a particular company. Even more dangerous is the potential to make hiring decisions based on negative associations with specific names.

Slowing down, being deliberate, and focusing on the true individual – and not the false perception – will yield dividends for both you and your relationship with the people on your teams. Remember: learning about diversity is an ongoing endeavor. It doesn’t start and stop with bias training once per year. It happens every day, and it takes work.

Our team recently had the privilege of learning from Marlo Thomas Watson, a diversity coach, as part of our 15-minute webinar series, Coaching Corner. Watson talked about how your organization might use coaching to help individuals address unconscious bias in the workplace.

Understand that the world is changing, and not everyone is on board yet. Technology is constantly changing, and one of the best examples of that is ChatGPT and generative AI (GenAI). There are so many possibilities for the technology. Yet, there are many concerns as well.

Check out some of Skillsoft’s recent writing on the topic:

Shortly after President Joe Biden signed a landmark Executive Order on Artificial Intelligence, I had the pleasure of listening to Dr. Joy Buolamwini, founder of the Algorithmic Justice League and best-selling author, discuss her thoughts about the implications for AI in everyday society during an interview. Dr. Buolamwini described the general reaction to AI as being caught between “fear and fascination,” and it’s highly likely that people on your team fall somewhere along that spectrum.

Lean into education to help your teams understand the benefits, limitations, and guardrails associated with implementing AI tools and technologies so that they feel like part of the process and that they have learning opportunities available to address their fears and explore their fascination.

Being a better leader and manager is an ongoing journey, and continuous education, introspection, and application are key to evolving your leadership and management style as the world of work evolves around us.

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Employees Love J.D. Irving, Limited’s DEI Training. Here's Why. https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/employees-love-j-d-irving-limiteds-dei-training-heres-why Thu, 02 Nov 2023 14:06:00 -0400 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/employees-love-j-d-irving-limiteds-dei-training-heres-why

Jessica Madia, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), used Skillsoft content to build a highly accessible — and wildly popular — DEI certificate program.

The business benefits of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts are well established. It's one of the top factors people consider when deciding whether to stay with their current company or move to a new employer. At the organizational level, businesses with the most mature DEI efforts gain market share faster and are more likely to beat their revenue projections, according to research from TechTarget's Enterprise Strategy Group.

But getting a DEI program off the ground is no small feat. Even when organizations make it a priority, it can be hard to get results. The TechTarget research mentioned above found that, although 89 percent of surveyed organizations were actively implementing DEI strategies, only 13 percent had achieved DEI maturity.

According to TechTarget, one of the biggest obstacles to DEI maturity is a lack of widely accessible DEI education. Without regular, widely available training on subjects like understanding others' experiences and overcoming unconscious biases, the report says, a DEI program won't have a "truly transformational impact."

This is a fact that Jessica Madia, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at J.D. Irving, Limited (JDI), knows quite well.

"Accessibility is so important," Madia says. "We often see folks in DEI start with training leaders first, and they wait for it to trickle down as budget allows. But the biggest impact happens when you create foundational learning for everybody."

When Madia joined JDI in 2020, she set out to create just such a DEI training program. The result: a wildly popular DEI certificate program that has helped JDI earn the Employer Diversity Award from Atlantic Business Magazine for two years running.

And Madia did it all without having to request a bigger budget. Instead, she creatively used the resources JDI already had on hand.

Here's how she did it.

A DEI Certificate Program for Everyone

Madia had a clear goal for the DEI training program at JDI. She wanted to empower employees at all levels across the organization to make a difference and push DEI goals forward.

"What was really important for me was driving that baseline education on DEI," Madia explains. "I fundamentally believe that if everyone in our business took part in the program, it would raise the level of awareness. People would truly understand the importance of DEI, and that would lead to meaningful action."

JDI was already using Skillsoft's content library and AI-powered learning platform, Percipio, for other training initiatives. When a colleague told Madia that Skillsoft had DEI courses available, she decided to check them out.

While Madia was skeptical that off-the-shelf DEI training would have the effect she wanted, she was pleasantly surprised to find that Skillsoft's content differed from what she had expected.

"Once I audited the courses, I thought it was fantastic," Madia says. "What makes all the difference are those roundtable discussions where you get to be a fly on the wall as people share their lived experiences. You're not just logging in to have somebody talk at you. You get to listen and understand their perspectives."

Madia's next move was to make this content more accessible and approachable to employees, so she curated five of the most relevant courses into a custom DEI channel in Percipio. Madia also built promotions directly into employees' Percipio homepages so everyone would know exactly how to find the DEI channel.

"We make it so that, when people log into Skillsoft, the first thing they see is a banner that says, go to our DEI channel," Madia explains. "And when we add additional courses, we add another flag that says new courses available. We want it to be really easy to get to."

To motivate learners to take the courses, Madia built in a reward: anyone who completed all five would receive a DEI certificate as proof of their accomplishment.

"It's something to be proud of," Madia says. "That really entices people."

It worked. Employees liked that they could earn a real credential to certify their new knowledge, and teams began celebrating their certificate earners in special ceremonies.

"When we had our first full team do the program, we put together a company-wide campaign to celebrate them as the first team to be certified as a group," Madia says. "Other teams started their own traditions too, like turning it into an event where the manager hands out certificates publicly."

The Program's Results

JDI's DEI certificate program has now expanded to include seven courses. To date, more than 1,200 employees have engaged with the material for a total of 4,400 course completions, and 500 of those employees have earned their DEI certificates.

The DEI courses are among the top Skillsoft courses completed by JDI employees, and feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Individual business units in JDI have fully embraced the program, with some building it into their development goals.

“There are a lot of different ways folks are interacting with the content,” Madia explains. “Business units have taken it in their own directions and put their own spin on things. Some have made it an objective for all their leaders to complete the program by the end of the year. Some business units are doing the program together as a lunch and learn series."

In one division, the general manager has a conversation with every employee who earns the certificate. They discuss the importance of allyship and strategize ways to put what the employee has learned into practice.

The courses have also piqued employees' interest in other learning opportunities, and many seek out additional Skillsoft content after completing the DEI program. This increased engagement makes it easier for Madia to identify candidates for further DEI training.

"It builds a population that is really interested and engaged on this subject," Madia says. "When new learning opportunities come my way, I know who to connect to them."

What Made JDI's DEI Certificate Program Such a Success?

While every organization is unique and DEI training programs are not a one-size-fits-all matter, there are some tips DEI leaders can pick up from Madia. Three factors, in particular, contributed to the success of JDI's program:

1. Accessibility and Engagement

Madia made it easy for people to find and participate in the DEI channel by delivering the content through a platform that employees already used for other training. Madia also promoted all the different ways to take the courses — via desktop, laptop, or mobile device — so that learners could consume content in the ways that work best for them.

"It was a great opportunity to create some foundational awareness across our business by leveraging a tool that everybody had access to, which was really important," Madia says.

Offering certificates to employees who completed the program provided extra motivation and boosted engagement by giving learners a tangible reward for their efforts.

2. Great Content

Skillsoft's DEI content is grounded in real stories from real people rather than abstract hypotheticals or long, dull lectures. Participants can see how the course content relates to the real world, making it easier to retain — and apply — the lessons they learn.

"It gives people the opportunity to hear about the lived experiences of people they may not have in their own personal networks," Madia says. "And, regardless of where you're at on your DEI journey, everybody is walking away with at least one thing they can do differently."

3. Leveraging Existing Resources

Even when DEI is a priority for organizations, it can be difficult to dedicate more resources to DEI training efforts — especially in uncertain economic times. But Madia didn't need any extra resources. Instead, she found a way to deploy resources the organization already had. This made it much easier for Madia to win buy-in and support from leaders across JDI.

"Any time a business leader is asked to leverage an existing resource to improve the overall effectiveness of a program and raise education on an important topic, that's going to be an easy yes," Madia says. "I was not asking for anything. I was not creating anything labor-intensive for anyone."

Going Forward

Madia plans to keep growing program engagement and enabling more learners to earn DEI certificates. Her goal for 2023 was to double the number of certifications awarded, and she reached it in July.

Madia also hopes to expand DEI efforts further by creating employee resource groups so people inside JDI can start holding their own listening sessions similar to those presented in Skillsoft's courses.

"I think the DEI certificate program is a really nice gateway to employee resource groups," Madia says. "So we're going to leverage what we've learned to make that a reality."

Learn how Skillsoft can help your organization build a DEI program for the modern workforce.

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Why the Federal Government Needs Artificial Intelligence Training Right Now https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/why-the-federal-government-needs-artificial-intelligence-training-right-now Thu, 02 Nov 2023 13:47:00 -0400 alec.olson@skillsoft.com (Alec Olson) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/why-the-federal-government-needs-artificial-intelligence-training-right-now

President Biden announced Monday, October 30, an Executive Order that underscores the need for further training on artificial intelligence (AI).

In an effort to position the United States as a leader in the safe and effective use of AI, the Executive Order seeks to harness the potential of artificial intelligence while mitigating risks by establishing standards for AI security, requiring privacy protection, promoting civil rights, as well as worker and consumer protections, and fostering innovation.

Importantly, the Executive Order underscores the necessity for responsible government use of AI and the need to modernize federal AI infrastructure – a topic that has been top-of-mind since the sudden and sustained popularity, and now ubiquity, of artificial intelligence.

Here’s what the Executive Order said about government responsibility:

To ensure the responsible government deployment of AI and modernize federal AI infrastructure, the President directs the following actions:

  • Issue guidance for agencies’ use of AI, including clear standards to protect rights and safety, improve AI procurement, and strengthen AI deployment.  
  • Help agencies acquire specified AI products and services faster, more cheaply, and more effectively through more rapid and efficient contracting.
  • Accelerate the rapid hiring of AI professionals as part of a government-wide AI talent surge led by the Office of Personnel Management, U.S. Digital Service, U.S. Digital Corps, and Presidential Innovation Fellowship. Agencies will provide AI training for employees at all levels in relevant fields.

Finally, the Executive Order emphasizes the importance of not only promoting transparency in the development of AI applications, but also putting protections in place so individuals can use the technology effectively and ethically.

Here are five things to consider before onboarding GenAI in your organization.

A CRITICAL SKILLS GAP IN ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE DEMANDS ACTION

Findings from Skillsoft’s annual IT Skills and Salary Report show hiring professionals with artificial intelligence skills is more difficult than any other area of tech. Further, skills gaps in this discipline are among the most acute.

AI requires a diverse range of skills and expertise. For instance, developing an AI system requires knowledge of computer programming, data science, machine learning, and statistics, among other things. It can be a challenge to find professionals who possess all these skills. At the same time, new developments and innovations in AI are happening at a rapid pace, which means that AI professionals need to keep up with the latest trends and technologies in the field.

Did you know that Skillsoft offers courses on ChatGPT that can help your team learn the abilities and limitations of AI?

Another challenge contributing to the skills gap is the scarcity of AI training programs and courses. While many universities and online platforms offer AI courses, the demand for these programs is far outstripping the supply. And many organizations are hesitant to invest in training their employees in AI – because they don’t have an AI policy in place or are finding it difficult to adapt to the rapid changes.

And according to a new report presented by FEDSCOOP, federal employees may be left in limbo:

  • A majority (84%) of federal government decision-makers surveyed indicated that their agency leadership considers “understanding the impact of generative AI” as a critical or important priority for agency operations.
  • Yet, 49% cited “lack of employee training to use generative AI responsibly” as a top risk within their agency.
  • Despite that, 71% of survey respondents believe that the potential advantages of employing generative AI in their agency’s operations outweigh the perceived risks.

And it’s true – IT teams are increasingly using GenAI to make their lives easier. So, the question becomes: How do we help our federal workforce realize the benefits of generative AI with training?

FEDERAL EMPLOYEES NEED CLEAR GUIDELINES AND TRAINING AROUND AI

Two of three respondents to the FEDSCOOP survey say their agency has issued preliminary guidance on AI use. And that’s in line with what the Skillsoft team has seen across industries. If you have not provided AI training to your employees, you are lagging.

But it can be difficult to get access to the resources you need. During a recent panel on “demystifying AI,” Anil Chaudry, associate administrator in the Department of Transportation’s Office of Planning and Analytics, mentioned that he spends “less time working on a $200 million contract” than trying to get approvals for his staffers to take “a $1,500 training course.”

The good news is that many federal agencies already have access to Skillsoft courses today. All it would take is setting up the appropriate guidelines to create an enriching and custom curriculum. In fact, you probably have more experience setting up an AI training program than you think.

A good rule of thumb is to follow the same risk assessment process that you’ve likely instated as part of your current compliance training program. Here’s one way you can start:

  • Define your objectives. What are you trying to achieve with your agency’s AI training? This could include improving employees’ skills, creating specific guidelines for safe and effective use at work, or something else.
  • Identify key stakeholders. Who needs to be involved in this process?
  • Identify the risks your organization faces. With respect to AI, risks might include data privacy and security, bias and fairness, legal and regulatory compliance, scalability, or ethical concerns.
  • Assess and prioritize these risks. Consider the likelihood and severity of each risk, including which has the most impact on your employees and your agency. For example, are you focused on protecting critical information? Avoiding bias and hallucination? Limiting employee usage?
  • Establish your risk tolerance. Some risks may be acceptable to you, while others may not. Risk tolerance varies by agency, but it plays a significant role in decision-making and resource allocation.
  • Develop an action plan. Outline the steps your organization needs to take to address the risks that are most important to you. Assign responsibilities and deadlines for risk mitigation.
  • Communication and training. Ensure that all relevant stakeholders are aware of the risks and the measures you have put in place to address them.
  • Continuous improvement. After you’ve created your own governance structure around AI based on your agency’s priorities, you can analyze and improve your guidelines based on any emerging guidance.

HOW TO CLOSE THE AI SKILLS GAP IN THE U.S. GOVERNMENT

Bottom line? There are currently more than 700 AI use cases across federal agencies, according to a database maintained by AI.gov. And while the data does not provide a complete picture, it is heartening that governmental organizations are diving into artificial intelligence.

Again according to the “Gauging the Impact of Generative AI on Government” report:

  • More than half of all respondents (51%) said their agency is planning to assess the potential positive or negative impact within the next 12 months.
  • When asked where they see generative presenting the greatest opportunities for employees, 65% of all respondents said it was the ability to give employees added technical support, followed by the ability to reduce the time required to complete work processes (64%).

Skillsoft provides a wide range of online training courses and journeys that cover different aspects of AI, such as machine learning, natural language processing, and robotics. And as a company, we serve more than 100 federal agencies and all branches of the military. So, chances are, your organization might be able to leverage our AI training materials today to support your reskilling and upskilling efforts.

Skillsoft’s library can be tailored to meet the specific needs of federal government employees and can be delivered via our learning platform, Percipio, which provides a flexible and accessible way for employees to learn at their own pace.

Additionally, we offer Instructor-Led Training (ILT) courses, wherein our subject matter experts deliver authorized and industry-leading content through multiple delivery formats — classroom, virtual classroom, and on-demand. Our experience and expertise enable us to develop truly effective learning paths that boost skill profiles while improving performance.

Furthermore, we can work with federal government agencies to develop custom training programs that are aligned with their specific goals and objectives related to AI. This could include creating targeted training for specific job roles or departments, as well as providing ongoing support and resources to ensure that employees are able to apply their newly acquired skills and knowledge to their work.

And finally, Skillsoft can offer training on ethical use of GenAI so that federal agencies stay in compliance with existing regulations. Our expertise in AI training and education can be a valuable asset to the federal government as it seeks to upskill its workforce and stay ahead of technological advancements in this field.

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Invisible Influence: Addressing Unconscious Bias with Coaching https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/invisible-influence-addressing-unconscious-bias-with-coaching Mon, 30 Oct 2023 08:44:00 -0400 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/invisible-influence-addressing-unconscious-bias-with-coaching

In a world that's beautifully diverse and intricately woven together, bias can often act as a blindfold, obscuring our ability to truly see and appreciate everything around us. Unconscious bias, subtle yet potent, has a sneaky way of creeping into our perceptions and actions, often without us even realizing it.

Unconscious stereotypes or attitudes about certain groups of people that can affect our behavior towards them can deeply impact workplace culture. Most people are unaware of their implicit biases and how these may impact their decision-making process, especially in the workplace. They can, unfortunately, lead to discrimination, lack of diversity, unequal opportunities, and a toxic work environment. So, it's vital to recognize your unconscious biases and the different ways they impact those around you.

How Unconscious Bias Infiltrates the Workplace

Unconscious bias in the workplace is a pervasive issue that can manifest in various ways, often subtly influencing decisions and interactions without conscious awareness. These biases, based on stereotypes and attitudes towards certain groups, can negatively impact hiring, promotion, performance evaluation, and team dynamics.

  • Talent Recruitment Unconscious bias can often present itself during the recruitment process. For instance, a hiring manager might unconsciously favor candidates who graduated from their alma mater or who share similar backgrounds, inadvertently creating an uneven playing field. Harvard Business School emphasizes that unconscious bias and affinity bias often express themselves as a preference for one candidate or another because of culture fit. This bias can often limit diversity and inclusion within the organization.

  • Gender Stereotypes Despite strides made towards equality, unconscious assumptions about gender roles persist. For example, women are often stereotyped as nurturing and less assertive, which can lead to them being overlooked for leadership roles. On the other hand, men may face bias when seeking roles traditionally dominated by women or when requesting parental leave. Learn more about how women face bias in the workplace.
  • Racial Bias Racial bias is yet another form of implicit bias that can occur in the workplace. Employees of certain racial or ethnic groups may be unfairly evaluated or treated differently due to preconceived notions about their abilities or work ethics. This can result in a lack of opportunities for career advancement for these individuals. Read more on racial bias in the workplace.

Working to counter your unconscious biases is something that, although it takes an effort, will help build better relationships and contribute to a psychologically safe work environment for everyone.

Understanding Your Disposition to Difference

Your personal disposition towards difference is crucial in the workplace as it directly influences how you perceive, react to, and value the unique perspectives that a diverse team brings.

Foster a workplace culture that values diversity and inclusion. Encourage diverse viewpoints in team discussions and decision-making processes. Create opportunities for individuals from different backgrounds to lead projects or initiatives. Promoting diversity and inclusion will not only reduce bias but also foster innovation and creativity.

By recognizing and appreciating differences, individuals can contribute to a positive organizational culture that promotes innovation and productivity. Thus, understanding one's disposition to difference is not just important, but essential for workplace harmony and success.

Begin to Understand Your Intrinsic Motivations

Understanding and combating implicit biases in the workplace is a critical aspect of fostering an inclusive and productive environment. Self-awareness plays a pivotal role in this process. Why? Because only when we recognize our own subconscious biases, can we begin to challenge and change them.

Harvard Business Review research shows that individuals with high self-awareness are more likely to acknowledge their biases, leading to more equitable decision-making. By becoming more self-aware, employees not only become better equipped to confront their own biases but also contribute more effectively to their teams and the overall organization.

In essence, self-awareness is not just about knowing ourselves better; it's about understanding how our actions and attitudes impact those around us. So, are you ready to take the first step towards a bias-free workplace? Remember, change begins with awareness.

Continuous Learning, Continuous Empathy: Your Armor Against Bias

Actively educate yourself about different cultures, backgrounds, and experiences. This can be done through reading, attending workshops or seminars, or engaging in conversations with diverse groups of people. By broadening your perspective, you can challenge and change your preconceived notions. Remember, learning about diversity and inclusion is an ongoing process, not a one-time event.

Empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, is a powerful tool against bias. Try to see situations from others' perspectives. Active listening involves fully focusing on, understanding, and responding to your colleagues, which can help break down barriers and assumptions.

How Coaching Can Help

Coaching can be instrumental in fostering understanding and acceptance of individuals from different backgrounds. According to a study by Boston Consulting Group, companies with above-average diversity on their management teams reported innovation revenue that was 19 percentage points higher than that of companies with below-average leadership diversity. This demonstrates that fostering diversity can lead to greater innovation.

In addition, DEI coaching helps individuals uncover and combat their unconscious biases, which according to a report by Deloitte, are significant barriers to diversity and inclusivity in the workplace. By promoting self-awareness and empathy, DEI coaching helps create a more inclusive work environment.

Furthermore, a McKinsey report found that companies with the most ethnically/culturally diverse boards worldwide are 43% more likely to experience higher profits. This suggests that a diverse and inclusive workplace is not just socially responsible, but it also has a direct impact on a company's bottom line. Thus, DEI coaching is not only crucial for personal growth and understanding but also contributes significantly to the overall success of an organization.

By integrating these strategies, you’ll aid individuals in recognizing, confronting, and overcoming their implicit biases which not only contributes to personal growth but also promotes a more inclusive and equitable workplace environment.

Want to hear more about my experience as a DEI coach? Watch my episode of the Coaching Corner

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How to Engage Remote Employees: 6 Ways to Get Virtual Teams Excited About Work https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/how-to-engage-remote-employees-6-ways-to-get-virtual-teams-excited-about-work Mon, 30 Oct 2023 06:40:00 -0400 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/how-to-engage-remote-employees-6-ways-to-get-virtual-teams-excited-about-work

Team leaders can better engage remote employees by creating a culture of communication, offering learning opportunities, and applying a few other best practices.

What Is Remote Employee Engagement?

Employee engagement is an employee’s level of investment in and enthusiasm for their job. Remote employee engagement specifically refers to the investment and enthusiasm of those who work from home or some other location outside a central office.

Engagement is more than just motivation, although engaged employees are often more motivated. Motivation is the drive to do something. Engagement is bigger and broader. It’s the sense of meaningful commitment a person feels toward their work; it’s the emotional fulfillment they receive from a job well done.

When employees are engaged, businesses benefit. According to Gallup, the most engaged teams are 23 percent more profitable and 18 percent more productive than their least engaged counterparts. They also experience 81 percent less absenteeism and 64 percent fewer safety incidents.

Remote work has its benefits, too. It’s a top factor in attracting and retaining talent, and remote workers are often more productive than employees who are in the office full-time.

Theoretically, then, engaged remote employees could be some of the highest-performing workers around.

However, engaging employees is notoriously tricky. The latest numbers show that only 23 percent of workers worldwide are engaged. And engaging remote employees can be especially challenging.

Yet those organizations that figure out how to engage remote employees stand to reap significant rewards. Let’s explore what makes remote employee engagement difficult — and what leaders can do about it.

Why Engaging Remote Employees Can Be Tough

Remote work has an interesting, almost contradictory, effect on employee engagement. According to Gallup, employees enjoy the biggest engagement boost from remote work when they’re virtual for 3-4 days per week. But if employees work remotely five days a week, engagement can start to slip.

One possible reason for this: isolation. Remote work grants employees a certain amount of freedom, which can help explain the engagement bump. But, too much independence may backfire, undermining the sense of belonging that is key in promoting engagement.

The real question, then, isn’t how to engage remote employees. It’s how to keep remote employees engaged — how to prevent autonomy from curdling into loneliness.

6 Ways to Engage Remote Employees

Leaders and managers have tremendous power when it comes to employee engagement. In fact, individual managers account for as much as 70 percent of the difference in engagement levels between teams.

What can leaders and managers do to keep remote employees engaged? They can try the following best practices:

  1. Set clear expectations for remote workers
  2. Build a culture of communication
  3. Provide learning opportunities
  4. Recognize remote employees
  5. Use video chat for work and fun
  6. Ask employees what they need

Let’s take a look at each practice in depth.

1. Set clear expectations for remote workers

Lack of clarity around one’s role is a top driver of burnout and disengagement, and remote employees may struggle with this more than their in-office counterparts.

Working outside the office, remote employees often have fewer points of contact with their peers and leaders. As a result, remote employees are more likely to feel disconnected from their organization’s mission and purpose than their collocated peers. Moreover, it’s harder for remote employees to parse those unspoken cultural rules, like how people communicate or spend their break time.

Leaders of remote teams can’t expect their employees to pick all of this up on their own. Instead, they need to be direct and explicit about setting expectations. This includes both expectations for the employee’s role, such as timelines and deliverables, and for how that role fits into the company’s overall strategy. When employees know how they’re contributing to organizational goals, they’re often more engaged because they understand the true purpose of what they’re doing.

Leaders also need to model behavioral norms. This is especially true when it comes to things like typical working hours and quitting times. It can be hard for home-based workers to fully disconnect, which is a risk factor for burnout. Leaders can set the tone for a healthy, engaging remote work environment by logging off every night and only sending work-related messages during work hours.

Finally, leaders should set remote work compliance expectations. Codes of ethics, data privacy regulations, and similar mandates don’t disappear when employees work outside the office.

2. Build a culture of communication

Autonomy is part of what makes remote work so desirable, but it can be a double-edged sword. As discussed earlier, too much autonomy can make employees feel isolated from their peers and disconnected from the organization.

By creating a culture of communication, organizations can support remote employee autonomy while fostering the connections that help drive engagement.

A culture of communication doesn’t mean micromanaging everything workers do or scheduling endless meetings. Rather, it means normalizing the idea that employees should keep one another — and their managers — updated on their work. There are multiple ways to do this. You might set up team-specific communication channels, like in Teams or Slack, or hold morning stand-ups where everyone briefly shares what they’re doing that day.

When people know what their colleagues are up to, they can collaborate more effectively. Importantly, they also feel like they’re part of a real team, not an atomized individual plugging away on a to-do list all alone.

As a leader, you can support a culture of communication by staying accessible yourself. Institute an open-door policy so people can come to you for help or a friendly chat whenever needed. Share updates on your own work and any insights you can offer into broader organizational happenings. If employees see you prioritizing open communication, they’ll follow suit.

3. Provide learning opportunities

Research has long supported the idea that learning opportunities can be an effective tool to promote employee engagement. In one survey, 71 percent of respondents said training increases their job satisfaction, and 61 percent said upskilling opportunities influence their decision to stay at a job.

Thanks to advances in digital learning, it’s easy to deliver robust learning experiences to remote employees.

Learning opportunities with a social component, like digital coaching or virtual instructor-led training, can be particularly potent options for engaging employees that work remotely. Not only do these learning opportunities help employees build valuable technical and leadership skills, but they may also alleviate some of the isolation remote workers can experience.

4. Use video chat for work and fun

People who have friends at work tend to be more productive and more satisfied with their jobs, but remote work can make it harder to socialize with coworkers. The common communication channels — instant messaging, email — don’t have the same personal warmth as the casual face-to-face chats one could have in the office.

And while popping by someone’s desk to say “hi” is generally a welcome diversion for everyone involved, it can feel downright weird to send someone a message on Teams simply to shoot the breeze.

Video chats can make interpersonal interactions between remote colleagues feel less awkward, which makes it easier to build the social connections that keep your remote employees engaged. Consider using video platforms whenever you can for meetings and encourage people to keep their cameras on.

To support socialization, leaders can try setting aside time at the start or end of each meeting for personal chats, creating video conference rooms where people can eat lunch together, and hosting trivia contests or other purely social activities over video.

5. Recognize employee accomplishments

According to one study, employees who feel recognized by their managers are 40 percent more engaged than employees who don’t. However, it can be easy to miss opportunities to recognize employees when you’re not in the same place.

And when we do recognize remote employees, it can be underwhelming. A “nice job” Slack message doesn’t feel as fulfilling as a handshake from the boss in front of the whole team.

But remote recognition can still be impactful — it just requires a bit more intention. Managers should be vigilant when looking for opportunities to praise team members, and recognition should happen in public channels or video calls for maximum effect. Tangible rewards, like monetary bonuses or points that can be redeemed for prizes, can also make remote recognition more motivating.

Encourage employees to recognize each other, too. Peer-to-peer recognition can be almost as powerful as manager recognition.

6. Ask employees what they need

Finally, if you’re not sure how to motivate remote employees, just ask them!

Different people need different things to feel engaged at work. Some team members may want more socializing on video chats, while others may wish for more learning opportunities. Some may need the occasional pep talk.

Instead of trying to guess how to engage employees in a remote environment, set aside time to ask during regular check-ins. In addition to discussing work, ask how your team members feel and what you can do to support them.

As a bonus, inviting employees to share their input helps them feel recognized and contributes to the culture of communication. In other words, asking for employee feedback can offer an engagement boost all on its own.

The Key to Engaging Your Remote Employees? Intention.

Readers have probably noticed a not-so-subtle theme developing throughout the best practices listed above. The secret for how to motivate remote employees is to be intentional about it.

In the office, when everyone works together in close quarters, things like social connection, communication, and recognition often happen organically. In remote environments, however, these crucial components of employee engagement can slip through the cracks.

By intentionally translating these things to virtual environments, leaders of remote teams can keep their people as engaged and energized as their colleagues in the office — if not more so.

To help employees thrive in remote work arrangements, check out these remote working courses from Skillsoft. All workers, remote or otherwise, are more engaged when they have the tools and knowledge they need to succeed in their roles.

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How Cybersecurity Experts Can Use AI to Fight AI-Powered Cyberattacks https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/how-cybersecurity-experts-can-use-ai-to-fight-ai-powered-cyberattacks Mon, 23 Oct 2023 14:51:00 -0400 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/how-cybersecurity-experts-can-use-ai-to-fight-ai-powered-cyberattacks

Generative AI could help security teams fend off hackers by turbocharging security controls and speeding up incident response.

Generative AI, proponents say, will make us all more productive. That certainly seems to be the case across many different use cases — including cybersecurity.

As we covered in a previous article, Unprecedented Escalation: How GenAI is Changing Cybersecurity AI tools have lowered the bar for entry into cybercrime, threatening to unleash a deluge of new cyberattacks. Even people with no technical savvy can launch shockingly effective phishing scams and build new malware strains with generative AI's help.

For their part, cybersecurity pros are fighting fire with fire. That is, they're using their own AI tools to defend their networks against AI-enabled adversaries.

Let's look at how cybersecurity pros can leverage AI for good.

AI Reinforces Traditional Security Controls

Many of the controls cybersecurity experts use, like firewalls and anti-virus software, rely on signature-based methods to detect cyberattacks. These tools maintain databases of signatures, telltale signs associated with certain attacks — like a piece of code known to appear in a specific type of ransomware. Signature-based controls compare network activity to their databases, raising alerts and taking action whenever they spot a signature.

The downside of signature-based detection is that it can't catch any new cyberattacks whose signatures have yet to be recorded. Now that hackers can use generative AI to create new malware strains with relatively easily, the number of never-before-seen attacks may increase significantly, and signature-based defenses may struggle to keep up.

Cybersecurity vendors have already taken steps to address this problem by introducing anomaly-based threat detection methods. Anomaly-based tools use AI and machine learning to build models of normal network traffic. Then, they compare network activity to this normal baseline. Anything that doesn't fit the model — in other words, any anomaly — is flagged.

It's worth noting that, historically, anomaly-based threat detection tools have been prone to false positives. However, as AI grows more sophisticated, these tools are getting better at distinguishing between actual attacks and new behavior from authorized users.

While anomaly-based controls will likely always require some human oversight, this AI-powered threat detection method can help prevent even AI-generated attacks. Hackers can no longer count on novelty alone to sneak into a network.

AI Streamlines Incident Response

AI doesn't just help security analysts prevent cyberattacks — it helps them respond, too. Streamlining incident response may be AI's single biggest benefit for cybersecurity teams right now.

In most enterprise environments, when security controls flag a possible threat, they alert the security operations center (SOC). A SOC analyst then has to determine whether the threat is real, how serious it is, and what to do about it. To triage and investigate alerts, analysts have to pull data from various disparate internal and external sources, collate it all, and analyze it.

This process takes time. Highly complex or well-camouflaged threats could require hours of investigation. Even if analysts only need 10 or 15 minutes, in that timeframe, hackers can steal sensitive data and install malware to persist in the environment and further the attack. Cybercriminals can use AI to launch more attacks with less effort, so incident responders can't afford to spend more time investigating threats than they have to.

Here is where AI tools can help again. AI can automate the most time-consuming parts of incident investigations — i.e., collecting and collating relevant data from security controls, network analytics, and even external threat intelligence sources.

Some generative AI tools can even analyze the data and cut out much of the prep work by highlighting key points, prioritizing alerts, and suggesting possible responses. That way, security analysts can focus on higher-value tasks like intercepting and eradicating threats without sacrificing accurate, thorough investigations.

AI Is Efficient At Online Searching, When Used Correctly

Cybersecurity professionals need to know a lot to do their jobs. They must be deeply familiar with their company's tech stack, the latest cybersecurity tools, and best practices to face the ever-evolving cyberthreat landscape.

That's a lot of information to retain. For perspective, consider that 1500+ new security vulnerabilities are discovered every month on average. No one could reasonably track every single one of those.

That's why many security analysts spend a decent amount of time on search engines, researching new things or brushing up on old concepts. While search engines can yield the information they need, cybersecurity pros must sift through the results to find the most relevant sources.

Generative AI tools can help cybersecurity pros find answers a lot faster. Instead of simply listing sources, generative AI can distill it down to the key takeaways. With the correct prompts, security analysts can spend less time scrolling websites and more time acting on what they learn.

The potential of GenAI in this context is not just theoretical. A study by McKinsey indicates that GenAI can significantly enhance productivity and efficiency across various industries. In fact, they found that in two-thirds of the industry opportunities they evaluated, the application of GenAI can lead to notable improvements1. This underscores the transformative potential of GenAI tools, not only for cybersecurity professionals but across diverse sectors.

That said, cybersecurity pros need to be cautious. Generative AI has been known to hallucinate — essentially, make things up. Applying a sniff test to generative AI outputs is important before trusting them fully. Make sure the AI's insights square with prior knowledge and experiences. When in doubt, ask for sources so you can see for yourself where the AI is getting its information.

Analysts must also be judicious about the information they share with AI tools, especially if they use publicly available solutions like ChatGPT. Organizations can't control how these AI models might use proprietary company data, and there have been cases of some users' data being leaked to others. Organizations should consider creating their own proprietary generative AI tools or using ones designed by trusted vendors specifically for corporate use.

3 Tips on Using AI to Fight AI

1. Implement a Formal AI Policy and Training

Whether or not your organization has officially adopted generative AI, your cybersecurity analysts are probably using it, and more concerningly, the rest of your employees are, too. In order to ensure employees use GenAI properly, it's best to draft formal generative AI policies.

These policies should cover approved AI tools, situations in which employees can use AI and guidelines for how to use AI most effectively. The policy should also explicitly outline the types of company data that can and can't be shared with AI tools.

Train security analysts on generative AI so that they fully understand how these tools work and how they can use AI to fight cyberthreats. The more familiar analysts are with generative AI, the more skillfully they'll deploy it to defend the organization.

2. Emphasize the Human Touch

Generative AI is highly impressive but far from perfect. Security analysts can't simply follow its orders to use AI effectively and avoid its pitfalls. Instead, the analyst's role is to act as the AI's supervisor: issuing directions, evaluating outputs, and bringing their expertise to bear when the situation calls for it.

Analysts should feel confident to tweak or entirely disregard an AI's suggestions. Ultimately, generative AI works best as a productivity-enhancing tool, not a people-replacing tool.

3. Don't Neglect Traditional Controls

AI is a powerful tool in the fight against hackers today, but the old weapons still need to be updated. Some of the most basic security controls can offer strong defenses against AI-enabled adversaries.

For example, multifactor authentication (MFA) can keep hackers out of users' accounts. Even if cybercriminals use sophisticated phishing schemes to steal user credentials, they won't be able to get in if a second (or third) authentication factor is in use.

Similarly, a consistent patch management practice ensures systems are up to date and protected against the most pervasive malware, including AI-generated strains.

These speedbumps are often enough to dissuade would-be attackers, especially the newbies who have just gotten into the cybercrime game through AI.

Bracing for the Future

As AI advances, attackers and defenders will keep ramping up their usage of these tools. In the face of AI-enabled cyberthreats, the cybersecurity community must continue investing in and leveraging its own AI-powered defenses.

To fully harness the potential of AI in cybersecurity, organizations must weave AI into their formal processes and policies. Furthermore, security teams need access to ongoing training to stay on top of the latest developments in AI technology.

In the age of AI, cybersecurity pros who fail to adapt will be outflanked by hackers and their peers who embrace AI.

Learn how Skillsoft can help cybersecurity pros sharpen their AI skills and defend their networks from escalating cyberattacks.

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Raise Your Coaching Currency: How To Build A Culture Of Coachability In Any Industry https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/raise-your-coaching-currency-how-to-build-a-culture-of-coachability-in-any-industry Fri, 20 Oct 2023 11:48:00 -0400 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/raise-your-coaching-currency-how-to-build-a-culture-of-coachability-in-any-industry

Coaching in the workplace is a concept that is derived from the world of sports.

As Superbowl-winning NFL quarterback Patrick Mahomes said of his Kansas City Chiefs coach, Andy Reid, “Coach Reid is a great teacher. He understands how people learn, understands how to get people to get the concept of what the play is and why we’re running it.”

Mahomes knows he needs Reid to move the ball forward, and that same perspective can be applied to the business world.

The openness to being coached is a life skill that translates to every industry imaginable.

To remain competitive and improve, it’s essential for a company to cultivate a culture that embraces coaching and ongoing learning. This can propel the organization forward and facilitate individual and team growth. As the idea of coaching continues to transform workplaces, creating a culture of Coachability is critical for sustaining coaching impact within companies.

What Is Coachability?

At its core, coachability refers to an individual's ability and willingness to absorb feedback, learn, and adapt their behavior or skills in response.

It indicates an open mindset, receptiveness to constructive criticism, and a strong desire for personal growth and improvement.

Promoting a culture of coachability within a workforce leads to many benefits, including:

  • Increased productivity
  • Better problem-solving abilities
  • More transparent communication
  • Greater innovation and adaptability

The Coachability Spectrum

Like so many things in life, coachability is not a binary trait. Rather, it exists along a spectrum with people who range anywhere from low coachability to high coachability.

High coachability individuals tend to be flexible, resilient, and eager to embrace new concepts or techniques, making them valuable assets in any team or organization. Whereas those with low coachability tend to be more resistant to change, avoid taking responsibility and often avoid any type of change. They are the ideal employees to have on your team.

How can you build a culture of coachability?

The first step to building a culture of coachability is to identify where your employees are on this spectrum. I’ve outlined some characteristics along the spectrum below.

Low coachability traits

  • Resistant to feedback
  • Lack of openness to learning
  • Avoid taking responsibility
  • Blame others for circumstances
  • Avoid change

Average coachability traits

  • Agreeable (which does not necessarily translate to coachability)
  • Lack of follow-through
  • Can be passive aggressive

High coachability traits

  • Prepared
  • Incorporate feedback
  • Self-reflect
  • Admit failure
  • Look for opportunities to learn from peers, colleagues, managers, etc.

The next obvious question is: CAN EMPLOYEES MOVE ON THE COACHABILITY SCALE?

The good news? Coachability is not set in stone; it can be cultivated and developed. This leads us to explore the concept of a growth-mindset versus fixed mindset.

Coachability goes hand-in-hand with embracing a growth mindset. Having a growth mindset means one believes their own talents can be developed through hard work, good strategies, and input from others. In other words: everything can be taught.

A fixed mindset is a belief that “I’m either good at something or I’m not.”

Growth mindset thinking not only plays a pivotal role in personal and professional development, but it can also determine one’s acceptance of coaching.

Employees can reshape their mindset and approach to learning and skill development, but it takes the help of their organization. By providing a program that delivers quality coaching at scale, employers can play a crucial role in creating an environment that nurtures and supports growth.

Coaching programs, for instance:

  • Assess individuals’ opportunities for personal growth
  • Build a customized professional development plan
  • Help employees work one-on-one with a leadership coach
  • Reinforce concepts through content
  • Measure performance

How Can Employees Move up the Coachability Spectrum With the Help of a Coach?

To move employees up the coachability spectrum, it’s important to understand the reasons behind their current position. A coach can conduct a root cause analysis to identify any barriers to coachability and develop targeted strategies to address them.

Some employees may have misconceptions or negative associations with coaching. According to Forbes, common misconceptions about coaching include: “coaching is something you do to others” or “coaching is getting people to do what a leader wants them to do, without them knowing it.” Through education and clear communication, employees can understand the true purpose of coaching, dispelling any misconceptions and creating a positive attitude towards the process.

Establishing clear, compelling goals also helps raise the coaching currency at work. Coaches can make and prioritize goals, and make them passionate, personal, and inspiring so they resonate and aren’t just compliance-driven. Engaging employees with meaningful objectives fuels their motivation to embrace coaching and a growth mindset.

One thing not to ignore when it comes to moving the coachability needle? Employee workload stress and burnout. According to PAYCHEX, “the consequences of burnout may include increased employee absence, lower productivity, and higher turnover, all of which can affect a company's bottom line.” Coaches can help employees manage their workload, set boundaries, and promote self-care to enhance their coachability.

A crucial way to move the needle of coachability is to foster trust and engagement. According to Great Place to Work, trust is built on credibility, respect, and fairness. Coaches should focus on creating a safe and supportive environment where employees feel comfortable exploring their growth opportunities.

Finally, don’t forget to address psychological wounds with employees. Trauma and unhealed psychological wounds can be significant obstacles to coachability. Coaches may recommend therapy or counseling as a necessary step before embarking on the journey of growth through coaching.

The Coaching Evolution

Building a culture of coachability is a transformative journey that requires commitment and collaboration. By understanding the coachability spectrum and employing the right strategies, organizations can empower employees to embrace a growth mindset, thereby driving personal and organizational success.

Calibrating individuals on the coachability scale, assessing trust levels, and asking insightful questions help identify barriers to coachability. Remember, the approach to cultivating coachability should be more relational than transactional, emphasizing openness and kindness.

By embracing a culture of coachability, organizations can unleash the full potential of their workforce, foster innovation, and thrive in today's competitive landscape.

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Unprecedented escalation: How GenAI is changing cybersecurity https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/unprecedented-escalation-how-genai-is-changing-cybersecurity Thu, 12 Oct 2023 13:51:00 -0400 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/unprecedented-escalation-how-genai-is-changing-cybersecurity

AI can make everyone more productive — including hackers. Here's how cybersecurity professionals are adapting.

Phishing attacks are a numbers game. Scammers know most of their messages will go unread, caught in anti-phishing and spam filters, or correctly identified as malicious by their recipients. A small percentage of recipients will open a phishing email. An even smaller number will click its links or open its attachments.

So, phishers go big. If they email 100,000 people, and only 1% of those targets click a malicious link, that's still 1,000 victims potentially getting their data stolen or falling for other scams.

Scammers are always looking for new tools to help them scale up to hit more people with less effort. Imagine how many passwords a cybercriminal could net if they emailed a million targets — a billion, even.

Unfortunately, generative AI tools — the same ones many use to ramp up productivity in legitimate pursuits — could make these massive phishing campaigns a reality.

As a result, cybersecurity pros are facing an unprecedented escalation of cyber threats. At the same time, generative AI tools are changing how cybersecurity teams do their jobs, often in positive ways.

Let's look at how the rise of generative AI is reshaping the cybersecurity landscape for better and worse.

Generative AI makes hacking easier than ever

Social engineering attacks are some of the most prevalent and most potent cyberattacks. According to a report by Verizon, 74% of data breaches use social engineering tactics in some way. These attacks can easily cost organizations millions of dollars.

Social engineering is common because it doesn't require much technical savvy. The hardest part is crafting a believable story. Attackers often pose as well-known brands, but many targets can spot fraudulent emails from a mile away, often riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes a major business wouldn’t likely make.

In the age of ChatGPT, however, sloppy writing is a less reliable red flag. Criminals can craft more convincing, even flawless messages by using AI, instead of writing them from scratch. AI tools also enable hackers to translate their phishing emails into new languages, opening up whole new populations for scamming.

And attackers aren't limited to text. Generative AI tools can create fake videos, images, and audio to back up their schemes. See, for example, the 2019 case of an energy company CEO who got a call from the leader of his parent firm. The leader asked the CEO to transfer $243,000 to a supplier in Hungary, and the CEO dutifully complied. However, the CEO wasn't actually talking to his boss — he was talking to scammers who had used AI-powered audio technology to impersonate his boss.

Now that AI tools are more widespread and easier to use, we can expect these kinds of deep fake attacks to ramp up.

AI also makes it easier for hackers to build new malware. Even cybercriminals with only a passing familiarity with programming can use plain text prompts to prod generative AIs into whipping up custom malware. Most generative AI tools in the legitimate market have safeguards to prevent unscrupulous actors from creating malicious code. Still, hackers are already devising ways around these barriers and sharing tips on the dark web. Furthermore, they’re designing their own generative AI tools to help cybercriminals craft more effective phishing emails.

All of this to say: An explosion of new malware strains and social engineering scams may be right around the corner. It may even be starting already. Keeping up with cyber threats was difficult enough in the pre-AI days. How can cybersecurity pros stay ahead of the hackers now?

Cybersecurity’s role in the AI Era

As hackers gleefully embrace AI, the mood in cybersecurity organizations is often lukewarm. Many cybersecurity pros wonder if their jobs are at risk, as many knowledge workers in other fields do. But, generative AI is unlikely to replace cybersecurity teams.

The more likely scenario is that generative AI will enable cybersecurity pros to scale up their defenses, helping them manage the influx of attacks. The human touch — specifically, critical thinking and expert judgment — is vital in cybersecurity, and AI can't quite compete today.

Consider incident response processes as an example. When anomalies are detected by security controls like intrusion prevention systems (IPS) or intrusion detection systems (IDS), thorough investigation becomes necessary. This involves gathering pertinent data from various network sources, incorporating external threat intelligence, and analyzing the information to understand the situation.

While AI can automate certain aspects of this process, such as data collection and collation, security analysts mustn't rely solely on AI for drawing conclusions and deciding how to proceed. It's important to note that AI can produce hallucinations, and also has the potential to generate false information.

Even when the AI isn’t making things up, it doesn’t have a human analyst’s knowledge of the network, technology stack or business environment, so its recommendations are likely to be on the generic side. Cybersecurity pros need to use their own expertise and judgment to formulate the most effective incident response plans for their unique environments.

One could set AI rules for responding to very basic attacks, but letting AI react to situations with any level of nuance is bound to disrupt benign business activities. Indeed, this is a known drawback of cybersecurity tools that use machine learning models to identify attacks. They're prone to false positives and liable to interpret any new network activity as suspicious. An authorized user accessing a sensitive database for the first time will likely be treated as a hacker by a purely AI-powered tool.

Cybersecurity experts must analyze alerts and intel alongside their AI tools to mark those subtle distinctions between legitimate activity and actual threats. This way, they can keep hackers out while ensuring that valid users can do their jobs without interruptions.

As AI tools grow more sophisticated, cybersecurity pros' roles will only grow more strategic. They'll focus on drafting effective cyber risk management strategies and building robust defense-in-depth security architectures. In the trenches, they can leverage AI tools to detect, investigate, and respond to potential attacks faster.

That right there is the silver lining in all of this. Just as hackers can use generative AI to launch bigger and bolder attacks, cybersecurity pros can use the same tools to fight back efficiently. A single scammer may be able to fire off hundreds of custom malware strains, but now, a single cybersecurity pro can catch and disarm many of them, too.

Cybersecurity training must evolve

Social engineering, aka "human hacking," aims to manipulate people instead of breaking through technical security controls. Employees are a critical line of defense as the primary targets of phishing campaigns and the like. Anti-phishing controls and Spam filters can't catch every scam.

To help employees spot social engineering attacks, cybersecurity awareness training programs often emphasize looking for hallmarks like bad grammar and awkward English. As mentioned above, generative AI makes this method obsolete. In response, cybersecurity training needs a change in emphasis.

Employees need to know exactly how AI is changing the cybersecurity landscape. Training programs should teach employees how hackers use generative AI and why social engineering attacks are so much harder to identify.

Security training should teach employees to treat every message as suspicious. Employees should only interact with messages after establishing trust.

To establish trust, employees should first triple-check the sender's email address. Does the message actually come from the person it claims to come from? In particular, employees must look out for the creative misspellings scammers sometimes use to disguise themselves — like writing "tornsmith@totallyrealwebsite.net" instead of "tomsmith@totallyrealwebsite.net." The first address uses an "r" and "n" to mimic the "m" in "tom." At first glance, it can be convincing.

Of course, hackers can spoof or hijack real email accounts to send malicious messages, so confirming the email address is not enough to fully establish trust. Employees must also scrutinize the content of the message. Employees should have two questions in mind as they examine potentially suspicious messages: Am I expecting this message, and are the message contents typical?

For example, if an employee receives a text from the CISO asking them to urgently buy a few gift cards, that should give them pause. Gift card purchases aren’t usually the CISO’s purview, so such a message would be both unexpected and unusual.

Finally, employees should always adhere to their company’s policies and processes when responding to requests. Ideally, a company shouldn’t permit employees to take major actions, like transferring money, based on emails or phone calls alone.

If such actions are permitted, however, employees should follow additional steps to verify requests before complying. One way to do this is to use out-of-band channels of communication to confirm requests. So, if the CEO sends an email asking an employee to move a large sum of cash to a new bank account, the employee should call the CEO to confirm, instead of replying to the email. After all, that email could be coming from a compromised account.

That said, cybersecurity teams can't outsource the responsibility for catching every attack to employees. It's ultimately up to them to be aware of attacker tools, techniques and procedures, put the right controls in place, and leverage the right tools and tactics to protect their networks and users.

To that end, training must evolve for cybersecurity pros, too. Specifically, cybersecurity teams need to learn how AI is changing the field, how hackers are using it, and how they can use it to scale up their own efforts. We'll address this topic in more detail in an upcoming article — subscribe to our blog to receive updates.

Learn how Skillsoft can train cybersecurity professionalsto combat escalating cyberthreats in the era of generative AI.

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From Office to Online: Adapting Corporate Sustainability Initiatives in the Era of Remote and Hybrid Work https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/from-office-to-online-adapting-corporate-sustainability-initiatives-in-the-era-of-remote-and-hybrid-work Wed, 11 Oct 2023 04:42:00 -0400 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/from-office-to-online-adapting-corporate-sustainability-initiatives-in-the-era-of-remote-and-hybrid-work

In 2020, the work-world as we know it changed, from physical-office, face-to-face collaboration to a pandemic-induced virtual workforce where Zoom ruled. Where working from home was once an occasional privilege for many, now remote work is the norm for millions of workers.

According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics survey results, “telework accounted for about 50% of paid work hours between April and December 2020, compared with 5% before the pandemic.” And, “At the beginning of the pandemic, the extent of job loss was much lower for workers who were able to telework.”

When we examine this shift to remote work, there are obvious benefits to using less physical energy, space, and time to get work done. But the question becomes: how do these changes to remote and hybrid work impact corporate sustainability initiatives?

Remote Work Has Its Perks (And Its Drawbacks)

Prior to delving into the effects on corporate sustainability initiatives, it’s worth noting that remote and hybrid working models have their advantages — and challenges —­ from a business perspective.

Advantages to remote work are significant and include:

Increased Flexibility

Remote and hybrid work models allow employees to design their workdays, enhancing overall job satisfaction. In fact, according to a Pew Research survey, as of March 2023, “about a third (35%) of workers with jobs that can be done remotely are working from home all of the time.”

Cost Savings

Reduced office space and utilities mean significantly less spending for organizations, (which can be redirected towards sustainability initiatives). According to Global Workplace Analytics, nearly 60% of employers identify cost savings as a significant benefit to telecommuting. Examples include IBM, which slashed real estate costs by $50 million, Sun Microsystems, which saves $68 million a year in real estate costs, and Nortel, which estimates it saves $100,000 per employee the company doesn’t have to relocate.

Talent Pool Expansion

By hiring employees from different geographical locations, companies not only tap into a wider talent pool, but can promote diversity and inclusion. According to LinkedIn data, a “skills-first” approach to hiring creates more opportunities for both companies and individuals.

On the other hand, the challenges of remote work cannot be ignored. They include:

  • Communication and Collaboration Complexity
    When communication is digital, tone, meaning, and intent can often be misconstrued. Not to mention, it can take longer — particularly when compared to walking to a co-worker’s desk and simply asking a question. Overall, maintaining effective communication and collaboration can be challenging when teams are dispersed.
  • Employee Wellbeing May Suffer
    Remote work can blur the lines between work and personal life, leading to potential burnout and reduced employee wellbeing. CivicScience data poll results show a total of 38% of hybrid workers and 41% of fully remote workers say they are unhappy to some degree with their current position, compared to just 21% of people working fully in person at an office or location.
  • Compromised Data Security
    Despite all gallant efforts to keep company information secure, protecting sensitive data can be more challenging in remote environments. According to a Gitnux market data report, the rise in cybersecurity risks from remote work is significant. “A 66% majority of organizations see remote work as increasing these risks. Human errors cause 90% of data breaches, and 60% of remote workers use unsecured devices for work.”

Building Better ESG Initiatives

With all we know about the benefits and drawbacks of remote work, it’s crucial to consider how these factors can influence sustainability initiatives and a company’s ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) standing.

When it comes to social impact, remote work can reduce commuting stress and allow for a better work-life balance. Not to mention, remote and hybrid work models can promote diversity by breaking down geographical barriers (as long as organizations foster inclusion through virtual networking and equitable access to resources.)

As Global Analytics Workplace states: “Hiring sight unseen, as some all-virtual employers do, greatly reduces the potential for discrimination,” and “Ensures that people are judged by what they do versus what they look like.”

Remote work’s contribution to environmental sustainability is even more immediate: reduced commuting — one of the biggest environmental benefits — leads to fewer cars, lower carbon emissions, and a cleaner environment. As evidence, IMF’s blog reports that “Emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases plunged 4.6% in 2020, as lockdowns in the first half of the year restricted global mobility and hampered economic activity.”

Office energy consumption is another significant factor. With fewer employees taking up electricity and desk space in offices, commercial energy consumption is reduced. According to a Loughborough University, School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering study, “Despite the expected rise in residential energy consumption, research shows that the overall impact of remote working on the global CO2 emissions would be an annual decline of 24 million tons.” By adopting energy-efficient technologies in the office spaces they do have, organizations can directly up their sustainability game.

How to Stay Compliant With Remote and Hybrid Employees

Remote and hybrid work is not only here to stay, overall, it’s a net win for sustainability. But keeping a workforce is compliant from a distance is no easy task.

Key elements to consider:

  1. Invest in data security technology — to safeguard valuable data, it is crucial for organizations to invest in advanced data security technology. Educating employees about the tools and knowledge required to maintain information security becomes paramount. By doing so, businesses can effectively protect sensitive data from potential threats and ensure the overall integrity of their operations.
  2. Give workers reliable communication tools — In order to foster effective collaboration, it is crucial to provide workers with reliable communication tools such as laptops, cell phones, and other necessary devices. Equipping them with these essential tools will enable seamless communication, enhance productivity, and promote efficient teamwork within the organization.
  3. Offer mental health support resources for managing stress, isolation, and maintaining a work-life balance. Offering comprehensive mental health support resources that can assist individuals in managing stress, combating isolation, and mastering the art of maintaining a healthy work-life balance. These resources are designed to provide practical guidance, strategies, and techniques to promote overall well-being and emotional resilience.

When it comes to hybrid employees, organizations should ensure equal access to resources, opportunities, and recognition as in-office employees receive. Not to mention, putting in place policies that support flexible work hours and locations, all in the name of healthy work-life balance.

Comprehensive and well-designed training programs play a critical role in ensuring that remote and hybrid employees remain compliant and aligned with sustainability goals. These training initiatives cover a range of important topics, including data security to safeguard valuable information, sustainability education to foster environmentally responsible practices, and inclusion and diversity training to promote a culture of fairness and equality in the workplace. By addressing these key areas, organizations can empower their employees to contribute to the overall success and sustainability of the company.

All Sustainable Roads Point To Remote Work

In conclusion, the shift to remote and hybrid work models has left an indelible mark — and that’s a good thing. Remote work and ESG goals can intertwine beautifully, creating new opportunities to meet corporate sustainability goals.

By prioritizing employee wellbeing, fostering diversity and inclusion, and embracing environmentally-friendly practices, organizations can elevate their ESG standing while benefiting, particularly from the significant cost savings.

While effective training and compliance measures are essential for creating new sustainability opportunities, the overall result can be a win-win. Not only for the company but for employees and the planet.

Wondering how to implement effective corporate sustainability training into your organization?

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Keeping Training Ethical With the Power of Skillsoft https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/keeping-training-ethical-with-the-power-of-skillsoft Wed, 11 Oct 2023 04:28:00 -0400 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/keeping-training-ethical-with-the-power-of-skillsoft

The Federal Election Commission’s seamless transition to Skillsoft’s AI-driven, personalized skilling platform enhanced employee onboarding, training, and development.

According to research by the World Economic Forum, 75% of organizations plan to adopt new technologies (AI, Big Data, Cloud, etc.) over the next five years, while 44% of workers’ core skills will experience disruption.

The United States Federal Government is no different. For government agencies, ethics, compliance, and leadership skills are paramount to maintaining credibility — as is the case with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

Historically, the FEC used Skillsoft’s legacy web-based learning platform, Skillport, for training. The FEC transitioned to Skillsoft’s latest platform, Skillsoft Percipio, in October 2022. With it, the agency could import existing course content into the newer platform while taking advantage of many new impactful capabilities.

Read on to learn how the AI-driven, personalized learning platform, comprehensive skilling pathways, interactive experiences, and robust reporting capabilities became indispensable for the FEC.

Empowering Employees From Day One

“When a new person starts [working at the FEC] — it can be a contractor or a new federal employee — they have to onboard with Skillsoft,” says Tiffany Carson-Canady, the FEC’s lead IT instructor and policy and planning expert, who’s been instrumental in implementing Skillsoft’s latest platform into the FEC’s training process. “You won’t get your equipment, network access, or anything unless you complete the full training program.”

Other mandatory training topics include VPN access, wireless training, sexual harassment, rules of behavior, document-sharing regulations, and disaster recovery. “Our admin training has two courses since COVID on occupant emergency,” Carson-Canady explains.

The platform's flexibility lets the organization blend custom content, in-person training, and existing Skillsoft assets in tracks and modules to ensure success. At the same time, a post-course assessment drives employee retention.

“I’m super excited about the new Skillsoft platform,” Carson-Canady says. “And I think this is the first time I've really seen the staff gravitating toward [a learning program] and asking how they can utilize it as well.”

In fact, the agency’s new Engagement Steering Committee (ESC) is very excited about Percipio and has launched a new training and development opportunity for all staff, called the “Percipio Discussion Series.” Every quarter, the ESC hosts a discussion focusing on a professional skill, based on the learning content regularly promoted by the IT Instructor team.
ESC builds discussions off of these recommendations (e.g. Time Management, leadership, communication, self-care, and more).

Customizing Training for Specific Needs

Different program offices within the FEC have unique training requirements — and Skillsoft accommodates them. For instance, agency-specific ethics training in a topic like The Hatch Act, requires an infallible learning system. The FEC trusts in Skillsoft.

The Power of Reporting

Through Skillsoft's latest reporting features, each program office can track employee progress, ensuring compliance with specialized training requirements. Not to mention, transparency and accountability within the organization.

“We get a lot of inquiries from auditors annually,” Carson-Canady says. “They’ll choose 10 or more staff at random and require evidence that they took a necessary training.”

If an employee has breached a conduct code, Carson-Canady and HR must also pull proof of certification. “I rely on the Skillsoft platform for accurate information,” she says.

Leadership on the Horizon

One of the programs Carson-Canady has strived to implement during her 20-plus years at the FEC is a leadership cohort for in-house talent. Now, along with Skillsoft and the director of HR, that goal is finally becoming a reality.

“I’m working on a Skillsoft pre-assessment and training track for 10-to-15 employees that will include guest speakers and tapping into existing managers and staff,” Carson-Canady explains.

Along with the cohort, which will rotate after six months, Carson-Canady plans to make the leadership tools available to all staff members through a dedicated Skillsoft learning path.

“We want to give all of our staff the resources necessary to adapt to change,” she says.

Using Skillsoft to Unlock Potential

One core concept Carson-Canady tries to impart to employees is Skillsoft’s potential for propelling individual growth.

“After a person has completed their mandatory training, I provide them with a tutorial for making the most out of Skillsoft and its asset catalog,” Carson-Canady says. “I want them to know, ‘Hey, don't just look at this as something you do for mandatory training.’”

For instance, Carson-Canady loves the option to collaborate with participants from all over the world in live, virtual bootcamps.

“How awesome is it that you learn from an instructor but also learn from each other, and we're all in different offices?” she says. “You have so many more takeaways and wonderful nuggets in the chat room in that live event. The participants all said how wonderful it was, and it piqued their interest in the platform.”

Carson-Canady’s tutorial also explains the extensive skilling pathways within the Skillsoft platform, all for free.

“It's not just IT training; there's so much more — writing skills, oral skills, how to communicate effectively, leadership, and time management,” she says. “You can log on and invest 30 minutes a day in yourself!”

Using Every Inch of the Platform

The FEC is taking advantage of every capability in Skillsoft’s toolbox.
From employee onboarding — with a mix of custom and Skillsoft assets — to post-course reporting, compliance training, and live events for remote training opportunities, the platform has truly given the FEC a new approach to skill-building.

Discover today how Skillsoft’s AI-driven, personalized platform can invigorate training at your organization. Learn more.

These factual statements were made in response to questions posed by Skillsoft and are not intended to convey an endorsement of Skillsoft by the Federal Election Commission.”

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Building Up Women in Leadership with Skillsoft Coach Beth Egan https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/building-up-women-in-leadership-with-skillsoft-coach-beth-egan Wed, 11 Oct 2023 04:14:00 -0400 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/building-up-women-in-leadership-with-skillsoft-coach-beth-egan

Women represent 58.4% of the workforce in the United States, but only hold 35% of senior leadership positions. Which is a surprising, considering women leaders are known to break down many workplace barriers caused by gender biases and serve as transformational role models. The unique communication skills of women often contribute to creating meaningful connections and foster a more supportive work environment.

As we navigate through an era where diversity and inclusion have taken center stage in a professional environment, empowering women leaders through tailored coaching has become imperative. By investing in the development of women, businesses not only promote diversity and inclusion but also drive innovation and improved problem-solving.

Do you have any women+ leaders that might benefit from coaching? Take a peek at Skillsoft’s Coaching solution to see how our exceptional coaches can help guide your employees to personal and professional success.

Meet Skillsoft Coach Beth Egan

Beth is a seasoned professional coach based in Atlanta, Georgia with over 30 years of operational experience. She has accumulated more than 1,500 hours of paid professional coaching, helping individuals and organizations work towards their goals. In addition to having her MBA, Beth is a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) by the International Coaching Federation (ICF).

Her industry experience is vast and varied, encompassing sectors such as energy, technology, logistics, transportation, retail, consumer goods, entertainment, finance, healthcare, and insurance. With her extensive knowledge and hands-on experience, Beth brings a unique perspective to her women in leadership coaching clients, enabling her to guide them toward their goals effectively and efficiently.

We had the pleasure of asking Beth a few questions to gain insights into her coaching philosophy and why coaching is so important as a professional development practice.

Skillsoft: Can you provide an overview of your coaching philosophy and approach?

Beth Egan: My coaching philosophy is clear: the fundamental premise of coaching is that the answers are within you. I help you understand the strengths that propel you forward and find out what’s holding you back from realizing your full potential. I challenge you to explore deeply, bringing awareness to the forefront, enabling you to make conscious choices to build new habits and behaviors to accelerate your potential and flourish.

Can you share any success stories or case studies from your previous coaching engagements?

A technically competent senior leader was recently appointed Senior VP of a large technology-based organization. Leadership at this level required interpersonal skills to motivate, engage, and inspire business units across the enterprise. I was selected to coach the leader to advance self-awareness and empathy skills in a way that would empower him to authentically communicate and influence effective change during a time of increased disruption in the industry.

The coaching process included a personality assessment and 360 feedback integrated with the competencies required for the new position. Bringing awareness to the forefront through this science-based assessment approach resonated with the leader. Combined with inspiring best practices, including Microsoft CEO Nadella’s story of leading with Empathy, providing the “art and science” approach that became the foundation for his self-exploration and mindset shift. The post engagement impact report showed significant improvement in employee engagement, motivation, and trust.

How do you support learners in developing their leadership skills and enhancing their professional growth?

I provide leaders with an understanding of their strengths, challenges, and underlying motivations through evidence-based assessments and client intake. By empowering clients with insights into how they are perceived as leaders, and setting goals to shift habits and behaviors, I inspire them to create new opportunities for themselves, their teams, and the business. I partner with clients to challenge their assumptions and see through their blind spots, because that is where the real growth happens. I am their thought partner, their accountability partner, and their sounding board, creating a safe place to process individual needs and desired states.

What do you believe is the benefit to scaling leadership capabilities across the organization through coaching?

Scaling leadership capabilities across the organization enables transformation initiatives and accelerates culture transformation, which all clients are seeking today — especially with the rapid growth of AI-enabled technology. Through leadership coaching, we can identify role models within the organization to create grassroots positive change, while also developing capabilities where there are gaps in the organization — all done at the highly personalized individual level.

Learn more about the power of coaching.

How do you stay updated with the latest trends and developments in leadership and coaching?

I keep my ICF credentials up to date with 40 CEUs over the three-year period. I am active on social media related to coaching trends, and I am active in my local chapter of ICF- Georgia. I write blogs and sit on expert panel interviews on the future of work and coaching. In addition, I also:

  • Attend behavior science conferences, eg: International Positive Psychology Conference
  • Participate in mentor coaching
  • Attend brain-based coaching training
  • Read HBR Daily Briefings
  • Attend ICF Workshops on new technology eg: role of AI in coaching
  • I do ongoing research on coaching and behavior science


Want Beth to coach someone from your team?

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How to Build a Vibrant Learning Culture in Your Organization https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/how-to-build-a-vibrant-learning-culture-in-your-organization Tue, 10 Oct 2023 12:56:00 -0400 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/how-to-build-a-vibrant-learning-culture-in-your-organization

Work is busy. In fact, worker productivity has increased by more than 60% during the last half-century. But as employees focus on doing their “day jobs,” it can be hard to find time to learn new skills that will help them to be the best they can be – personally and professionally – as we move toward a future version of work.

Carving our time for learning is not just a valuable investment in employees’ individual growth and development; it also has a significant impact on the overall success and competitiveness of an organization.

Here at Skillsoft, we understand the importance of upskilling and reskilling – and we are committed to the learning and development of every team member. Employees are encouraged to set aside time every three months for a dedicated “quarterly day of learning.” There are a variety of resources available, including instructor-led group training, online courses, workshops, and coaching programs.

I've personally benefited from Skillsoft's culture of learning. I've taken courses on leadership, communication, and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). I've also attended Leadercamps on various topics. These learning experiences have helped me to grow as a leader and to contribute more effectively to my team.

Encourage Your Team to Thrive Through Learning

As a leader, it is essential that you offer your team learning opportunities. Here are some actionable insights on how to cultivate a culture of learning in your organization:

  • Make learning a priority. Leaders need to send the message that learning is important and that it's okay for employees to take time out of their day to learn. This can be done by setting aside time for learning each week, by encouraging employees to attend workshops and conferences, and by providing the right resources and financial support for employees to pursue professional development opportunities.
  • Provide a variety of learning resources. Some people prefer to learn online, while others prefer to learn in person. Some people prefer to learn independently, while others prefer to learn in groups. By providing a variety of learning resources, you can ensure that there's something for everyone.
  • Make learning accessible. Everyone should have access to learning opportunities, regardless of their role, level of experience, or location. This means offering a variety of learning formats, such as online courses, workshops, webinars, simulations, case studies, discussion circles, and coaching etc. It also means making sure that learning resources are available to employees in different time zones and locations.
  • Recognize and reward learning. When employees take the time to learn, it's important to recognize and reward their efforts. This can be done by giving employees public recognition, by providing them with opportunities for advancement, or by offering them financial incentives.

Tools and Resources

Here are some tools and resources that you can use to cultivate a culture of learning in your organization:

  • Learning management system (LMS): An LMS is a platform that can be used to deliver and manage online courses. There are many different LMSs available, so choose one that is right for your organization's needs. I might be biased but have you experienced Skillsoft Percipio yet? Skillsoft’s online learning platform helps organizations identify and measure skill proficiencies to ensure their workforce stays relevant. The platform makes skilling personalized and accessible, offering a blend of self-paced online courses, hands-on practice, virtual live online classes, and coaching to close skill gaps. And it’s available anytime, anywhere, on any device.
  • Learning content provider: There are many companies that provide learning content, such as online courses, e-books, and videos. When choosing a learning content provider, look for one that offers a variety of high-quality content on topics that are relevant to your employees. I encourage you to explore the Skillsoft course catalog and access one of the most extensive course libraries in the world, including interactive videos and simulations, and grow your organization and people with AI-driven learning.
  • Coaching program: Leadership coaching is not just for the C-suite anymore. As businesses look to retain top talent and fill the talent pipeline, building effective leaders becomes an integral part of skilling across organizations. To succeed during workforce transformation, businesses must prepare all employees to be leaders, not only in their roles but also at their company. And in a world that has become rapidly virtualized, coaching plays a critical role throughout the employee lifecycle.
  • Measure progress: Skill Benchmarks are a way for you to gauge your and your team's proficiency in a particular skill and truly identify the ROI for all the efforts spent on Learning and development.
  • Gen AI in learning: Use technology to scale learning and make it stick. We recently announced the general availability of Skillsoft CAISY Conversation AI Simulator, an innovative generative AI based tool for simulating business and leadership conversational skills. CAISY makes those difficult work conversations easier, by providing employees with an emotionally safe space to practice important business conversations with an AI-powered trainer. CAISY not only plays the role of the other person within the conversation but also provides personalized feedback and guidance on communication style to guide development.

Where to Start?

Here are some tips for cultivating a culture of learning in your organization:

  • Start with the leaders. Leaders need to model the importance of learning. This means setting aside time for learning each week, sharing their learning experiences with others, and encouraging their team members to learn.
  • Make learning fun. Learning should be enjoyable and engaging. Look for ways to make learning fun for your employees, such as offering gamified learning experiences or hosting social learning events.
  • Make learning social. People learn best from others. Encourage employees to learn together and to share their knowledge with each other. This can be done through mentorship programs, communities of practice, or simply by encouraging employees to share their learning experiences with their colleagues.
  • Measure the impact of learning. It's important to measure the impact of your learning programs to ensure that they are effective. This can be done by benchmarks, collecting feedback from employees, tracking employee performance, and measuring the impact of learning on business outcomes.

By following these tips, you can cultivate a culture of learning in your organization that will help your employees to grow and develop, and that will help your organization to succeed.

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Securing Our World, One Cybersecurity Course at a Time https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/securing-our-world-one-cybersecurity-course-at-a-time Tue, 10 Oct 2023 08:30:00 -0400 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/securing-our-world-one-cybersecurity-course-at-a-time

This October, the world celebrates its 20th annual Cybersecurity Awareness Month – a partnership between the private and public sectors that is meant to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity.

“Secure Our World,” this year’s theme, focuses on four easy ways that individuals can stay safe online. These include:

These tips send a clear message that cybersecurity is not just an IT problem. In fact, everyone needs to play a part in protecting their data online. And organizations looking to mitigate cybersecurity risks must be proactive in educating employees on best cybersecurity practices.

Cybersecurity Training Is Critical

Each year, Skillsoft investigates the most impactful cybersecurity learning trends we see across our learning experience platform. We are curious: Is the appetite for cybersecurity training growing? Who is spending the most hours consuming cybersecurity courses? What topics are they focusing on? Why?

Today, we’re pleased to share the results of our Lean Into Learning: Cybersecurity Awareness Report to help answer some of these questions.

As suspected, cybersecurity learning continues to grow in 2023, underscoring the growing importance and investment organizations are placing in staying current with cybersecurity practices.

Interestingly, the distribution of learning hours across various cybersecurity topics—ranging from cloud, data, infrastructure, programming, security, and software development—has been nearly equal. However, software development claimed a slightly higher share of attention at 19% of the total cybersecurity learning in 2023.

Our learning data also highlights the significant uptick in the consumption of security and infrastructure/operations courses in 2023. This trend underscores the burgeoning focus of organizations on strengthening their security infrastructure and instituting robust data protection measures.

And while employees may not directly manage the cybersecurity infrastructure, their understanding and awareness of it are crucial to an organization’s overall security posture. By promoting cybersecurity education, organizations can foster a security-conscious culture and mitigate risks arising from human errors or unawareness.

Empower Employees to Protect Their Data

With new security threats emerging daily, organizations worldwide are recognizing the need to equip their employees with the right skills to protect their data from unauthorized access or misuse. A review of the top cybersecurity training content consumed this year reveals some interesting trends.

Namely, the Security Essentials Aspire Journey by Skillsoft’s Codecademy has seen widespread adoption globally. This popularity underscores the growing commitment to establish a robust security culture within organizations, equipping employees with foundational knowledge to handle common security threats and understand their business impact.

Simultaneously, as operations increasingly migrate to the cloud, understanding and leveraging the security measures implemented by cloud service providers is becoming critical. In fact, securing cloud operations is a shared responsibility between organizations and their cloud service providers.

Maybe that’s why there’s been a decline in the consumption of Threat Intelligence courses. This may suggest a shift in focus from traditional threat intelligence measures towards utilizing the enhanced security capabilities offered by cloud service providers. This trend highlights the evolving landscape of cybersecurity and the need for organizations to stay abreast of these changes.

Cybersecurity Training Transcends Industry

Delving further into the consumption data of cybersecurity courses across various industries, our data reveals interesting trends and provides insights into how different sectors prioritize and engage with cybersecurity training.

One notable trend is the significant increase in cybersecurity content consumption by education and training organizations globally. Since 2020, a staggering 51.6% of all cybersecurity content consumed by education and training organizations was consumed in 2023. This surge might be attributed to various factors such as the evolving cyber threat landscape, high-profile incidents affecting the industry, changes in cybersecurity regulations and compliance requirements, unique security issues related to remote learning environments, and more.

Moreover, there's been a significant growth in the number of badges earned in 2023 by learners in the education/training sector. This suggests an increased focus on demonstrating proficiency in cybersecurity through badge earning.

Interestingly, the business services and consulting industry consistently leads in terms of the total number of cybersecurity badges earned each year. This trend could be due to a commitment to protecting client data, meeting clients' cybersecurity expectations, and safeguarding sensitive client information and intellectual property from theft or unauthorized access.

An Uptick in Cybersecurity Certifications

Our data indicates a significant increase in cybersecurity certifications in 2023, with a 110.2% rise in the past year and a 270.9% increase since 2020. This surge may be attributed to several key factors:

  • Validation of Skills: Cybersecurity certifications serve as formal validations of professionals' knowledge and skills in the field, providing evidence of their expertise in safeguarding digital assets.
  • Career Advancement: Holding relevant certifications can enhance job prospects, facilitate promotions, and lead to higher salaries.
  • Specialization: Certifications enable professionals to specialize in specific domains within cybersecurity, showcasing their expertise in areas like ethical hacking, incident response, or network security.
  • Staying Current: Certification requirements mandate staying up-to-date with the latest trends, tools, and best practices, ensuring that professionals remain relevant in the ever-evolving cybersecurity landscape.
  • Risk Management: Equipping professionals with the skills to assess and mitigate security risks effectively is vital for organizations seeking to protect data, ensure business continuity, and comply with regulations.
  • Personal Satisfaction: Achieving a cybersecurity certification can boost personal satisfaction and confidence among professionals.

By understanding these factors, organizations can enhance their cybersecurity efforts, build robust defenses against cyber threats, and foster a culture of resilience. This data serves as a reminder of the critical need for continuous learning and adaptation in our approach to cybersecurity.

Interested in learning more? I’ll be hosting a cybersecurity webinar on October 12, 2023 at 12:00PM ET. I’d love to see you there, and answer any questions you might have. Register now!

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Most Tech Leaders Say Skills Gaps Are a Problem at Work, Here’s Why https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/most-tech-leaders-say-skills-gaps-are-a-problem-at-work-heres-why Fri, 06 Oct 2023 09:00:00 -0400 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/most-tech-leaders-say-skills-gaps-are-a-problem-at-work-heres-why

Business leaders and analysts alike agree that change is the new normal. Organizations face historic challenges: the rapid evolution of new technologies, a competitive talent landscape, and a need to control costs. This creates constant pressure on technology leaders to attract, retain, and grow people with the right skills to achieve business objectives and provide employee fulfillment.

Yet, according to Skillsoft’s latest report titled "The C-Suite Perspective," 80% of executives say their organizations struggle with skills gaps, with 75% anticipating skills gaps in the next 1 to 2 years.

In a world of constant change, how do organizations not only survive, but thrive?

Enter Skillsoft’s Codecademy, An All-in-one Tech Training Solution

Coding is a foundational skill in our digital-first world. It not only supports the advancement of developers and programmers, but many tech roles. Knowing this, last year, Skillsoft acquired Codecademy to enhance the breadth and depth of our technology & developer portfolio. Since then, we’ve been working hard to integrate the Skillsoft and Codecademy solutions to develop what organizations need to thrive in a world of constant change.

Today, we are excited to announce significant enhancements to our skilling solutions as we integrate Skillsoft’s technology & developer portfolio with Codecademy to offer the most hands-on and flexible tech learning solution for proactive transformation.

Under the Codecademy name, learners will now have access to all of Skillsoft’s technology & developer library and Codecademy content through Skillsoft’s learning experience platform Percipio.

This enhanced, all-in-one tech training solution offers:

An Expanded Content Library

Our new library is comprised of more than 6,000 courses and 19,000 tech skills assets aligned with the most in-demand technology skills. The full curriculum is developed in partnership with subject matter experts and authorized partners, including Microsoft, AWS, Google Cloud, IBM, and Cisco, providing in-depth, relevant content designed to help businesses and individuals thrive.

Flexible, Multi-modal Learning Experiences

We’re launching more than 30 new interactive Aspire Journeys across high-priority tech domains and programming languages. By blending Codecademy’s hands-on learning environment with on-demand video content, Aspire Journeys provide flexible, multi-modal learning experiences to meet users’ unique needs and learning preferences while driving growth for businesses.

Increased Interactivity

We’re giving organizations access to more interactive features, including 500+ new interactive labs for practicing coding skills, an easier way to discover interactive courses with improved search capabilities, and learning path customization and reporting on interactive courses — all available within Skillsoft Percipio.

More Enterprise Product Features

Through the solution and content integration, organizations will also have access to the full-range of Skillsoft’s enterprise-focused product features – including badging, reporting, and more than 500 Skill Benchmarks to assess, index, and track workforce skills development. Skills Benchmarks help organizations to close skills gaps and harness the potential of new and emerging technologies such as generative AI. (See our 90-day roadmap here.)

These enhancements are just the start of our growing investment in delivering more hands-on methods of learning and our commitment to continuously improving how we help build adaptive workforces.

Steps to Close the Skills Gap

Through Codecademy, we’re helping tech leaders fill their skills gaps by:

  • Upskilling and reskilling across the organization. To address skills gaps, C-level tech leaders are two times more likely to upskill and reskill existing employees than hire additional staff. By creating interactive and intuitive upskilling and reskilling programs through Codecademy, customers like RizePoint have reported +90% retention rate over the past 2 years, while other customers, like CGI, have reported a 7x-17x return on investment.

  • Accelerating tech onboarding. With expertly curated Aspire Journeys, organizations can quickly build and customize onboarding programs to meet their needs, reduce time-to-value, and boost productivity. Generation, for example, experienced up to a 90% job placement rate for engineers and programmers following the completion of their hands-on onboarding training.

  • Driving tech and digital literacy at scale. Through interactive Skills Benchmarks, tech leaders can assess their tech and digital proficiency across the organization and guide learning at the pace of the learner. Through this real-world skill application, companies like Johnson & Johnson are successfully creating talent development for all employees, encouraging them to invest in their own education and apply their skills in a way that supports the company’s work.


Change is hard — but, it doesn’t have to be. With the right technology training, organizations have the power to affect lasting, meaningful change. Learn more about how Skillsoft's Codecademy provides comprehensive hands-on technology training that will transform your business.

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Who Needs a Seat at the Table? Building a Multidisciplinary ESG Steering Committee https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/who-needs-a-seat-at-the-table-building-a-multidisciplinary-esg-steering-committee Wed, 04 Oct 2023 09:38:00 -0400 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/who-needs-a-seat-at-the-table-building-a-multidisciplinary-esg-steering-committee

The term “ESG” has become more than just an acronym. It represents a fundamental shift in how organizations operate and are perceived by the world.

ESG stands for environmental, social, and governance, and it encompasses a framework that evaluates an organization’s impact on the environment, its relationships with society, and its governance structures. ESG factors are driven by the public’s growing awareness of the environmental and social impact businesses can have on our world.

Consumers and employees are placing increasing pressure on organizations to take responsibility for their actions and improve their performance across all three ESG dimensions. Employees seek employers who share their values in a world increasingly concerned with creating a secure and positive future.

Embracing robust ESG practices offers numerous advantages to organizations. It helps reduce exposure to risks; enhances reputation with investors, consumers, and stakeholders; and leads to cost savings in energy consumption, waste management, and insurance premiums. Ernst & Young’s recent study confirms that ESG remains a top priority for American executives. Other research from the World Economic Forum highlights how comprehensive ESG reporting leads to corporate transformation globally. ESG practices drive innovation, product development, market expansion, talent acquisition, and employee retention.

The Crucial Role of a Dedicated ESG Committee

A dedicated ESG committee is vital in elevating and prioritizing ESG issues within an organization, ensuring they are appropriately managed. It leverages expertise from diverse organizational areas to craft and execute effective ESG initiatives. Additionally, the committee facilitates transparent communication of ESG performance to stakeholders, fostering trust and attracting investors, customers, and top-tier talent. A dedicated ESG committee empowers organizations to enhance their ESG performance, mitigate risks, and build a more sustainable and responsible future.

ESG risks and opportunities are intricate and varied, influenced by industry, organization size, location, and additional factors. To effectively recognize and assess these ESG factors, building a diverse, multidisciplinary team is imperative.

Creating an ESG team involves five phases:

Phase 1: Forming a Multidisciplinary Team

A diverse team brings varying perspectives and experiences, ensuring all potential risks and opportunities are identified and considered. For instance, a group comprising members from different functions, such as sustainability, legal, human resources, and risk management, can comprehensively assess ESG risks. Similarly, a team with members with experience in multiple industries can identify risks and best practices regardless of sector. Additionally, a multidisciplinary team brings diverse skills and expertise, emphasizing the importance of solid communication and collaboration skills.

Constructing a diverse team involves considering several factors:

  • Organizational Goals: Identify the ESG priorities aligned with the organization’s goals and objectives. Determine the skills and expertise required to achieve these priorities.
  • Diversity Dimensions: Recognize the diversity dimensions important to the organization, such as gender, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, disability, and educational background.
  • Experience in Diverse Environments: Seek candidates with a track record of working in diverse environments, showcasing their ability to collaborate effectively with different perspectives.
  • Open-Mindedness: Be open to candidates who may not have traditional qualifications but possess unique talents and perspectives.
  • Invest in Training: Be willing to invest in training and development to equip team members with the required skills and knowledge.

Find out what your corporate sustainability training should look like.

Remember that the specific criteria will vary depending on the organization’s unique goals, objectives, and culture. However, by considering these factors, organizations can establish a diverse, multidisciplinary team well-equipped to identify and assess ESG risks and opportunities.

Phase 2: Defining the Organization’s ESG Vision

Crafting a compelling and practical ESG vision is the next crucial step. Start by gaining a clear understanding of your organization’s values and goals. Ask yourself what your organization stands for and what it aims to achieve.

Identify the ESG issues most important to your organization, such as climate change, human rights, and corporate governance. Set ambitious yet achievable goals for ESG performance to maintain motivation and ensure alignment with your organization’s mission.

Ensure that the committee is supported by the highest levels of your organization. A member of the C-suite and/or the board of directors should serve as sponsor to the sustainability vision. Communicate your ESG vision to stakeholders to garner support and increase the likelihood of achieving your goals. Integrating your ESG vision into your organization’s overall strategy is essential for sustainable and effective ESG efforts.

Establish mechanisms to measure and report on your ESG performance and commit to continuous improvement as an ongoing process.

Phase 3: Creating an ESG Framework and Action Plan

Developing an ESG framework and action plan is the crux of translating your vision into tangible initiatives.

When developing your organization’s framework consider the following:

Establish ESG Goals: Define your organization’s ESG goals and objectives, aligning them with your vision. These goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

Identify Risks and Opportunities: Recognize your organization’s ESG risks and opportunities. Understand how ESG factors can impact your business.

Conduct a Materiality Assessment: Determine which ESG factors are most beneficial to your organization. Focus on those that have the most significant impact on your stakeholders and business.

Develop an ESG Framework: Create a framework that outlines your organization’s ESG principles and commitments. This framework should serve as the foundation for your ESG initiatives.

Craft an ESG Action Plan: Outline specific ESG goals, objectives, and steps to achieve them. Consider resource allocation, timelines, and responsible parties. Execute your plan by setting targets, allocating resources, and tracking progress. Ensure that responsible teams or individuals are well-equipped to carry out the initiatives.

Communicate ESG Progress: Regularly communicate your organization’s ESG progress to stakeholders. Transparency builds trust and demonstrates your commitment to ESG.

Continuous Improvement: Treat ESG as an ongoing process. Continuously assess and enhance your ESG performance based on feedback and results.

Learn more about how training falls into your ESG action plan.

Phase 4: Pinpointing Relevant Stakeholders

In shaping your organization’s ESG strategy, engaging relevant stakeholders is crucial. These stakeholders, including customers, investors, employees, suppliers, and the community, offer valuable insights and alignment with ESG expectations. They influence ESG priorities, sustainability commitments, and responsible workplace practices.

Involving stakeholders in the ESG process yields several advantages, including improved decision-making, increased support, enhanced reputation, and reduced ESG-related risks. This collaborative approach ensures that ESG initiatives are well-informed, trusted, and aligned with broader sustainability goals.

Phase 5: Executing and Overseeing the ESG Strategy

Execution and monitoring processes are essential for achieving ESG objectives for several reasons:

  • Accountability: Execution and monitoring establish clear accountability, ensuring that ESG objectives are owned and progress is made.
  • Progress Tracking: Monitoring provides a systematic way to track ESG initiative progress and identify potential issues.
  • Data Collection and Analysis: Data collection informs decision-making and measures the success of ESG initiatives.
  • Resource Allocation: Monitoring helps allocate resources effectively, optimizing ESG efforts.
  • Stakeholder Communication: Effective monitoring supports transparent reporting to stakeholders.
  • Risk Management: Identifying and mitigating ESG-related risks is essential for minimizing potential negative impacts.
  • Compliance: Monitoring ensures compliance with ESG-related laws and regulations.
  • Alignment with Goals: Monitoring keeps ESG initiatives aligned with the organization’s values and objectives.
  • Strategic Decision-Making: Data from monitoring informs strategic decision-making.

Empower Your Workforce to Embrace ESG

The steering committee plays a pivotal role in executing and monitoring ESG objectives within your organization. The committee provides strategic oversight, sets goals, allocates resources, and far more. It’s an invaluable resource for long-term success and responsible corporate citizenship.

By embracing ESG principles and building a dedicated ESG steering committee, organizations can navigate the complex landscape of environmental, social, and governance factors, mitigate risks, enhance their reputation, and contribute to a more sustainable and responsible future.

The fundamental transformation occurs when you empower your frontline employees to embrace these initiatives daily. As you embark on your journey to build an ESG steering committee and elevate your organization’s strategy, remember that change is a gradual process.

Start today, and together, we can shape a future where sustainability is not just a “must-have” but a core value that defines your organization’s legacy.

Skillsoft’s How to Begin Your Corporate Sustainability Journey guide offers a step-by-step roadmap to help you navigate this transformative journey successfully.

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Understanding the Evolution of the Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities at Work https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/understanding-the-evolution-of-the-cybersecurity-vulnerabilities-at-work Wed, 04 Oct 2023 07:29:00 -0400 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/understanding-the-evolution-of-the-cybersecurity-vulnerabilities-at-work

Cybersecurity affects all of us, yet it has different implications for different people. From data protection and technological services to company ideologies and training initiatives, cybersecurity covers a wide range of ideas and topics, influencing all people who interact with it in different ways.

The world of cybersecurity is extremely dynamic. Between an increase in cyber threats, a major skilling gap in the workplace, and the rapid adoption of new technology, cyberattacks look very different today than they did a few years ago.

That’s why cybersecurity has become a strategic imperative for businesses of all sizes and industries. It requires investment in technology, employee training, policy development, and continuous monitoring to stay ahead of evolving risk.

So, what are some of the biggest cybersecurity threats today, how have they evolved, and how can your organization work to stop them? Read on to find out more.

Let’s get to work (from home)

To comprehend what the modern cybersecurity landscape looks like, it's important to understand how threats have evolved over the years. Today, organizations are increasingly relying on the internet for daily activities. This, combined with the COVID-19 pandemic, has led to an acceleration in the shift to remote work.

As information and activities relocate online, they become more vulnerable to cyber threat actors, posing a significant threat to individuals and organizations, particularly through the theft of intellectual property and personal information. This can facilitate criminal behavior such as identity theft and financial fraud. As more and more professional responsibilities are being moved online, cyber threat activity has followed, leading to an increased risk to the functioning of machinery and the personal and professional safety of organizations and their employees everywhere.

Let’s take a look at some of the most significant threats that exist today:

  1. Ransomware attacks are attacks that involve hackers encrypting a victim’s data and demanding a ransom in exchange for the decryption key. These attackers often target large organizations and critical infrastructure.
  2. Social engineering attacks are attacks that manipulate people into revealing confidential information, such as passwords or credit card numbers. Phishing is a common type of social engineering attack, where attackers impersonate a trusted entity to trick victims into disclosing sensitive information.
  3. Data breaches are attacks involving unauthorized access to sensitive data, often with the intent to steal and sell it on the dark web. These attacks can result in significant financial losses and damage to an organization’s reputation.
  4. AI-driven attacks are when cybercriminals use artificial intelligence (AI) to make their attacks more sophisticated and harder to detect. AI can automate the hacking process, allowing cybercriminals to carry out attacks at scale and at a speed that was previously unimaginable.

These attacks each pose significant threats to an organization’s security and reputation, and working from home can make employees even more vulnerable, especially when considering the increase in the use of personal mobile devices in the workforce that has arisen since the pandemic.

Ring, ring! Who’s there?

In today’s “bring your own device” work culture, handheld mobile devices are quickly becoming a favorite for hackers. Any employee who accesses company email, networks, or data on their personal mobile device can become a potential weak point in an organization’s cybersecurity defense.

According to a study done by Verizon in 2022, 58% of mobile devices had at least one malicious URL clicked, while 16% of mobile devices had at least one malware or riskware app installed. Considering those percentages within an organization exemplifies the high potential for risk and the danger cyberthreats on mobile devices pose to companies.

While many cybersecurity threats look the same regardless of the device used, there are additional threats to consider when looking at mobile devices.

  1. Phishing is the most common cyberattack today. It most often comes in the form of fake emails or text messages sent to mobile devices that look perfectly real but contain dangerous links that work to steal your information when you click on them.
  2. Vishing is like phishing but instead of texts or emails, it involves phone or video calls. During these calls that often seem legitimate, actors on the other line will often try to get you to reveal sensitive information about yourself or your organization.
  3. Fake Wi-Fi networks are another threat to which mobile devices are particularly prone. When using your personal device in a public location, be wary of the networks you connect to because illegitimate ones can steal your data as soon as you connect.
  4. Fake apps are particularly tricky to parse out. When downloading new applications to your mobile device, make sure you use a reputable app store and pay attention to what you’re installing on your device.

As technology improves, cyberattacks are getting more sophisticated so it’s important that you pay careful attention to the links you click, the calls you answer, and the apps you download—especially when working on a personal device. And importantly, it is critical that your organization has a training program in place to empower employees to do the same.

Let’s talk about AI

One of the biggest trends in the future of cybersecurity is the use of AI and Machine Learning (ML) technologies.

With major developments in artificial intelligence paving the way for the future of modern technology, the cybersecurity risks associated with these technologies are inevitably not far behind. As mentioned before, cybercriminals are now using AI to make their attacks more sophisticated and harder to detect. They do this by enabling the ability to automate the hacking process, allowing cybercriminals to carry out attacks at scale and at a speed that was previously unimaginable.

This may sound scary, but don’t worry too much, because with the higher risk created by AI and ML technologies, the newer systems can also be used to help fight against cyberattacks. Now, AI and ML algorithms can analyze large amounts of data and detect patterns and anomalies that may indicate a potential threat. This allows organizations to quickly identify and respond to cyberattacks, reducing risk of damage and minimizing the impact of a breach. But, it’s important that if your organization is planning to implement AI technologies you do it ethically.

With new threats evolving as quickly as technology does, the need for advanced training programs that are equipped to handle the ever-changing cybersecurity landscape is more apparent than ever. Safeguarding your organization against cybersecurity threats is important for a multitude of reasons. Not only does it help secure devices, networks, and communication systems, but it also helps mitigate risk and save money for your organization.

To learn more about what the cybersecurity threat landscape looks like today, be sure to stay up to date on our many other courses, guides, and blogs for Cybersecurity Month Awareness Month that cover how to use education and training to successfully protect your organization.

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How to Promote (And Celebrate) Cybersecurity Awareness Month https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/how-to-promote-and-celebrate-cybersecurity-awareness-month Mon, 02 Oct 2023 09:00:00 -0400 Sumithra.Appalabottula@sumtotalsystems.com (Sumithra Appalabottula) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/how-to-promote-and-celebrate-cybersecurity-awareness-month

These days, virtually anyone online today is concerned with cybersecurity whether they want to be or not.

Breaches are occurring more frequently as organizations suffer the exploits of ceaseless threat actors motivated by what they can gain from compromised data.

Fortinet’s 2023 Cybersecurity Skills Gap Report shows data breaches jumped 80% from 2021 to 2022, with 84% of survey respondents incurring at least one incident. Further, the number of organizations experiencing five or more jumped by more than 50% during the same time period.

Threats and breaches aren’t only becoming more frequent, but more costly too. IBM’s Cost of a Data Breach Report shows the average breach costs businesses $4.45 million. That’s at an all-time high.

Three-quarters of breaches are due to a human element, Verizon reports, meaning that a lack of awareness or skills play a role in risk. Fortinet’s report shows nearly 70% of organizations face additional risks because of the skills gap in cybersecurity, with most struggling to hire professionals — particularly in cloud security and security operations.

As a result of breaches, most boards of directors want to increase headcount, while businesses are increasing their investments in everything from operations to employee training.

That’s good news as awareness and consideration of cybersecurity best practices — like not sharing or reusing passwords — have become an imperative for virtually everyone online today. It’s because threats come from all over: unsuspecting employees, highly sophisticated social engineering tactics, you name it.

All of this fuels the importance of Cybersecurity Awareness Month.

Since its inception, the monthlong awareness campaign has become an international phenomenon led by the National Cybersecurity Alliance and U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to equip people and organizations with the resources they need to secure their data online and prevent cyber-attacks.

This month, you can take part and improve your skill with new resources from Skillsoft. Dive in here:

New Report: Security Training Is Up — But Are Some Falling Behind?

Skillsoft’s 2023 Cybersecurity Awareness Report dives into training consumption data to spot and analyze trends. Read this year’s report to understand why some organizations have taken a stronger stance on security and how it’s impacting them — and learn which industries may be at greater risk of falling behind.

Covered in the report:

  • Cybersecurity training trends and the impacts
  • The most popular cybersecurity topics and courses
  • Which industries and regions are prioritizing training

Upcoming Event: Safeguarding the Digital Frontier with Skillsoft’s CISO

Employee upskilling is crucial to strengthen the organization’s security posture. Join experts from Skillsoft and Security Innovation to explore the cybersecurity landscape, the importance of training, and ways to effectively ward off threats.

In this session, attendees will learn how to create a strong framework for both ethics and cybersecurity, develop effective training programs, and more.

Speakers:

  • Colleen Rudisill, Head of Strategic Alliances & Partnerships, Security Innovation
  • Okey Obudulu, Chief Information Security Officer, Skillsoft
  • Asha J. Palmer, SVP Compliance Solutions, Skillsoft
  • Mike Hendrickson, VP of Product, Skillsoft

10 Highly Rated Cybersecurity Courses

Cybersecurity professionals must keep their skills current and remain vigilant in order to ward off threats. This demands constant learning. In 2023, cybersecurity professionals rated 10 courses at Skillsoft among the best they’ve taken. See what they are in this blog post.

Skillsoft Earns the Cyber Essentials Plus Certification — What to Know

Cyber Essentials Plus is a government-backed certification promoting cybersecurity practices. Skillsoft earned this by passing a stringent assessment by a certified auditor, involving an extensive review of their IT security and policies.

In the announcement, Skillsoft’s CISO says: “Skillsoft’s commitment to cybersecurity and to bolstering the safety and integrity of our digital infrastructure is ongoing. This certification is a demonstration of that commitment, and we are proud of the work we have done to maintain our security posture and uphold a secure environment for our organization and customers.”

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5 Concerns About Using Generative AI at Work https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/5-concerns-about-using-generative-ai-at-work Thu, 28 Sep 2023 14:09:00 -0400 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/5-concerns-about-using-generative-ai-at-work
5 Consideration for All Organizations When Implementing GenAI

The emergence of generative AI (GenAI) has ushered a new era of adoption for artificial intelligence as organizations reap the benefits of incorporating the technology in numerous ways. A recent report by McKinsey & Company notes that GenAI could add from $2.6 trillion to $4.4 trillion annually to the global economy, spread across 63 business use cases.

Generative AI, though promising, is not without its flaws and risks. Many concerns revolve around security and ethical implications. The technology's ability to create highly realistic imagery, videos and written material could be used for malicious purposes, such as deepfakes or misinformation campaigns, posing threats to privacy, exploiting security vulnerabilities, and more.

Here are what organizations should consider when onboarding any generative AI tool:

Data Leaks and Exposure

Access to GenAI is a double-edged sword. While it empowers individuals to create content and perform tasks requiring specialized skills, this accessibility also raises security concerns.

For example, imagine a software developer using GenAI to check proprietary code. Not all AI chat platforms are considered secure and posting code into a chat could result in a data leak.

This highlights the need for stringent policies governing AI-powered tools. Without proper guidelines, there's a risk of inadvertently exposing confidential data and vulnerabilities of organizational systems to malicious actors.

Read Next: How to Write an AI Policy for Your Organization

Social Engineering Attacks, Phishing and Hacking

Bad actors are adept at using personal information to their advantage, and GenAI provides them with a new avenue for gathering data on prospective targets. Potentially, bad actors could employ GenAI tools to devise social engineering techniques to manipulate and deceive targets or exploit them for malicious purposes, such as generating fake reviews, impersonating individuals, or creating fraudulent documents. This could lead to identity theft, unauthorized system access, and other malicious activities.

Hackers could potentially turn GenAI's capabilities against organizations through phishing attacks. Malicious actors might manipulate GenAI systems to generate convincing phishing messages undistinguishable from legitimate communications. This highlights the importance of staying ahead of ethical hacking techniques to identify and address vulnerabilities before they can be exploited.

Free 1-hour Course:Risks and Limitations of ChatGPT by Skillsoft’s Codecademy

Privacy and Ethical Considerations

As GenAI becomes more integrated into various aspects of an organization's operations, ethical considerations become paramount.

GenAI models learn from large datasets, and if these datasets contain biased or discriminatory information, the AI can replicate and amplify those biases in its output. Proper guardrails and QA processes must be enacted to curate outputs from GenAI or at a minimum notify the user of potential pitfalls.

Organizations must be cautious about the data they feed into these models and ensure they have proper consent and mechanisms in place to protect user privacy. Mishandling sensitive data could lead to breaches, leaks, and violations of privacy regulations. Generative AI models are often considered "black boxes" because their decision-making processes are obscured or hard to understand. This lack of transparency can be problematic, especially in highly regulated industries like healthcare or finance.

Organizations must ensure the use of GenAI aligns with ethical standards and doesn't compromise user privacy or security. Striking a balance between innovation and responsible AI usage is crucial.

Read Next: Skillsoft’s New ChatGPT Courses Teach the Abilities and Limitations of AI

Job Displacement

The implementation of GenAI in certain tasks, such as content generation, could raise concerns about job displacement. However, in fields like software development, where there's already a shortage of skilled workers, GenAI can actually augment human capabilities and alleviate shortages by enabling developers to work more efficiently.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) predicts this surge in AI adoption will lead to increased demand for machine learning specialists, information security analysts, data scientists and others. While some jobs are at risk, this technology also stands to add millions of new jobs.

GenAI-generated content isn't immune to issues such as repetition, language style inconsistencies, copyright infringement and even blatant errors (also known as “hallucinations”).

To harness the full potential of GenAI, users need to provide clear and specific prompts. Proper prompt engineering is a skill that organizations and individuals need to develop to ensure desired outcomes.

Free Course: Intro to ChatGPT by Skillsoft’s Codecademy

Continuous Learning Is Key to Benefitting from AI

The integration of AI tools like GenAI will likely reshape job roles and skill requirements across industries. Professionals will need to adapt to these changes by enhancing their skills in strategic thinking, problem solving, and utilizing GenAI as a capability enhancing tool.

While GenAI presents exciting opportunities for organizations, it also brings challenges that need to be carefully navigated. By staying informed about the potential risks and benefits, organizations can make informed decisions about how to leverage GenAI tools effectively while safeguarding their security, ethics, and overall mission.

The key lies in fostering a culture of responsible GenAI adoption and continuous learning to harness the full potential of this transformative technology. By engaging with Skillsoft, your organization can make informed decisions on how to best use GenAI.

See our 90-day training roadmap to find new training on ChatGPT and generative AI, and to see what else is on the horizon.

Read Next: Our 90-Day Roadmap

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6 Essential Skills for a Career in Data Science https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/6-essential-skills-for-a-career-in-data-science Wed, 27 Sep 2023 13:42:00 -0400 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/6-essential-skills-for-a-career-in-data-science

No aspect of tech remains untouched by data. Professionals in data science, business intelligence, and similar fields are at the heart of successful strategic operations.

One of the most shocking findings from Skillsoft's C-Suite Perspective Report is that 30% of executives agree Analytics, Big Data, and Data Science are the most challenging skill areas to hire for. (See the data here.)

However, data is a broad field that requires a unique mixture of schooling, skills, and experience to excel. Finding the right path to a career in data science can be tricky, so we've compiled the top skills job seekers need to master for a successful career.

Exploring Roles in Data

To better understand what skills a data specialist requires, we'll first outline the most common roles and responsibilities a data pro can choose from. Data is a vast field with many career opportunities, each with its unique focus. The most common roles in data are:

  1. Data Analysts
  2. Data Scientists
  3. Data Engineers
  4. Data Architects

While the necessary skills for each of these vary, there are core skills that transfer down into what can only be deemed essential.

Data Analysts

An essential entry position in data, data analysts interpret data sets using statistical techniques to draw conclusions and insights that aid business decision-making. They often create visual data representations and translate complex findings into understandable charts and graphs.

What Do Data Analysts Earn on Average?

According to Glassdoor, the average salary for a data analyst in the United States is approximately $77,568 annually. However, it's important to note that this figure can fluctuate depending on factors such as level of experience, education, and geographic location. In some tech hubs like San Francisco and New York, the average salary can be much higher.


Data Scientists

Data scientists are the mathematicians of the data world, designing and constructing new data modeling and production processes. They use prototypes, algorithms, predictive models, and custom analysis. Their strong skills in statistics and algorithm development enable them to interpret data and use machine learning algorithms to predict future trends based on historical data.

What Do Data Scientists Earn on Average?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for data scientists in the United States is approximately $103,500 per year. However, it's important to note that this figure can vary depending on factors such as the level of experience, education, and geographic location. In some tech hub cities like San Francisco and New York, the average salary for Data Scientists can exceed $150,000 due to the high demand for their expertise.

Database Programmers or Engineers

Database programmers or engineers combine the skills and expertise of programming with the building and maintaining data pipelines. While data scientists use their advanced skills to model and predict future events, database programmers or engineers are the ones who implement and support systems for an efficient and secure data environment.

What Do Database Programmers Earn on Average?

The average salary for database programmers in the United States varies widely depending on factors such as years of experience, level of education, industry, and geographical location. According to Glassdoor, the average salary for a database programmer is approximately $87,944 per year. However, salaries can exceed six figures, reflecting the high demand and competitive nature of the field.

Data Architects

Data architects are responsible for designing, creating, deploying, and managing an organization's data architecture. They define how data will be stored, consumed, integrated, and managed by different data entities and IT systems, ensuring alignment with business objectives.

What Do Data Architects Earn on Average?

The average salary for data architects in the United States is quite competitive, reflecting the critical role they play in managing and leveraging an organization's data. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a data architect is approximately $112,000 per year. Notably, in major tech hubs, data architects can earn well over $150,000 due to the high demand for their skills.

The Top Skills for a Career in Data

Building these skills and fostering a mindset of continuous learning is paramount for long-term success in the data science field. As technology and data-driven business models evolve, data scientists must stay abreast of new tools, techniques, and industry trends to remain competitive and innovative.

The value of programming, statistical analysis and data visualization skills is well recognized. However, it's the consistent honing of these skills through practice, exploration, and learning that truly distinguishes successful data scientists.

Here are the skills every data scientist should have:

1. Statistical Knowledge

At the heart of data analysis is statistics. A robust statistical theory and application foundation is crucial for accurately interpreting data. An analyst must understand basic concepts such as mean, median, correlation, probability, standard deviation, and regression.

While certainly not required, data analysts find the CompTIA Data+ certification as a solid introduction to essential data analytics and business intelligence. This certification provides a reliable data foundation teaching about mining and manipulating data to visualize and apply basic and complex statistical methods.

2. Programming

A crucial skill for anyone interested in becoming a data programmer or engineer, knowing your programming languages — namely, Python, Pandas, R, or SQL — can go a long way in managing and manipulating large datasets. According to Codecademy, Python and SQL remain the among most popular programming languages in 2023.

Interest in learning more about Python? Check out our Python Courses

3. Data Wrangling

Real-world data is often messy and riddled with inconsistencies, missing values, and outliers. Data wrangling is crucial for driving insights from data and transforming raw, complex data into a structured, clean format for more accessible analysis. To be a data analyst, scientist, or architect, having the ability to clean and preprocess data for analysis is essential.

Businesses across all sectors benefit from data wrangling, enabling them to gain a competitive edge, improve operational efficiency, and make informed strategic decisions.

4. Data Visualization

Good data analysts don't just crunch numbers; they create beautiful displays and illustrations of data to tell a story.

Data visualization is a practical must for anyone working in the field. Proficiency in data visualization tools like Tableau or Power BI aid in creating compelling graphical representations of data that non-technical team members can easily understand.

Upgrade your data visualization skills today with an intro course from Codecademy.

5. Critical Thinking

Ever read Sherlock Holmes? While Sherlock and Watson may not have been designing data structures, they were historically adept at processing and analyzing the clues (data). While data analysts today aren't solving fantastical crimes, they share common critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Data analysts, scientists, and architects need to approach problems logically and develop solutions that make sense in the given context. Being adept at identifying trends, patterns, and outliers in datasets to draw meaningful conclusions from them is essential for a career in data.

Testing Your Critical Thinking Skills Today- View our Skill Benchmark Now

6. Power Skills

Data analysts must explain complex concepts and findings to stakeholders without a technical background. Practical communication skills enable data professionals to effectively convey their results clearly to all stakeholders.

Additionally, these skills foster collaboration within cross-functional teams, ensuring everyone understands and works toward the same goals. Delving further into power skills, data professionals who practice better communications can often better understand the needs of the business, customer perspectives, and market trends while translating them into actions.

In Data, The Options Are Basically Limitless

With the constant evolution of technology, possessing a habit of continuous learning is essential for data scientists to stay ahead of the curve. Continuous learning allows data scientists to not only adapt to industry changes but also anticipate and lead these changes.

The data field is complex and diverse. Each position has unique responsibilities and requires particular skills. While these essential skills are sure to ground a data pro with a solid foundation, the path to a career in data is in the hands of those who pursue it.

As businesses rely heavily on data for decision-making, the demand for skilled professionals will only grow. Whether you're just starting your career or looking to pivot into this exciting field, mastering these top skills will put you on the path to success in the dynamic world of data.

Level up your data science skills with Skillsoft's Codecademy courses - Click here to start your journey today!

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How to Develop an Ethically Sound Compliance Training Program Rooted in AI https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/how-to-develop-an-ethically-sound-compliance-training-program-rooted-in-ai Wed, 27 Sep 2023 06:27:00 -0400 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/how-to-develop-an-ethically-sound-compliance-training-program-rooted-in-ai

There are many ways that you can leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of your compliance training program. AI can help streamline training processes, personalize learning experiences, and improve overall outcomes – just to name a few of the benefits.

The best way to get started? Dive right in. According to my colleague Asha Palmer, SVP Compliance Solutions at Skillsoft:

“Inching into Generative AI and hoping that the 'water’ will get ‘warmer' or ‘easier to tolerate' is not the right answer.

We must jump in.
We must let our employees jump in.
We must let our companies jump in.”

Let’s talk about some of the ways that you might incorporate AI into your own compliance training today.

Personalized Learning Paths

Here at Skillsoft, we use AI to help deliver personalized learning through content curation, individual learning paths, skill level, and role. AI algorithms are adept at assessing learners’ strengths and weaknesses and creating personalized training paths that cater to their specific needs. In fact, by analyzing a learner’s progress and performance, AI can recommend relevant courses or modules to help them fill knowledge gaps.

Content Recommendation

A gap analysis can help compliance leaders to identify the competency, knowledge, or skills that your employees lack at any given time. AI-powered content recommendation engines can then suggest relevant compliance materials, documents, videos, or quizzes based on the learner's role, industry, and learning history.

Natural Language Processing (NLP)

NLP is often used to develop chatbots or virtual assistants that answer learner questions in real-time, providing on-demand support during training. It can also analyze and understand written compliance documents and regulations, making it easier to extract key information and updates.

Skillsoft recently announced the general availability of Skillsoft CAISY Conversation AI Simulator, a generative AI based tool for simulating business and leadership conversational skills. CAISY provides employees with a safe space to practice important business conversations by playing the role of the other person within the conversation and then providing personalized feedback.

Gamification and Engagement

AI can enhance engagement by incorporating gamification elements like leaderboards, badges, and challenges within compliance training programs.

Check out how Skillsoft is using leaderboards to power workforce transformation.

Predictive Analytics

AI can analyze historical compliance data to predict potential compliance violations or identify areas where employees are more likely to make mistakes. This can help organizations proactively address issues. Predictive analytics can also forecast future compliance training needs and recommend actions to mitigate risks.

Automation of Administrative Tasks

GenAI solutions have allowed Skillsoft to enhance our productivity and deliver better learning experiences. Our internal AI team utilizes AI to implement new features in our learning platform, and our marketing and customer success teams are actively exploring new ways in which AI-generated content can drive efficiency and increase effectiveness. We’ve also started to leverage AI to accelerate our own curriculum development.

Ethical considerations with ai-driven compliance training

While AI has plenty of applications within a compliance training program, there are some ethical considerations that must be taken into account before going “all in” on the technology.

According to Palmer, even as we dive in on GenAI, it’s likely we’ll need floaties. She said, “You must first understand the risks associated with the water: How deep is it? Do you know how to swim? Are there other hazards? Is there a lifeguard?

But once you have a good idea of the guardrails you’ll need to put in place related to GenAI within your organization, you will be ready to take on any challenges. These might include the potential for bias, the importance of transparency, and the need for human review.

Bias and Fairness

AI algorithms may inherit biases that are present in training data, potentially leading to unfair or discriminatory outcomes. Avoid this by regularly auditing your data to ensure fairness in training and assessment.

Transparency and Explainability

Transparency and openness can help promote ethical behavior and create a culture where employees are more willing to report ethical concerns. Learners and other stakeholders have a right to understand how AI algorithms make decisions or recommendations. And ensuring the transparency and explainability of AI processes can foster trust and accountability.

Consent and Opt-Out

Learners should have the option to opt out of AI-driven features if they have concerns about privacy or other ethical issues. Organizations must respect learners' choices and preferences.

Accountability

Clear lines of accountability should be established for AI-driven compliance training programs. Organizations should define who is responsible for AI system oversight, maintenance, and addressing ethical issues that may arise.

Privacy and Data Security

Privacy and security are a top concern when using any data technology. A study conducted by Cyberhaven showed that 4% of employees had pasted confidential information into ChatGPT and that 11% of all total information pasted into ChatGPT is sensitive in some way.

Team members must be aware of the sensitivity of data they are using in conjunction with GenAI systems and be aware that the submission of such data to a GenAI system could lead to a data breach.

Furthermore, data collected during AI-driven compliance training, such as learner performance data and interaction history, should be handled with care and in compliance with privacy regulations (e.g., GDPR, CCPA). Transparency in data collection and use is crucial.

Evaluation and Validation

Information accuracy is a key problem in the use of GenAI. GenAI systems are designed to create content that sounds truthful. However, there is no way for the technology to confirm that the content is actually true. This can lead to all sorts of problems.

The only way to address this issue is to fact-check the outputs of your GenAI systems. Team members should not use GenAI to create or publish content on subjects in which they do not have expertise. In cases where team members lack relevant expertise, they should:

  • Consult an expert in this area
  • Take other precautions to conduct due diligence on the outputs of the system

Copyright Infringement and Disclosure of Trade Secrets

If you are not careful with the information you share with GenAI, you may inadvertently disclose some of your organization’s trade secrets. For example, an employee submitting product information into a GenAI system to respond to an RFP is one way that trade secrets might be leaked.

Copyright issues are also a concern. If a team member asked ChatGPT to “write a blog post in the style of Oprah Winfrey” and ChatGPT used actual excerpts from things Oprah said, this would amount to plagiarism. Similarly, if a design team asked for “images in the style of Banksy” and the images were not differentiable from a Banksy painting, this might constitute theft of intellectual property.

Avoiding Discrimination

Ensure that the data used to train the AI is diverse and representative. A lack of diversity in your data can lead to AI that does not reflect the values and ethics of an organization. AI systems should not discriminate against individuals based on characteristics such as race, gender, age, or disability. Make every effort to ensure that AI algorithms do not inadvertently reinforce or amplify biases. Also keep in mind that different cultures may have varying perspectives on AI usage, data sharing, and privacy. Organizations with a global presence should consider cultural differences in their AI implementation.

Ethical Training Content

The content of compliance training programs, including AI-generated material, should adhere to ethical principles and not promote unethical behavior or discrimination.

Employee Concerns

Organizations should address employee concerns about AI in compliance training and provide channels for reporting ethical issues or violations related to AI usage.

Check out Skillsoft’s new ChatGPT courses, meant to teach the abilities and limitations of AI.

Addressing these ethical considerations is essential to create a responsible and trustworthy AI-driven compliance training program that aligns with legal requirements, ethical principles, and organizational values.

Make it a point to stay informed about evolving AI ethics guidelines and best practices so that you may adapt your training program accordingly.

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Is Your Organization Using AI? Here’s How to Do it Ethically https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/is-your-organization-using-ai-heres-how-to-do-it-ethically Tue, 26 Sep 2023 09:00:00 -0400 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/is-your-organization-using-ai-heres-how-to-do-it-ethically

Around the world, artificial intelligence (AI) technologies are rapidly expanding. Even though generative AI is only in its infancy, the cross-cultural and cross-industry use cases we envision for it can seem limitless. From chatbots and language translation to generative music and images, GenAI’s potential applications – especially as it relates to skilling and training – are certainly worth watching.

At Skillsoft, we’re proud to be at the forefront of providing AI-driven, transformative learning experiences. We have incorporated AI into our Percipio platform in meaningful ways, continually experimenting and testing so that we can innovate, learn, and share those insights with our community.

But even as we embrace AI as a tool to propel workforce transformation, we understand that we have a serious responsibility to ensure we are using AI technology in a way that is ethical and just – and extend that insight to our employees through training.

How We Use AI at Skillsoft

Before we talk about how to make sure everyone is on the same page about what is ethical, here is how we are using AI technology in our own business.

We use AI to benefit users of the platform and users who access Skillsoft content through learning management system (LMS) integrations:

  • Improve search and discovery, making it easier for learners to find what they need;
  • Link skills, roles, and learning together to guide career paths; and
  • Generate new content and curation, enabling users to assess their skills as they build confidence and understanding and to curate learning paths for trending topics automatically.

But even as we continue to innovate with AI, we deliberately keep ethics top-of-mind. We want to provide our team with the guardrails necessary to innovate, while also keeping our mission, vision, and corporate values in mind.

How to Use AI Ethically

Skillsoft’s compliance training solution now offers content related to using AI ethically within your organization. And we’ve compiled some key takeaways for you to take into account when integrating AI into your corporate strategy.

Pay Attention to Privacy Laws and Regulations

A critical piece of implementing ethical and successful compliance training initiatives is staying updated on ethical guidelines, standards, and best practices in the field. Over the past several years, there’s been an increase in legislative actions around the globe that are working to protect the privacy of individuals’ data. This has, in turn, created some complexity for companies as they strive to stay up-to-date on the newest guidelines so they can properly comply with the regulations.

That’s why it’s important to ensure that your organization’s data collection, usage practices, and training protocols are aligned with local and global privacy laws and regulations such as The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and The General Personal Data Protection Law (LGPD). Not to mention the importance of following emerging laws and regulations that may be applicable such as the first EU regulatory framework for AI or The Blueprint for the AI Bill of Rights in the United States.

Even though some of these regulations might not originate from your country of origin, if you do business in any affected locations, you are responsible for adhering to all applicable guidelines. In the absence of formal AI law or regulations, these set of laws still work to impact the business implementation of AI.

Be transparent with your employees, vendors, customers, and other stakeholders about how their data is collected, stored, and used, and implement strong data protection measures, such as encryption and access controls, to safeguard personal information.

Address Bias and Fairness

The bias that can be perpetuated by GenAI tools can have serious negative impacts on historically marginalized or vulnerable populations. These impacts are particularly harmful because they are hard to see.

Therefore, the most important thing to ensure about AI-driven compliance training is that it operates fairly, meaning that the predictive decisions that it outputs are reflective of social and legal norms around equality of opportunity, including safeguards against unsafe, inaccurate, and biased outcomes for protected classes.

Here are some specific governance practices you can implement within your organization’s compliance training initiatives:

  1. Establish a clear policy for AI fairness, accountability, and transparency that is communicated to all team members, and regularly audit and evaluate your models for potential bias, particularly regarding race, gender, or other protected attributes.
  2. Take steps to identify and mitigate biases in your compliance training, such as requiring that your generative AI systems (whether licensed or built in-house) are reviewed periodically for bias and fairness.
  3. Establish data collection, diverse model training, and ongoing monitoring to prevent biased outcomes.
  4. Institute a vetting process for outside vendors to ensure that their practices meet your company’s standards.

Raising the level of awareness across your team and applying generative AI ethically within your organization is crucial for ensuring that AI systems are used responsibly and in a manner that respects individuals’ rights, values, and societal well-being.

Instill a Culture of Continuous Education and Training

As the use of generative AI grows, so does the need to responsibly use this powerful application. Through staying up-to-date on technology-related user safety and privacy legislations, fostering a culture of ethics and responsible generative AI use, and encouraging open dialogue and a learning mindset when it comes to AI ethics, you can help change the culture around AI within your organization and successfully implement compliance training that is both effective and ethical.

By prioritizing ethics in your organization's AI-driven compliance initiatives, you can build trust, mitigate risks, and contribute to the responsible and beneficial use of generative AI technology in your company and beyond.

To learn more about how to ethically and effectively implement AI-driven compliance training into your organization, check out our other resources at www.skillsoft.com/compliance and start making a difference today.

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Need to Know Who Your High-Potentials Are? Look to Your Learning Data. https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/need-to-know-who-your-high-potentials-are-look-to-your-learning-data Mon, 25 Sep 2023 11:10:00 -0400 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/need-to-know-who-your-high-potentials-are-look-to-your-learning-data

Resumes and performance reviews don't capture all the information you need to make the best workforce transformation decisions.

When evaluating whether someone is right for a role, decision-makers have traditionally focused on historical data sources like resumes, performance appraisals, and past projects. The idea is that records of past performance are reliable indicators of future performance.

Yet past performance is far from foolproof. We've all heard stories of — or maybe even worked for — people who excelled as individual contributors, got promoted because of it, and struggled as managers.

Moving to a new role, no matter how similar it is to a previous one, will always require some new skills, even if it's just adapting to the cultural dynamics of a new team. Yet the data points we rely on to assess employees are often backward-looking. They may give us a general idea of how an employee will behave — e.g., someone with a great work ethic will bring that to every role — but they don't tell us whether the employee has all the required skills to succeed.

And in the era of workforce transformation, talent leaders need forward-looking data points more than ever. After all, the crux of workforce transformation is to turn the workforce you have into the workforce you need through upskilling and reskilling. You are, in short, changing employees' skill sets to prepare them for brand-new roles and challenges. That means records of past performance are not enough on their own to gauge which employees have the highest potential to thrive in the workplace of tomorrow.

If you want to identify your top employees and arm them with the skills they need to unleash their full potential for the benefit of your organization, you need to add some new information to your data pool. Specifically, you need to start looking at learning data.

What Makes a High-Potential Employee?

Before diving into why learning data matters, we must define a "high-potential employee." What distinguishing characteristics separate them from the rest?

Each organization will likely have some unique criteria that reflect its company culture and particular way of doing business. Still, there are some universal qualities that all high-potentials share: intent to achieve, a demonstrated capability to perform, and mastery of relevant skills.

Put another way, if you want to know whether a particular employee has high potential, you need to answer these questions about them:

  1. Do they have the intent to be a top performer? Do they show a passion for continuous improvement? Are they internally motivated to succeed?
  2. Have they demonstrated that they have the skills they need to excel in a new role?
  3. Have they achieved a level of mastery over their skills? What evidence do they have to prove this mastery?

How Traditional Data Sources Fall Short

We don't typically assess employee potential in a vacuum. Instead, we have a particular context in mind. We want to know if an employee has the potential to excel in a specific role or career path.

If the role is very close to the employee's current job — say, the move from junior developer to senior developer — then backward-looking data sources like resumes and performance reviews may tell us most of what we need to know.

Even then, we're probably missing some vital information. "Junior developer" and "senior developer" are different roles because they require at least slightly different skill sets. Historical data about an employee's performance as a junior developer may not tell us whether they've mastered those skills specific to the senior developer role. In matters of workforce transformation, there's often an even more significant difference between an employee's current and new roles. In a previous article, we used the example of transforming software engineers into data scientists. The two jobs share some essential skills, but employees still need extensive training to develop the skills they're missing. In this case, records of an employee's performance as a software engineer simply couldn't paint the whole picture needed to determine their potential as a data scientist.

Past performance data can have other shortcomings, too. It doesn’t always account for any training a worker underwent in their last role or any new skills they picked up as a result. Additionally, the performance reviews from which past performance data is drawn are typically carried out by human assessors. Those assessors’ unconscious biases can influence how they evaluate employees, leading to less-than-totally-objective performance data.

Furthermore, relying solely on backward-looking data can encourage talent leaders to develop some damaging misconceptions about employee development. The first is that long tenure correlates with advanced skills. Sometimes that may be true, but people don't automatically learn new things or improve their skills simply by sitting in the same job for a long time. They need to put in an active effort.

The second, and even more dangerous, misconception is that a person's current job predicts the limits of their capabilities — that, for example, someone with a background in HR only has the potential to excel in other HR roles. Such a thought process is incompatible with successful workforce transformation efforts, which require creativity, flexibility, and the ability to see connections between seemingly disparate career paths.

So, if records of past performance present an incomplete picture of employee potential, let's look at how adding learning data can help organizations make more intelligent workforce planning and development choices.

How Role-Based Learning Data Helps Identify High-Potential Employees

Upskilling and reskilling are the heart of workforce transformation. They're also processes that traditional data sources may fail to capture meaningfully. That's why talent leaders should incorporate data generated by the learning process into their analysis when assessing employees and making strategic workforce transformation decisions.

By considering learning data and past performance data in tandem, organizations can more fully and accurately understand employees’ skill sets. For example, a resume can list a person's certifications, and learning data can paint a picture of how those certifications were earned. The process of learning can be just as valuable as the outcomes when weighing employee potential.

And while data from any learning program can be useful, data from role-based learning initiatives can be especially valuable in evaluating employees.

As we've covered before, role-based learning is an approach to employee development where learning paths are organized by role, and employees are connected to learning opportunities based on their current roles and the roles they aspire to.

Role-based learning paths are designed to equip employees with the skills they need to excel in specific roles. So, when assessing whether an employee has the potential to succeed in a particular position, we can use their activity in a corresponding role-based learning path to answer the key questions:

1. Does the employee have the intent to be a top performer? Do they show a passion for continuous improvement? Are they internally motivated to succeed?

There is no clearer illustration of a person's intent to excel in a role than participating in a learning path designed specifically for that role. The fact that an employee is spending time on training content signals their motivation.

Furthermore, we can look at how much time an employee has spent on learning — how many minutes of content they've consumed — to help quantify their passion.

2. Has the employee demonstrated that they have the skills they need to excel in a new role?

Role-based learning paths include practical, hands-on labs and exercises where learners apply their new skills to real-world scenarios. Such active learning is better for retention, and the activities offer critical insights into how employees wield the skills they'll need for their new roles.

3. Has the employee achieved a level of mastery over their skills? What evidence do they have to prove this mastery?

The mere act of completing a role-based learning path can serve as proof of mastery in itself, as doing so requires engaging with a substantial body of knowledge and passing the requisite assessments. But learners can also earn Digital Badges or parlay their new skills and knowledge into formal certifications from authoritative bodies, adding even further proof of mastery.

Ultimately, incorporating learning data into your process for evaluating employee potential offers two benefits. First, it provides a complete picture of the employee's upskilling or reskilling journey, which is critical in assessing their ability to take on a new role.

Second, learning data enables a more agile and effective workforce transformation strategy. Records of past performance, by their nature, cannot tell us how employees will rise to new challenges they've never seen before. Conversely, role-based learning explicitly helps employees cultivate the skills they need to take on new roles. Data from these learning programs helps talent leaders identify employees who have the highest potential to thrive in the workplace of the future.

Do You Have the Data You Need to Identify High-Potential Employees?

If you're upskilling and reskilling your workforce, the process you're following to provide those additional skills matters. Learning data should inform your workforce transformation efforts.

It's worth taking some time to reflect on the data your organization currently uses to evaluate employee potential. Look at what you're collecting and how you're collecting it. Does the data pool include data from learning programs? If not, it's time to add that data.

That said, learning data is only helpful if you can easily plug that data into your HRIS or another central hub, where you can use the data alongside more traditional sources of information to make the smartest decisions about workforce planning and development. Toward that, you'll need a learning platform with powerful reporting capabilities that integrates with your existing workforce data solution.

Learn how Skillsoft's AI-powered learning platform can help you track key metrics to propel your workforce transformation strategy.

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7 Ways to Improve Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/improving-emotional-intelligence-at-work Fri, 22 Sep 2023 13:47:00 -0400 alec.olson@skillsoft.com (Alec Olson) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/improving-emotional-intelligence-at-work

In the workplace, emotional intelligence (EI) can be closely tied to the mental health of employees. By understanding and managing their emotions effectively, employees can experience improved self-esteem, life satisfaction, and overall well-being. This, in turn, can lead to enhanced productivity and job satisfaction.

It’s worth noting that emotional intelligence is not an inherent quality, but a skill that can be developed with practice and training.

This is because issues with mental health are often due to the inability to manage distressing emotions. Therefore, cultivating emotional intelligence skills can have a positive impact on mental health, reducing the prevalence of disorders and improving overall well-being in the workplace.

Understanding how to manage stress on your team and educating your entire organization on mental health best practices is one important way to improve morale and make your workplace a safe, welcoming place for all employees. And, as the world becomes increasingly complex and interconnected, the ability to navigate difficult emotions and build strong relationships will be essential.

WHAT IS EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to manage, understand and regulate emotions for oneself and help others do the same. It’s an increasingly popular skill in the workplace, especially among leaders, because of the benefits that stem from it.

“It’s a powerful tool for managing a peaceful mind,” says Martyn Newman PhD, executive chairman of RocheMartin, in this video. “It’s really one of the most profound frameworks, I think from a clinical-psychological point of view, for helping people manage and maintain happiness and their mental health.”

THE CHALLENGES TO DEVELOPING EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

The challenges that stand in the way of developing high emotional intelligence often come from within. Some struggle with self-awareness and self-management — or knowing themselves and how their emotions affect them.

Naturally, external factors also affect one’s ability to develop this skill. Learning how to interpret others’ emotions and feelings can help develop higher emotional intelligence. However, it’s not always easy to read others. Even tougher, the practice of building and maintaining healthy relationships takes time.

Specifically, people who seek to elevate their emotional intelligence run into these challenges:

  • Being open to feedback: It can be difficult to hear negative feedback about our emotions, especially if we are not used to it. However, feedback is essential for learning and growing.

  • Being open to change: Changing our emotional habits can be challenging, especially if we have been doing things the same way for a long time. However, change is necessary for growth.

  • Managing difficult emotions: Everyone experiences difficult emotions from time to time. However, people with high emotional intelligence are better able to manage these emotions in a healthy way.

  • Building strong relationships: Building and maintaining strong relationships takes time and effort. It can be challenging to find people who we connect with and who support us.

Developing and maintaining high EI can be challenging. It requires us to be open to feedback, willing to change, and able to manage difficult emotions. However, the rewards of high EI are significant. People with high EI are more likely to be successful in their careers, have healthier relationships, and live happier lives.

HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR TEAM’S EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

Improving EI in the workplace requires a commitment from your organization’s leaders, as well as careful consideration and planning. Here are some ways you might begin this journey:

  1. Raise Awareness: Conduct regular workshops or seminars to educate employees about the importance of mental health, emotional wellness, and self-care.

  2. Develop and Implement Employee Mental Health Resources: These could include online resources, mental health days, counseling services, or Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). This provides employees with the tools to manage their mental health effectively.

  3. Train Managers in Mental Health Support: Managers should be trained to recognize the signs of mental health issues and how to handle such situations sensitively. They should also promote a positive work environment that encourages open dialogue about mental health.

  4. Implement Emotional Wellness Programs: Such programs may focus on developing skills like mindfulness, empathy, resilience, and problem-solving, all of which contribute to emotional wellness.

  5. Promote Work-Life Balance: Encourage employees to take breaks, use their vacation time, and set boundaries between work and personal life. This can significantly improve their mental health and emotional well-being.

  6. Model Healthy Mental Wellness Practices: Managers can lead by example by setting work boundaries, reducing stress, and promoting a culture of respect and understanding.

  7. Provide Mental Health Training for all Employees: This training should aim to increase understanding of mental health, develop skills to manage stress and emotional challenges, and foster a supportive work environment.

Remember, it's crucial to tailor these strategies to the specific needs and contexts of your workplace. Continual evaluation and feedback are also important to ensure the effectiveness of these interventions.

As leaders strive to improve their emotional intelligence at work, Skillsoft offers several courses that teach about psychological safety, anger management and more. See the Emotional Intelligence channel here.

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Top 5 Things to Consider Before Onboarding GenAI https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/top-5-things-to-consider-before-onboarding-genai Fri, 22 Sep 2023 10:28:00 -0400 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/top-5-things-to-consider-before-onboarding-genai

Every leadership team’s worst fear is integrating a tool that makes it harder for employees to do their jobs. Technology tools are, at their core, meant to help automate existing processes and make it easier for individual contributors to thrive. This is the same for artificial intelligence (AI) tools.

We know that different variations of GenAI are and or will be embedded into our daily tasks and that it will aid our organizations. However, it is equally important not to implement a new tool without the proper research and preparation to understand how it is built and how it will be used within your organization.

Launching a new technology tool without a clear plan can lead to a lot of growing pains, accidental misuse, and fewer successful outcomes. It’s essential to analyze your organization's needs, review your technical capabilities, and assess the ability of your team to effectively use the new technology, all while staying ethical and responsible.

Now how do you apply this to GenAI? We’ve narrowed down five things to consider before onboarding GenAI into your organization's workflow.

1. Understand Your Organization’s Needs and Goals

Implementing any new GenAI tool can be a resource-intensive process, involving significant time, money, and personnel. By pinpointing the exact ways your organization plans to utilize this new tool, you can formulate a well-defined strategy tailored to achieve your organization’s objectives. Think about any current strains on your existing systems or places where GenAI could streamline everyday tasks.

Clear goals allow you to set key performance indicators (KPIs) for your tool implementation. These KPIs help measure the effects of the tools and provide insights into necessary adjustments or improvements. With defined KPIs, your business is better equipped to analyze the products in the market and pick the one that suits your specific objectives.

The process of defining needs, challenges, and goals not only ensures seamless integration of your GenAI tool of choice but also serves as a roadmap to guide your implementation, measure its effectiveness, and maximize its value to your organization.

Questions to consider:

  • How does this technology align with the organization’s overall business goals and objectives?
  • What specific problems or challenges will this technology help address?
  • Will it provide a competitive advantage or enhance customer experience?

2. Assess Technical Readiness

Once you’ve identified your organization’s needs and goals, you need to then assess your organization’s technical readiness. This assessment ensures that your existing infrastructure can support new technologies and identifies any gaps that need to be addressed.

Evaluate whether your existing hardware, software, and IT infrastructure are compatible with the tools you're considering. Without this crucial step, you risk investing in AI tools that may not integrate well with your current systems, leading to operational inefficiencies, wasted resources, and potential abandonment of the tool.

Moreover, understanding your technical readiness aids in strategic planning, helps set realistic expectations, and provides a guide for seamless integration of new GenAI tools, ultimately setting the stage for maximum return on investment.

Questions to consider:

  • Does the new technology integrate seamlessly with existing tools and systems?
  • Will there be any compatibility issues with other software or hardware in your organization’s ecosystem?
  • Does your organization have the necessary skills and talent for this implementation?

3. Selecting the Right GenAI Tool

Next is selecting the right tool to fit your defined needs. Fortunately, in the ever-evolving business climate, there are new GenAI tools being created every day.

While these advancements are exciting, not every tool is a fit for every organization. When considering what tool to implement, it’s imperative that your organization does its research. Take time to compare the different GenAI tools, frameworks and platforms available in the market. Explore the various features and advantages each tool provides to understand how they can contribute to attaining your business objectives. Take into account elements like ease of integration, options for customization, scalability potential, customer support and cost.

This upfront research can prevent unnecessary costs, save time, enhance operational efficiency, and significantly contribute to the successful adoption and implementation of any GenAI tool.

Questions to consider:

  • Has your organization thoroughly researched and evaluated potential vendors' solutions?
  • What is the reputation and track record of the vendor?
  • Are there references or case studies from other organizations that have successfully implemented the same technology?

4. Ethical and Responsible Implementation

Arguably one of the more important factors when onboarding GenAI is your organization's ethical and responsible use of it. Understanding ethical implications is paramount as AI use and decisions can significantly impact individuals and your organization. Establishing an ethical framework provides guidance on how AI should be used responsibly and ethically, respecting human rights, privacy, and fairness, to name a few.

Your organization will also want to take steps to identify and mitigate biases in your AI systems. A common use for AI is to screen resumes, so prioritizing regular auditing and evaluation of your tools for potential bias, particularly with regard to race, gender, or other protected attributes. Human oversight and accountability are crucial to ensure that humans remain in control of AI systems and are held accountable for their outcomes.

Lastly, continuous education and training to ensure that employees stay up to date with AI developments and use the technology effectively and ethically. These considerations help ensure that AI is used in a way that benefits the organization while also respecting ethical norms.

Questions to consider:

  • What data set is the GenAI tool trained on? How does the vendor mitigate the risks of that data set?
  • How is bias mitigated in the GenAI tool? Are there public facing accountability metrics the vendor is accountable to?
  • How will the new technology handle and store sensitive data? What security measures are in place?
  • Does the technology comply with relevant data protection regulations and industry standards?
  • Are there any potential intellectual property or licensing issues to address?

5. Employee Training & Adoption

Training your team to proficiently and securely utilize GenAI tools is paramount to any successful implementation. Proper training ensures that your team understands the potential of these tools while adhering to best practices, safeguarding data and information integrity, and minimizing risks.

This means providing policies and resources to help users become proficient in interacting with GenAI models. Training can cover practical usage scenarios, enabling users to effectively navigate and operate the tool. Additionally, instruction on data input requirements, output interpretations, and troubleshooting should be provided. Given the importance of data security, training must emphasize proper data handling, encryption protocols, and compliance with privacy regulations.

Through comprehensive training, your team will be well-equipped to harness the capabilities of the GenAI tool and ensure a smooth adoption process and guarantee that GenAI technologies are properly utilized.

Questions to consider:

  • How will you ensure that employees are adequately trained to use the new technology effectively?
  • What strategies will you employ to encourage user adoption and overcome potential resistance to change?
  • Are there user-friendly interfaces and support resources available?

Embracing GenAI tools with a thoughtful and strategic approach holds immense promise for organizations. By harnessing the power of AI, businesses can become more efficient, better integrate data-driven insights and employ innovative solutions. The judicious integration of GenAI can streamline operations, enhance decision-making and truly catalyze your organization's growth. Through effective preparation, your organization can preempt obstacles during the implementation process and successfully achieve your objectives with ease.

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Learning How to Have Crucial Conversations with Skillsoft Coach Michael Oon https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/learning-how-to-have-crucial-conversations-with-skillsoft-coach-michael-oon Tue, 19 Sep 2023 09:00:00 -0400 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/learning-how-to-have-crucial-conversations-with-skillsoft-coach-michael-oon

Effective communication is the cornerstone of any successful workplace. In fact, crucial conversations play a vital role in fostering understanding, collaboration, and growth among team members. These conversations, which often cover challenging topics, require a high level of skill to navigate successfully.

Coaching has emerged as a powerful tool in helping individual contributors lead through crucial conversations. By developing rapport with their coach, individuals can become more self-aware and reflective, enabling them to better understand their own communication style and best practices when approaching a tough conversation.

Take a peek at Skillsoft’s Coaching solution to see how our exceptional coaches can help your employees gain the skill set they need to have those critical conversations.

Meet Skillsoft Coach Michael Oon

Michael brings 30 years of experience to his coaches, inspiring individuals and teams to reach new heights. As a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF), Michael excels in empowering individuals to navigate crucial conversations with ease.

Drawing from a diverse background, Michael possesses a deep understanding of industries ranging from software and services, financial services, food and beverage, insurance, retail, healthcare, technology, and education to non-profit sectors. Michael has 2,000 hours of coaching experience under his belt and is prepared to help his clients conquer their unique challenges and achieve their goals.

We had the pleasure of asking Michael a few questions to gain insight into his coaching philosophy and why coaching is an impactful training tool.

Skillsoft:Can you provide an overview of your coaching philosophy and approach?

Michael Oon: I believe every person has the ability to grow their capability to develop creative solutions. My approach with any client is to start by asking pertinent questions that help them search within themselves for solutions. When these are fully exhausted and they still can't come up with a solution, I will then frontload some ideas that will help seed their thinking towards the answers they are seeking.

How do you support learners in developing their leadership skills and enhancing their professional growth?

I help them with:

  • Increasing their self-awareness
  • Learning how to use other resources as opposed to trying to do everything by themselves
  • Listening more effectively and developing different perspectives to a situation
  • Influencing their colleagues to deliver results
  • Pursuing a bigger vision for themselves
  • Being proactive in developing themselves

Having had 30 years of leadership experience in the corporate world, I will share some of my learnings to help them along – I only do this when they have fully exhausted themselves and are not able to offer a solution. I offer myself as their sounding board so they can brainstorm their thoughts and ideas with me in a safe environment. Above all, I always find something in them so I can give encouragement and cheer them on.

Can you share any success stories or case studies from your previous coaching engagements?

One client was so inundated with work that she had no time for herself. She often took on work from her subordinates and would do work after hours during the weekdays and most weekends. Through my coaching, she's developed the skills and gained courage in initiating difficult conversations with her subordinates and has most of their work delegated back. In my last session with her, she said she has now joined a Zumba class on Wednesday nights and has also signed up for a photography course.

I recently received feedback from the Head of a Department at a Fortune 500 organization that she was petrified of having a confrontation with her Line Manager as he has quite a strong personality. I coached her on how to approach and engage this certain personality type and to use specific crucial conversational techniques. When the video camera was turned on at our last session, I saw a big smile on her face.

She's also managed to work through a sticky issue with her boss. He apologized and asked her to thank her coach for helping her with the problem. The situation has increased his awareness of his lack of empathy towards her and her staff.

What do you believe is the benefit to scaling leadership capabilities across the organization through coaching?

I believe coaching is the most effective way to get as many people as possible on board with a common vision and compel them to act towards a shared goal.

Coaching takes away the “Command and Control” element of traditional leadership. It engages the hearts and minds of employees. Leaders who are coached are more self-aware, more intentional in developing their own leadership skills; they are more empathetic and engaging.

Coaching leaders helps them shape the culture of their teams and work environments. It jogs their memories on what's missing, what's bad, and what's good – so they can in turn coach their team members to own and improve their workplace culture.

How do you stay updated with the latest trends and developments in leadership and coaching?

I use ICF as main resource for developing my knowledge in leadership development. I also meet regularly with other leadership coaches based in Brisbane and pick their brains from time to time. I prepare new material for group coaching locally. I also research what's the latest on the internet to generate these learning resources.

Interested in becoming a Skillsoft Coach?

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The Algorithm Isn't Perfect: 4 Best Practices for Combating Bias in Generative AI https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/the-algorithm-isnt-perfect-4-best-practices-for-combating-bias-in-generative-ai Fri, 15 Sep 2023 06:30:00 -0400 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/the-algorithm-isnt-perfect-4-best-practices-for-combating-bias-in-generative-ai

Before businesses can reap the rewards of advanced AI, they must wrestle with the ways it reproduces harmful human biases.

For some organizations, generative AI (GenAI) tools like ChatGPT and DALL-E represent exciting new possibilities. In a recent report from McKinsey, a third of respondents said their organizations use GenAI regularly, and 40 percent said they plan to increase investments in the technology.

But as those numbers make clear, not everyone is on board with GenAI just yet. Major brands like Apple, Verizon, and JPMorgan Chase have restricted GenAI's use or banned it outright. Many of these businesses are hesitating because of the thorny questions surrounding ownership of AI-generated content, the reliability of AI assertions, and — our topic today — the potential for bias.

Shortly after ChatGPT's public debut, academics raised alarms about the chatbot's penchant for producing biased outputs, like some dubious "algorithms" that determined only white and Asian men make good scientists. A Bloomberg investigation found that the AI image-generator Stable Diffusion was more likely to represent women and people of color as working low-paying jobs.

While OpenAI and Stability AI — the organizations behind ChatGPT and Stable Diffusion, respectively — have responded by redoubling their efforts to strike bias from their models, discriminatory AIs aren't exactly a new problem. Back in 2018, for example, Amazon discontinued an AI hiring tool because it gave preferential treatment to male candidates.

This isn't to say GenAI is all bad. Indeed, AI could add as much as $4.4 trillion to the world economy by supercharging productivity. But if organizations are to reap the benefits of GenAI, they'll need to take a strategic approach to managing biased outputs and other risks.

The first step is understanding why AI can discriminate in the first place.

How an AI Becomes Biased

In the popular imagination, the term "artificial intelligence" conjures images of characters like Star Trek's Data, a sentient being of pure rationality. Real-life AIs are much less fantastical. Simply put, they're complex algorithms trained on massive amounts of data. They don't "think" so much as programmatically predict what they should do.

Take ChatGPT, for example. This large language model is trained on a corpus of more than 300 billion words, resulting in what is essentially the world's most sophisticated autocomplete system. When a user prompts ChatGPT to generate some text, all the chatbot does is guess the words it should string together based on all the data it has ingested. Because ChatGPT has been fed so much text, it's strikingly good at guessing correctly.

All the data used to train AIs has to come from somewhere, and by and large, it comes from people: the books we've written, the blogs we've published, the tweets we've posted. People, of course, aren't perfect. We have biases, conscious and unconscious, and these biases pop up in the things we write. When our biased writings get fed to the AI, it picks up those biases.

The AIs aren't biased per se. Instead, the bias appears in the data used to train the AIs. The simple solution is to stop using biased data, right?

AI developers are hard at work on that mission, but that's easier said than done. Given the sheer quantities of data the AIs require, it's easy for biased content to sneak in. Furthermore, we humans can be pretty bad at spotting our own unconscious biases, which means we may not always notice the biases in our AI training data.

Why Biased AI Is Bad for Business

By now, the adverse effects of bias on organizational performance are well established. Employee engagement falls, cultures become toxic while innovation stalls, and profitability plummets. Candidates and consumers avoid doing business with biased companies. Finally, discrimination can have legal ramifications, like lawsuits, fines, and regulatory actions.

When bias appears in AI output, it poses many of the same problems. It may even undermine the very purpose the technology serves. Take the story of Amazon's AI hiring algorithm mentioned earlier. In that instance, a tool designed to help the business hire stronger candidates actually made the talent pool weaker by needlessly discounting women.

Because AI is often seen as more objective than a human counterpart, people may implicitly trust its decisions and the content it produces. The AI receives less scrutiny than a human employee would, making it easier for biases to fester.

Here's a thought experiment: When a human author writes a blog post, it usually passes through at least one additional set of eyes — an editor, a colleague — before it goes live. A blog produced by ChatGPT, on the other hand, may only be quickly skimmed by the person who prompted it. If the human author's blog contains any unconscious bias, other human readers can catch that bias before the post is published. If ChatGPT's post contains bias, the prompter may not notice before it's too late.

AIs can also suffer from a snowball effect, where previous biased output is fed back into the AI as new training data. This reinforces and intensifies the bias in the algorithm, making the problem worse over time.

As government agencies like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ramp up investigations into business uses of AI, companies need to be especially careful about bias. Blaming it on the algorithm won't get your business off the hook.

Best Practices for Minimizing Bias in Generative AI

When it comes to ethical matters like bias, businesses often look to the law for guidance. Unfortunately, companies can't do that with GenAI just yet. The technology is so new that the regulators are still playing catch-up.

The European Union passed the Artificial Intelligence Act in June 2023, but the finer details are still being ironed out. Lawmakers and citizens alike are hungry for regulation in the U.S., but industry experts are skeptical of Congress's ability to take action any time soon.

This leaves businesses in a difficult position. If they wait for the authorities to issue concrete guidelines, their competitors may get a head start on leveraging GenAI. If they forge ahead with AI in the absence of official rulings, they risk running afoul of regulators as the landscape evolves.

The good news is that there are ways to minimizethe risks of bias in generative AI. By following these best practices, businesses can avail themselves of AI's benefits while avoiding many of its pitfalls.

1. Ensure That People Truly Understand AI and Its Use Cases

Part of the problem is that, as outlined above, many people don't understand how AI works. As a result, they're overconfident about what it can do and don't know the potential problems they must look out for.

On the other hand, if employees know how AI works and its common shortcomings, they can be more careful about how they use it and more vigilant in checking for bias when they do.

In general, training can be a powerful way to nurture a culture of compliance, and that's no different when it comes to AI. Comprehensive training can help employees master core concepts like when AI is appropriate, how to get the best results, and how to check for bias and other issues. Because AI technology will continue advancing rapidly for the foreseeable future, it's best if employees have access to ongoing training.

2. Do Your Due Diligence

When a process is handled manually, a certain amount of due diligence is built right in. Take content creation as an example: If you're conducting research and writing an article yourself, you know whether you're violating copyright or making things up.

AI can automate these organizational processes, unleashing new levels of productivity. But a human still needs to be there to ensure the output is accurate, original, and unbiased.

Organizations should establish formal processes to ensure that all AI output — from marketing collateral to internal spreadsheets — is reviewed by the right people. The process should involve relevant subject matter experts from across the organization and create an audit trail to track outcomes.

Taking a step back, organizations also need due diligence when deciding how to use GenAI. Much like the process of reviewing AI output, companies need a process to review and approve GenAI use cases before employees implement the technology in their day-to-day roles. That way, the business can ensure that AI is only used appropriately and people aren't delegating tasks that humans should handle.

3. Audit Your AI Model

Since bias sneaks in at the level of the training data, organizations need to periodically audit their AI models to ensure they only ingest high-quality data. Audit teams should involve a mix of stakeholders — from IT leaders to compliance officers to everyday users — to capture a range of perspectives.

If the AI is developed in-house, audits should also evaluate the company's adherence to any laws, like the GDPR and HIPAA, that may apply to the training data.

If an external vendor maintains the AI, the audit team must work closely with that vendor to gain the necessary insight into the model. Some AI vendors are hesitant to let customers look under the hood. To effectively fight bias, organizations may want to partner only with vendors committed to transparency.

4. Create a Generative AI policy

Organizations can develop and disseminate these best practices by drafting formal generative AI policies. These policies define how employees can use AI within the organization's unique context. A robust GenAI policy should cover ethical usage, bias and fairness standards, compliance requirements, and other critical guidelines and guardrails.

Don't Shy Away From AI

While there remain many questions we, as a society, need to answer about generative AI, businesses can start using the technology today to fuel innovation and efficiency. The key is to implement AI with your eyes open — that is, to understand how AI works and the risks it brings. As long as business leaders and everyday users do their due diligence, bias can be minimized while benefits are maximized.

Interested in leveraging AI in your business? Skillsoft's new ChatGPT courses can help your employees master the technology while understanding its limitations.

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Meet Skillsoft CAISY Conversation AI Simulator: Your Organization’s New Best Friend in Business Communication https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/how-practice-makes-perfect-with-skillsofts-caisy-conversation-ai-simulator Thu, 14 Sep 2023 08:05:00 -0400 Sumithra.Appalabottula@sumtotalsystems.com (Sumithra Appalabottula) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/how-practice-makes-perfect-with-skillsofts-caisy-conversation-ai-simulator

Communication will always be the key to business success, no matter the role. Important business conversations are part of not only individual career growth, but organizational success. From new managers giving a performance review for the first time, to sales leaders looking to equip a field team to pitch a new product, every employee needs to learn how to communicate with their peers, direct reports, and leadership team to achieve their business results.

These business conversations may change as employees progress in their career, but the common denominator will always be the ability to communicate effectively. It is a timeless skill that every employee needs to consistently nurture as they move from role to role, or up the chain of command - whether it comes naturally or not. Where organizations have traditionally missed the mark is by providing employees with a low-stakes way to practice, build and retain those skills before applying them to real-world conversations.

So, where can businesses start?

Introducing Skillsoft CAISY™ Conversation AI Simulator

More than a tool, CAISY is a valuable resource, a powerful ally, and your team's new work best friend.

We are excited to announce the general availability of Skillsoft CAISY Conversation AI Simulator, an innovative generative AI based tool for simulating business and leadership conversational skills. CAISY makes those difficult work conversations easier, by providing employees with an emotionally safe space to practice important business conversations with an AI-powered trainer. CAISY not only plays the role of the other person within the conversation but also provides personalized feedback and guidance on communication style to guide development.

Check out our CAISY demo!


Scenario-based practice is best when it’s designed to mimic real-life situations, and CAISY does just that, making communication more natural when it comes time to handle those difficult conversations. If a customer representative is looking to practice handling difficult interactions without the risk of losing customers, or a product leader wants to role play a product launch decision with a stakeholder CAISY is the perfect resource.

CAISY can help you practice these difficult conversations:

  • Coaching an absent employee
  • Change management
  • Cultivating empathy and connection
  • Leading through change
  • Product launch decision
  • Sales motion
  • PR Scandal
  • Customer service – irate customer
  • Customer service – refund request
  • Nurturing your own wellbeing

More scenarios will be added in the coming weeks and months.

Organizations need a way to help all of their employees develop the communication skills they need to achieve their business objectives through the art of practice. Yet, designing these transformative learning experiences is often challenging and ineffective. Through experiential, active learning like CAISY, organizations can prepare employees across the business to achieve sustainable change through behaviors and actions. This will allow businesses to build effective leaders that directly impact business outcomes and ensure better retention of learning.

“Skillsoft’s CAISY is the breakthrough technology for leadership development that organizations have been waiting for. It's the most progressive advancement I've seen to date. Skillsoft has effectively combined the on-demand support of a virtual assistant with leadership and management training to create a transformational new way of building interpersonal skills.”

– Chief Strategy Officer and Principal Analyst at Brandon Hall Group

The Value of Practice through Simulated Scenarios

Create a Safe, Trusted Practice Environment

With CAISY, employees are able to practice in an environment where it’s okay to make mistakes. Through the replication of real-world scenarios, learners can ask questions, make requests, and receive real-time responses, without the fear of getting it wrong. CAISY allows employees the time and ability to practice with the appropriate feedback and guidance that gives them the confidence to lead those difficult conversations when it matters.

Make Relevant, Engaging Learning Experiences

Depending on one’s role and level, the important conversations that will be needed will vary. CAISY allows learners to choose the workplace scenarios that work best for them, spanning management, sales customer success, product development and more. This allows employees to understand their specific strengths and weaknesses by tailoring their practice to the situations that make most sense to them, in their typical business speak.

Build Agility

We all know that conversations are never linear. There are a variety of ways that they can happen, depending on who they’re with. CAISY enables learners to practice in real-time using varied scenarios, via text or verbally, and therefore forces them to think on their feet to respond in the moment, just like they would in a real conversation.

Real-Time Actionable Feedback

And lastly, the feedback, guidance and conversational experiences that learners will have with the AI trainer is unmatched. Learners have the option of going through the conversation in either practice mode or role model mode. In practice mode, the learner plays themselves in the conversation, whereas in role model mode, the learner has the ability to see how the AI trainer would handle the conversation. Not only does CAISY hold the mock conversations, but it provides top-of-the-line advice and instruction on how to optimize the conversation next time. Therefore, the learner can see what they did well and suggestions for improvement.

Skillsoft’s CAISY™ Conversation AI Simulator

How It Works Behind the Scenes

CAISY uses generative AI in an ethical and responsible way through the implementation of appropriate guardrails, widely recognized as important for AI systems like ChatGPT. These additional security layers help to mitigate biases in training data, promote fairness, reduce the spread of false information, and prevent offensive or inappropriate responses through the conversations that learners have with the AI trainers.

Every time a conversational scenario takes place, the system is monitoring for abuse, correct context, and scenario accuracy. For example, if a learner were to initiate an off-topic or inappropriate conversation with CAISY, the simulation would guide the learner to only make appropriate statements. The learner can then resume or restart the conversation. Striking this balance is crucial to avoid overly restrictive measures while maintaining responsible deployment.

CAISY combines practice and role modeling scenarios to help individuals develop these critical power skills for success. It utilizes Skillsoft’s proprietary architecture integrated with generative AI as the underlying engine, with D-ID being utilized for the text-to-video introduction and adversary image.

Get Started Today

Prepare your employees to have effective business conversations that drive positive behavioral change. If you are interested in learning more and becoming a CAISY user, please email us at AI@skillsoft.com. And to learn more about Skillsoft’s Leadership and Business solution portfolio, visit skillsoft.com/leadership-and-business-skills.


Skillsoft courses are intended to guide and incorporate best practices that derive maximized value from the use of artificial intelligence. They are not intended to endorse or advocate for the methodologies, tools, or outcomes of the artificial intelligence tools referred to or utilized.

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Skillsoft’s Framework for AI Transformation https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/skillsofts-framework-for-ai-transformation Thu, 14 Sep 2023 07:00:00 -0400 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/skillsofts-framework-for-ai-transformation

In today's fast-paced and volatile environment, businesses are facing a multitude of challenges. The workforce is stretched thin, with demands increasing on constrained resources. Moreover, there are sustained gaps in both tech and power skills, making it difficult for organizations to keep up with the evolving landscape. With constant pressure to remain competitive, companies must find innovative solutions to overcome these obstacles. Rapid advancements in Generative AI have opened up a range of applications that could fundamentally shift this dynamic and propel future economic growth.

AI offers a promising approach to address these problems by automating tasks, augmenting human capabilities, and enabling organizations to adapt swiftly to change. By leveraging AI, businesses can optimize productivity, bridge skills gaps, and effectively navigate the competitive landscape, ensuring long-term success and growth.

With the emergence of generative AI, companies will need to reimagine their skilling and talent initiatives. The World Economic Forum estimates that there will be nearly a 5x acceleration in adoption from five years prior. Breakthrough AI innovations, such as ChatGPT and Google BARD, offer conversational and content generation capabilities that will redefine the very fabric of the global workforce. This is particularly true when it comes to the ways we communicate, learn, and work. In fact, OpenAI predicts that at least 80% of all jobs, especially those of knowledge workers, will be influenced, changed, or augmented by GenAI.

Despite these projections, there exists today a wide AI skills gap. There aren’t enough AI and machine learning specialists available today, creating intense demand for professionals with these skills. What’s more, given the nascence of GenAI tools and platforms, many more will need training to not only adopt the technology, but understand the best ways to apply it.

So the question is, where do we go from here? How can organizations transform to capitalize on the disruption? Organizations must consider; the technical skills required to utilize the technology, the human skills to mobilize the organization and sustain progress, and the ethical and governance skills to responsibly leverage the technology to the benefit of society.

Skillsoft has 25 years of experience in helping organizations navigate seismic skill transformations, and we have drawn upon this experience to formulate a model for AI skills transformation.

Learn more about Skillsoft’s AI-Focused Solutions

Skillsoft’s AI Model for Skills Transformation

Skillsoft’s AI model for skill transformation prescribes a comprehensive and seamless pathway for any organization to achieve a range of performance outcomes, from Literacy to Mastery, via a blend of modalities. It includes a blueprint for the curricula, a forward-looking vision on how digital learning is reimagined, and perspective on how we work together in developing the next-generation of learning solutions.

This model prescribes four levels of proficiency through a range of instructional solutions:

  • Literacy – A core skills curriculum aligning the front line to the C-suite on the foundations, guardrails, responsible application, and leadership skills for AI.
  • Competency – A blend of technology, power skills, and compliance content to develop a robust understanding of topics, ranging from prompt engineering through ChatGPT, to the legal consideration of emerging regulations.
  • Proficiency – Hands-on, interactive courses and labs that enable learners to apply the technology in real-time.
  • Mastery – Instructor-led programs to certify learners on critical technologies and bring teams together to collaborate on different applications of the technology.

By aligning these learning experiences with the desired performance outcome based on audience and job role, we improve the overall AI "maturity level" and workforce capability of the enterprise. Skillsoft’s unique portfolio of digital courses, books, labs, interactive content, instructor-led curricula and coaching, enable the company to effectuate this transformation at scale, via our intelligent, AI-drive skilling platform.

Ultimately, we believe with the correct application and training, GenAI will impact: what we learn through the curriculum and skills we focus on; how we learn by leveraging the immersive capabilities of GenAI; and how we work to realize the greatest benefits of the technology.

Let’s keep exploring this idea.

1. What We Learn

With any emerging technology comes the need for awareness and education across multiple levels and functions of the enterprise. It is the responsibility of the organization to ensure their employees are trained on the most relevant, in-demand skills across all aspects of AI to help businesses grow.

Not only do employees need to learn the appropriate AI skills, but they need to learn how to collaborate with AI technology to augment their human intelligence. Now more than ever, businesses need a blend of both the tech and human skills to effectively navigate this disruption. By pairing AI technology with creativity, communication, problem-solving, critical thinking, and collaboration, employees will be empowered to do more meaningful work.

From a learning and development perspective, this means having an AI curriculum with a foundation centered around awareness, education, and skill-building.

The curriculum should educate the workforce on the potential impact of AI in their day-to-day jobs, and the opportunities to leverage AI for their everyday work. It should build a common language and shared understanding across the organization of what GenAI is, while equipping your team members to use it responsibly and effectively.

At Skillsoft, we are helping to transform the way in which employees learn about and collaborate with AI through our content. The release and development of our new Skillsoft Aspire Journeys - multi-modal learning paths designed to promote subject literacy from the front line to the c-suite. Skillsoft’s course content covers a wide range of topics, ranging from “Generative AI Foundations and Guardrails” to “AI and ML for Decision-Makers,” with other content focused on reimagining work, leading with transformation, and the human skills to sustain an AI transformation. Our newly-released Enterprise Literacy for Generative AI Aspire Journey consists of courses focused on: Foundations of Generative AI, Responsible Applications and Guardrails for Generative AI, Reimagining Work with Generative AI, Leading an AI Transformation, and Human Skills to Sustain an AI Transformation.

These Journeys are designed to equip learners with a solid understanding of the core principles needed to responsibly and effectively use, build, and experiment with generative AI. By exploring these courses, learners will gain the necessary knowledge to reimagine work across various functions. And, with Skillsoft's newly enhanced curriculum of ethical AI courses, learners and business leaders are empowered to not only grasp the widespread applications and advantages of AI but also deepen their knowledge about the potential biases associated with this technology.

But first, in order to assess skill gaps and recommend AI skilling areas, Skillsoft has developed new Skill Benchmarks specially designed for generative AI. These benchmarks evaluate learners' proficiency and knowledge in areas such as the principles of the technology, responsible usage, and its impact on work. Additionally, they assess engineering capabilities in ChatGPT. Based on the assessment results, learners are assigned a score and level, ranging from Novice to Advanced. This personalized approach enables learners to receive tailored recommendations for further learning, allowing them to deepen their skillsets and progress from AI literacy to mastery. Ultimately, this targeted learning approach helps bridge skills gaps within businesses.

2. How We Learn

The rich and immersive capabilities of GenAI are giving rise to the next generation of learning experiences, which allow learners to engage with training like never before. We believe that these types of transformative learning experiences more effectively assess employees’ aptitude while immersing them into programs that provide opportunities to apply their knowledge.

Skillsoft’s integrated methodology for skill transformation follows this basic model:

  • Benchmark: Index capabilities to understand the skills gap and recommend learning.
  • Instruct: Convey concepts through immersive, self-paced training with practice exercises.
  • Collaborate: Foster an exchange of ideas and concepts through live events and cohort interactions.
  • Apply: Practice skills in realistic scenarios with an interactive curriculum.
  • Perform: Coach leaders to ensure the new business approaches take root.

Throughout this Journey, Skillsoft uses AI to help deliver personalized learning through content curation, individual learning paths, skill level, and role. It helps to improve discoverability, accessibility, and localization through automated captions and descriptions.

However, the most transformative breakthrough that GenAI can create is with interactive environments. This interactivity helps learners to practice and apply critical skills, like a new manager having difficult conversations, through realistic and relevant scenario-based learning.

Skillsoft CAISY™ Conversation AI Simulator is an innovative GenAI application that simulates business and leadership interactions. Skillsoft CAISY allows employees to practice business interactions in an emotionally safe space, which would otherwise only be possible through live role-play discussions.

Learners can navigate these scenarios as they would in real-life. Skillsoft CAISY not only plays the role of the other person within the conversation but also provides personalized feedback and guidance on communication style. This experience features virtual characters that have been designed to mimic the personality and emotive characteristics of employees via large language models (LLMs). AI-powered tools such as Skillsoft CAISY will play an increasing important role in generating these new skills at scale.

3. How We Work

AI will help bridge the skills and talent gap in the workplace and will help to guide us in our own development. But its impact does not stop there. It will become an extension of us by assisting with a range of everyday tasks that will amount to a tremendous impact on productivity.

Skillsoft is leading by example as we look for new ways to incorporate GenAI into how we work. GenAI solutions have allowed all of our departments to enhance their productivity and deliver better learning experiences.

Our internal AI team utilizes these toolsets to implement new features in our learning platform, and our marketing and customer success teams are actively exploring new ways in which AI-generated content can drive efficiency and increase effectiveness. We’ve also started to leverage AI to accelerate our own curriculum development.

Most importantly, we are taking steps to understand the potential ethical concerns of using generative AI, including implementing internal guidelines and policies. (Read how to write an AI policy of your own here.)

With the Right Education, Everyone Wins

Drawing from our experience applying GenAI and our understanding of the potential pitfalls of this disruptive technology, we can ensure our teams understand the critical need to use these tools efficiently, effectively, and ethically to best serve our customers, partners, employees, and those who benefit from what we do.

GenAI will be transformative for organizations of all kinds. It will allow people to think differently about the way they work, the skills they need to succeed, and the way in which they learn. And when armed with the right education, everyone wins.

To read more about new courses, Aspire Journeys, and training on generative AI, ChatGPT and related topics, check these resources:

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Pursuing Personal – and Professional – Wellness https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/pursuing-personal-and-professional-wellness Tue, 12 Sep 2023 16:30:00 -0400 alec.olson@skillsoft.com (Alec Olson) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/pursuing-personal-and-professional-wellness

Once viewed primarily as a space for productivity, the workplace has evolved into an environment where holistic well-being needs to be a cornerstone. After all, it's where we spend a significant portion of our lives, where we pursue our ambitions, and where we seek our purpose.

That’s why a recent out-of-office email reply from a colleague captured my attention. The automatic email was full of apologies – for being out of the office, for not responding immediately, for taking some time away. I was puzzled, to be honest; I wondered why this person felt the need to apologize so profusely.

Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common reflection of our current workplace culture, which often demands that employees be available 24/7. This can create a lot of stress and anxiety, as people feel like they must be always “on.”

Most organizations understand that employees’ mental and physical health is essential to their success. But it can be easy to neglect wellness when we’re juggling the demands of work, family, and personal commitments. That's why it's so important to make time for self-care.

From the subtle changes in our daily routines to the overarching culture of our workplaces, self-care leaves an indelible mark on the way we function, innovate, and thrive in today's demanding world.

Making Time for Self-care

Beyond the mental and physical health initiatives your organization may offer its employees, you must prioritize taking care of your physical, mental, and emotional health. Not only will this help you stay sharp, focused, and productive, but it will also reduce your risk of burnout, stress, and anxiety.

Here are a few tips for making time for self-care:

  • Set boundaries. It's important to set boundaries between your work life and your personal life. This means not checking work emails or taking work calls outside of work hours. It also means taking breaks throughout the day to relax and recharge.
  • Get enough sleep. When you're well-rested, you're better able to handle stress and make sound decisions. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Eating healthy foods gives you the energy you need to power through your day. Focus on eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercise is a great way to reduce stress, improve your mood, and boost your energy levels. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.
  • Spend time with loved ones. Social support is important for your mental and emotional health. Make time for activities that you enjoy with friends and family.
  • Take time for yourself. This could mean reading a book, taking a bath, or going for a walk. Whatever you do, make sure it's something that you enjoy and that helps you relax and de-stress.

Taking care of your wellness and mental health is an investment in your future success. By making time for self-care, you'll be better able to handle the challenges of work and life, and you'll be more likely to achieve your goals.

Creating Space For Employees To Prioritize Self-Care

In addition to the tips above, here are a few specific things that leaders can do to promote wellness and mental health in their workplace:

  • Create a culture of psychological safety. Encourage your team to present their true selves at work, without fear of negative consequences. When there's a high level of psychological safety in your organization, there is a culture of inclusion. People feel safe to speak up, to offer ideas, and to ask questions.
  • Offer mental health resources. This could include providing access to counseling services, mindfulness classes, or stress-management workshops.
  • Make sure employees have access to healthy food options. This could mean providing healthy snacks in the break room or offering discounts at local gyms.
  • Encourage employees to take breaks. It's important for employees to take breaks throughout the day to avoid burnout.
  • Set a good example. As a leader, it's important to model healthy behaviors. This means taking care of your own physical and mental health and setting a good example for your employees.

By taking these steps, leaders can help to create a healthier and more supportive workplace for everyone. However, it is not always easy to prioritize yourself and self-care when there are competing priorities and multiple deadlines, but consider this:

  • Wellness is contagious. When you take care of yourself, you set a positive example for your employees. This can help to create a healthier and more productive workplace.
  • Wellness is essential for resilience. As a leader, you will inevitably face challenges. When you are well, you are better able to cope with stress and adversity.
  • Wellness is a journey, not a destination. It takes time and effort to maintain a healthy lifestyle. But it is worth it, for your own sake and for the sake of your team.

Write Better Out-of-Office Messages

Now if you are still not sure what to write in your out-of-office reply message, here are some funny inspirations so you do not feel too guilty about being away:

  • I’ll get back to you when I return to civilization.
  • I know I’m supposed to say that I’ll have limited access to email, but...
  • The bad news is that I’m out of office. The good news is that I’m out of office.
  • I am currently out of the office and probably chilling on the beach. Enjoy your work week.

As our professional lives become increasingly demanding and fast-paced, the need for a holistic approach to well-being has never been more critical. By fostering a culture that values self-care, organizations can not only empower their employees to thrive but also reap the rewards of a more engaged, loyal, and innovative workforce.

But remember that self-care is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It encompasses a spectrum of practices and approaches, and it should be tailored to individual needs and preferences. The responsibility for nurturing self-care within the workplace doesn’t rest solely with management; it is a collective endeavor that requires commitment and cooperation at all levels.

Prioritizing self-care as an essential component of our professional lives enables us to create workplaces where “well-being” is not just a buzzword; it is a lived reality.

Looking to establish a more balanced work culture? Check out Skillsoft’s course library for courses on topics such as mental health awareness and psychological safety.

We see you. And we can help!

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The Power of Flexibility: Supporting Women Across the Workforce https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/the-power-of-flexibility-supporting-women-across-the-workforce Fri, 08 Sep 2023 07:58:00 -0400 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/the-power-of-flexibility-supporting-women-across-the-workforce

Today, it’s common to hop on a Zoom or Microsoft Teams call and see your co-workers in a range of attire — from sweatpants to polo shirts.

The COVID pandemic and shift to remote work has prompted a new evolution of working. It’s given many people more insight into their co-workers’ lives, purely because they are seeing a corner of their home. This shift has inspired a more human approach to work, which has become common across many organizations moving to remote-first policies.

In a recent World of Work survey, 81.8% of respondents said remote work and flexible work schedules will be more important for job candidates going forward. It's evident that remote work will persist across a wide range of industries.

At the same time, we’re seeing flexible work schedules take a variety of forms, including compressed work weeks, custom working hours or flex-time, and alternative schedules that provide employees with greater autonomy.

This has been particularly helpful for women in the workforce. Pre-COVID, 26.2% of women worked from home. Nearly twice as many women worked from home in 2020. In 2021, the number of women working remotely dipped only slightly to 41%, according to the Washington Post.

For many women , especially those with family or caregiving commitments, a flexible schedule means they can manage their time more effectively by tending to both their work and home duties with fewer conflicts.

Moreover, flexible schedules can be instrumental in closing the gender gap in the workplace, as they enable women to pursue their career goals without making sacrifices to achieve them.

The Power of Flexibility for Women in the Workplace

One of the most compelling arguments for flexible work schedules is that they can increase productivity — and in some cases, the increases are substantial.

This flexibility allows employees to complete their tasks during times when they have the most energy, leading to better performance and efficiency.

When balancing home and work life, women often serve as the primary caregiver. One study showed the majority (59%) of women put in up to 20 hours of unpaid work at home, compared to only 41% of men. Increasing the number of hours put in at home, the disparity grows.

This means women must work harder than men to achieve the same results, let alone advance.

Furthermore, women are susceptible to biases that men often aren’t. They are judged more harshly for wasting time or not being available when needed, and these judgements negatively impact a woman’s success in the workplace.

“Women experience biased treatment relative to men simply because they are women,” writes Andie Kramer, founder of ASKramer Law, in Forbes. “These unjustified attitudes lead them to treat women as 'not as good as' men. The result is the gendered standards that influence organizations in ways that are unjustifiably less favorable than the men.”

Flexible schedules are a first step for many organizations to overcome gender inequality and empower women in their workforce to excel.

A Four Step Blueprint to Work-from-Home (WFH) Success

Implementing new or different flexible work methods takes careful planning and strategic execution. Here are some key elements to consider:

1. Clear Communication

The first step toward implementing flexible schedules is clear communication. Leaders should openly discuss the new policy, explaining its benefits, how it will work, and how it aligns with the company's values and goals.

It's also important to be transparent about any potential challenges and how the company plans to address them. Regular updates and open channels for feedback are crucial, as they allow employees to voice their concerns and suggestions, fostering a sense of involvement and ownership.

2. Trust

For a flexible schedule to be successful, employers need to trust their employees. Instead of focusing on hours worked, the emphasis should be on the quality of work and meeting targets.

This shift requires a culture of trust and autonomy. Employees should feel empowered to manage their time effectively without fear of being micromanaged. Building a culture of trust not only supports the implementation of flexible schedules but also boosts morale and job satisfaction.

3. Use of Tech

Technology plays a critical role in facilitating flexible work schedules as well. Tools for project management, video conferencing, instant messaging, and document sharing can help employees collaborate and stay connected, regardless of where or when they're working.

It's also useful to have systems in place for tracking performance and productivity, which can provide objective data to support a focus on results rather than hours worked.

4. Training for Managers

Managers play a pivotal role in implementing any flexible working methods. They need to be trained to manage remote teams and individuals with different work schedules.

This includes learning to communicate effectively across different platforms, understanding how to set clear expectations, and knowing how to measure performance based on output. Training should also cover strategies for building team cohesion and maintaining a sense of connection among team members, regardless of their schedules.

Beyond training, ongoing coaching can be beneficial for managers navigating the transition. It’s crucial for all leaders within an organization to receive training on working with a diverse workforce, including women who face a unique set of challenges. This is where specialized coaching can best serve all leaders.

This coaching can help managers break down traditional gender biases and stereotypes that often hinder women's career progression. It equips them with the tools and strategies necessary to create a more inclusive, equitable, and productive work environment.

Skillsoft is hosting an upcoming webinar that teaches leaders how to empower women within their organizations. It’s led by Antje Brügmann, Executive Coach & Global Trainer.

Attendees will learn how coaching can:

  • Help women+ develop and enhance their leadership skills
  • Provide a supportive workplace that enables organizations to meet their goals
  • Foster a culture of inclusivity and create a diverse leadership pipeline

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How to Build an Effective Coaching Program at Your Organization https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/how-to-build-an-effective-coaching-program-at-your-organization Tue, 05 Sep 2023 12:17:00 -0400 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/how-to-build-an-effective-coaching-program-at-your-organization

Coaching is a positive opportunity for growth, learning, and support – and it is a powerful benefit that your organization can offer to its employees. The proof is in the data:

  • 80% of people who receive coaching report increased self-confidence
  • More than 70% benefit from improved work performance, relationships, and more effective communication skills
  • 86% of organizations report that they recouped their investment on coaching, and more

However, building a coaching program to empower effective leaders at every level of your organization requires careful planning and consideration of various factors, including employee perception.

Common Misconceptions Around Coaching

While the concept of coaching in the workplace has been around since the 1970s, it has taken some time for it to become mainstream because some employees are hesitant to embrace it as a tool for both personal and professional growth.

One of the first steps to building a positive coaching culture in your organization is to address common employee misconceptions around coaching head-on.

Perception
Reality

“A coach will criticize my work.”

Coaching is about growth and development. Coaches work with employees to provide objective feedback and advice for improvement.

“I need coaching because I am inadequate.”

Coaching is not a reflection of incompetence! Everyone has areas for growth, and coaching is a proactive way to address those areas.

“If I participate in a coaching program everyone will know what I need to work on.”

Coaching sessions are conducted in a confidential and respectful manner. Coaches maintain privacy and trust with the employees they work with.

“I don’t have time for coaching.”

Coaching can improve efficiency, effectiveness, and overall job satisfaction in the long run.

“I’m doing fine; I don’t need coaching.”

Change can be uncomfortable, but coaching can help you to adapt and grow both personally and professionally.

“I don’t trust my organization to have my best interests at heart.”

If your organization doesn't value learning and development, employees may perceive coaching negatively. Foster a culture that promotes growth, learning, and continuous improvement.

“What’s the point?”

Unclear objectives foster uncertainty. Make sure employees understand how coaching aligns with their personal and professional growth.

Understanding employees’ perception of coaching within your organization will help you to meet them where they are at and alleviate any concerns they may have.

Key Considerations for Building a Coaching Program

A true coaching culture fosters an environment where learning, collaboration, and continuous improvement are valued and encouraged. Open communication, transparent information, and demonstrating the tangible benefits of coaching can help foster a positive attitude toward coaching within your organization.

But you also need a plan.

While every organization approaches their coaching program differently, here are some things you may want to consider:

  1. Define the Program Objectives: Determine what outcomes you want to achieve, such as developing specific leadership competencies, enhancing performance, or supporting career transitions.
  2. Assess Current Leadership Capabilities: Analyze skill gaps and areas for improvement. These insights should help you to determine the target audience for your coaching program. This could include high-potential leaders, newly promoted managers, or individuals identified for succession planning. Coaching is even a useful tool to support career transitions.
  3. Determine the Scope and Duration of the Program: Consider whether it will be a short-term intervention or a longer-term developmental initiative. Determine the frequency and duration of coaching sessions and the overall program timeline. Looking for buy-in from your executive team? Think about building out a small pilot program to prove out the effectiveness of your coaching program.
  4. Develop Coaching Framework: Provide coaches and participants with a consistent and structured approach. Include guidelines for confidentiality, goal setting, progress tracking, and evaluation.
  5. Create Individual Development Plans: Collaborate with participants to identify their specific goals, areas for development, and desired outcomes. Ensure alignment between individual development plans and organizational goals.
  6. Match Coaches with Participants: Match coaches with participants based on their expertise, experience, and compatibility.
  7. Evaluate and Measure Program Effectiveness: Collect feedback from participants, coaches, and relevant stakeholders. Measure outcomes and compare them to the program objectives. Use the evaluation results to make improvements and adjustments for future iterations.
  8. Monitor and Track Progress: Provide regular feedback and support to ensure accountability and progress toward your goals.

Building a coaching culture in your organization goes beyond individual coaching sessions; it shapes the very fabric of your business by promoting learning, growth, collaboration, and adaptability. It’s an investment that pays off in the form of enhanced performance, innovation, and a more engaged and motivated workforce.

But you have to approach your coaching program like you would approach any other initiative – with a clear plan in place. Need more information? Skillsoft Coaching experts can help.

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The Essential Qualities of Future-Fit Leaders in an Era of Skill Disruption https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/the-essential-qualities-of-future-fit-leaders-in-an-era-of-skill-disruption Fri, 01 Sep 2023 13:01:00 -0400 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/the-essential-qualities-of-future-fit-leaders-in-an-era-of-skill-disruption

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2023 presents a unique picture of what the workforce might look like over the next five years. Here are three key findings from the report to note as your organization prepares for the future:

  • Employers estimate that 44% of workers’ skills will be disrupted in the next five years.
  • Six in 10 workers will require training before 2027, but only half of workers are seen to have access to adequate training opportunities today.
  • To meet business goals, survey respondents reported that investing in learning and on-the-job training and automating processes are the most common workforce strategies

Developing and nurturing key leadership competencies will help organizations cultivate a strong pipeline of leaders who can drive innovation, adapt to disruption, and guide their teams to sustainable success. Learn how to build a scalable coaching program in your organization.

Explore the Skills Necessary for the Future of Work

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), eight of the top 10 skills that will be required at work in 2030 are coachable personal and interpersonal skills.

And while your organization may have its own idea of the specific competencies required to lead in your industry, here are the leadership competencies that most future-fit leaders will share:

Analytical Thinking

Analytical thinking empowers future-fit leaders to understand, assess, and respond to the dynamic challenges and opportunities that arise due to disruptions in skills, technology, and markets. By honing their analytical thinking skills, your organization’s leaders can navigate uncertainty with confidence and guide your business toward success.

Creative Thinking

Creative thinking equips future-fit leaders with the tools to navigate uncertainty, drive innovation, and envision a path forward in complex and ambiguous situations. It allows them to transcend traditional boundaries and cultivate a culture of exploration and growth within your organization.

Resilience, Flexibility, Agility

Resilience, flexibility, and agility create a well-rounded skill set that equips future-fit leaders to thrive amidst uncertainty and disruption. Resilience means adapting to change, managing stress and maintaining well-being, and understanding the emotions of yourself and your team. Flexibility is being open to new ideas and diverse perspectives and exploring multiple solutions to problems. Agile leaders can make informed decisions quickly, even in ambiguous situations. They prioritize learning and growth and empower their teams to take ownership of tasks and make decisions.

Motivation and Self-Awareness

Motivation and self-awareness contribute to a leader’s ability to inspire, adapt, and foster a positive work environment, ultimately leading to improved performance and sustainable growth. Motivated leaders inspire others, persevere, encourage creative thinking and risk taking, and align their team’s efforts with organizational goals. They understand their communication style and how it impacts others, recognize their own biases, and actively seek feedback.

Curiosity and Lifelong Learning

Future-fit workers are curious. They are open to acquiring new knowledge and skills, seeking out diverse perspectives and unconventional solutions, and critically examine situations by asking probing questions. They tend to lead by example, adapt well to uncertainty, and develop strong skills in discerning credible information from noise.

Dependability and Attention to Detail

Dependability and attention to detail are vital skills for future-fit leaders because they contribute to building trust, ensuring quality, and maintaining organizational efficiency in a rapidly changing and competitive environment. Leaders who carefully analyze details are better equipped to spot vulnerabilities or potential risks in projects, strategies, or operations.

Empathy and Active Listening

Empathy and active listening are crucial skills for future-fit leaders because they foster strong relationships, effective communication, and a deeper understanding of the diverse perspectives that drive modern workplaces. As organizations become more globally interconnected and diverse, leaders who possess these skills can create inclusive environments, enhance collaboration, and navigate complex challenges with sensitivity and insight.

Leadership and Social Influence

Leadership and social influence enable individuals to guide organizations through change, inspire their teams, and drive positive impact in an increasingly interconnected and dynamic world.

Developing Core Competencies Through Coaching

Given that only half of all workers report having adequate training opportunities to develop these core competencies, what is the best way to upskill/reskill your employees to help them prepare for the future of work?

Therein lies the power of coaching.

Research conducted by SAP HR found a positive correlation between coaching and career outcomes, including higher compensation, more promotions, greater job satisfaction, and increased belief in career advancement.

When an organization invests in coaching its employees, it sends a powerful message that every individual's personal growth and talents are valuable. Coaches are meant to challenge assumptions, to transcend blind spots, help gain new awareness and broaden perspectives, and empower individuals to overcome obstacles and make authentic shifts in their behaviors to align with their intentions.

Employees can work closely with expert coaches through personalized coaching to define their goals and align leadership strategies with their professional development. And Skillsoft Coaching offers many options for learning and growth, including:

  • 1:1 Coaching can help accelerate the development of leadership competencies across your organization. It can be tailored to individual employees (from the executive team to individual contributors) and customized to the competencies they need to be effective.
  • Specialized Coaching focuses on developing skills relevant to specific circumstances. With strategic pathways focused on women in leadership, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), and new leaders, your team can learn the key competencies shared by effective leaders in these areas. Hear directly from Skillsoft Coaches in the new Coaching Corner 15-minute webinar series, where they dive into the core competencies every contributor needs to be successful.
  • Group Coaching is delivered to small groups within your organization who need to learn a particular skill or competency. Learn how Pudget Sound Energy (PSE), a utility company in Washington state, delivers coaching one-on-one and in small groups.

Coaching supports your team as they work to achieve their goals, maximize their potential, and enhance their performance. And it is no longer reserved exclusively for the C-suite. In fact, coaching helps in the development of all employees, from individual contributors to executives. It is a flexible and adaptable process that can be tailored to the specific needs and objectives of each team member.

If you’re looking to develop a coaching program at scale, Skillsoft Coaching can help.

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Developers Use AI to Work Faster, Smarter — Here’s How https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/developers-use-ai-to-work-faster-smarter-heres-how Thu, 31 Aug 2023 09:50:00 -0400 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/developers-use-ai-to-work-faster-smarter-heres-how

In the fast-paced world of web development and software engineering exist a multitude of challenges:

  • Tight deadlines
  • Intense workloads
  • Cybersecurity threats
  • Continuous technological change
  • The need to constantly stay on top of learning (and everything else)

...to name a few.

However, the recent boost of generative AI platforms and tools has ushered in new opportunities to tackle these challenges head-on. And developers are catching on quickly. A GitHub-Wakefield Research study revealed 92% of developers have begun using AI tools at work — and for good reason.

AI's role in building websites, apps or software solutions provides developers with numerous ways to work more efficiently. From automating mundane tasks to predicting user behavior and personalizing content, AI is changing the way developers work and the products they create.

With this in mind, how are developers using AI to bolster their efforts? Let's dive in.

Cut Down on Repetitive Tasks to Save Time

Generative AI, machine learning and other facets of the technology have become integral parts of developers' workflow. AI is particularly good at automating simple, repetitive tasks. Doing so frees up developers' time to work on more complex projects, which helps strike an ideal balance between what's best suited for the machine versus the human.

A GitHub study found 88% of developers felt more productive at work when using its Copilot. "I have to think less, and when I have to think it’s the fun stuff. It sets off a little spark that makes coding more fun and more efficient," said a study participant, who works as a senior software engineer.

McKinsey research found that developers leaning on generative AI at work sped up their output in these areas:

  • Up to 50% faster at code documentation
  • Up to 45% faster at code generation
  • Up to 30% faster at code refactoring

Improve Test Accuracy and Frequency

AI enhances testing by:

  • Automating repetitive tasks
  • Predicting potential errors
  • Identifying bugs
  • Supporting continuous testing
  • Optimizing test cases
  • Conducting performance testing

These capabilities make testing more efficient and accurate, helping developers create high-quality software more quickly. However, there are some considerations to keep in mind. Currently, artificial intelligence tools can stumble when faced with complex assignments.

"AI often lacks the nuanced understanding and context required to address complex bugs effectively," writes Nicole Abramowski, a full stack software engineer and writer, in CareerFoundry. "Bugs can arise from various factors such as conflicting code interactions, server configurations, or external dependencies, requiring a deep understanding of the codebase and system architecture."

All this is to say that while AI can support testing, humans must complete the analyses to ensure accuracy. But, going through this process supported by AI can speed up a sometimes painstakingly long process.

Codecademy has a free course on debugging Python code with ChatGPT. It's meant to show developers how to effectively work with ChatGPT to debug code, and more.

Speed Up Development with Copilots, Natural Language Programming

AI copilots like GitHub Copilot, OpenAI's ChatGPT, Amazon CodeWhisperer and others are seeing a surge in adoption by developers for their ability to speed up development significantly.

A study by GitHub split a group of 95 developers randomly in half to see the impact its copilot could have at work. The assignment was to write a web server in JavaScript.

The developers in the group that used GitHub Copilot finished in just over an hour on average, whereas those in the group that didn't spent nearly three hours on the task. What's more, the group using the copilot also had a higher completion rate, meaning more developers finished the assignment.

Tools like these are changing the way developers code and for the better. Working with copilots like GitHub's or ChatGPT help make programming easier and more accessible, especially since human developers can interface with machines like they would a co-worker.

“That allows you, as a developer, to have an intent to accomplish something in your head that you can express in natural language and this technology translates it into code that achieves the intent you have,” said Kevin Scott, Microsoft's CTO, in an article. “That’s a fundamentally different way of thinking about development than we’ve had since the beginning of software.”

Of course, copilots are not always perfect. Despite its capabilities, AI may generate erroneous code due to limitations in understanding complex programming logic, a lack of context, or training data inaccuracies. So, it's always important to double and triple-check work.

Close Skill Gaps with AI-Enhanced Learning

AI tools help developers learn by doing. As these tools provide code suggestions in the flow of work, developers can learn new methods, functions, or best practices sometimes directly within their dev environment. They can also leverage AI chatbots to ask questions or clarify doubts in real-time.

AI also allows for adaptive learning, where the learning path changes based on the learner's progress, ensuring they're always challenged or engaged. This way, AI aids in creating a more efficient and effective learning journey for software developers.

What's more, AI-powered learning platforms like Skillsoft's Percipio provide personalized content based on the developer's proficiency level, interests, and career goals. These platforms use algorithms to analyze the developer's interaction with the platform, including completed courses, search queries, and assessment results, to recommend relevant learning resources.

Lean into AI-Powered Learning Solutions

In software development, continuous learning is crucial. Skillsoft provides training solutions to help developers keep pace with the latest technological advancements — like generative AI — while working toward their career goals.

With Skillsoft's Codecademy, developers gain access to a robust platform, Percipio, which uses AI to personalize and enhance the learning experience for each person. The AI tailors learning based on user profiles, search behavior, learning activity, skill assessments, and roles. (Read about 12 ways Skillsoft Percipio uses AI.)

Whether you're interested in AI, web development, software engineering, cybersecurity or another area, you can start learning with Skillsoft today — for free. Get started today by signing up for a trial.

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Build Better Curricula and Scale Learning Programs Faster with Artificial Intelligence https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/build-better-curricula-and-scale-learning-programs-faster-with-artificial-intelligence Wed, 30 Aug 2023 02:08:00 -0400 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/build-better-curricula-and-scale-learning-programs-faster-with-artificial-intelligence

AI/ML content tagging — which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze learning content for skills — can have a surprisingly powerful impact on role-based learning. Here's how.

Learning and development (L&D) leaders are key players in workforce transformation initiatives. When an organization needs to upgrade its workforce, it's up to L&D leaders to connect the right employees with the right learning opportunities to move the transformation forward.

In a previous article , we covered how role-based learning programs grounded in job architectures can efficiently upskill employees and meet transformation targets.

(Need a quick refresher? A job architecture is a systematic way of categorizing jobs in an organization. Role-based learning is an employee development approach where learning paths are organized by role, and employees are connected to learning opportunities based on their current roles and the roles they aspire to.)

L&D leaders could build role-based learning programs manually. But that would be a slog, and workforce transformation is a race against time. The longer it takes to upskill employees, the further a company may fall behind its competitors.

However, L&D leaders don't have to do it manually. Instead, they can leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to streamline and automate much of the process.

At Skillsoft, we're introducing AI/ML content tagging to curate role-based learning paths in our skilling platform. Here's a look at how tagging works — and how it makes role-based learning even more scalable, accurate, and effective.

What Is AI/ML Content Tagging, and How Does It Work?

Skills are the core of any role-based learning program. Each role is associated with a specific set of skills, as defined in the job architecture. Learning content that covers these skill sets is organized in a comprehensive path. When employees need to upskill or reskill to reach a new role, they simply follow the relevant learning path to pick up the skills they're missing.

It's no small feat to curate an entire library of training content into role-based learning paths. You would need subject matter experts to comb through all your content — every course, every article, every video, every book, every exercise. They would need to analyze each asset to determine the skills it covers and the roles to which it would be relevant.

Aside from being rather expensive and incredibly time-consuming, this manual curation is bound to introduce some imprecision. Different experts might have different opinions on how to define certain skills and roles. This could result in learning paths that don't totally align with the organization's needs — like a software developer path that doesn't cover all the right Python content.

AI/ML content tagging can speed up content curation while removing subjective judgment from the equation. First, learning assets pass through a generative AI. The AI analyzes the content and identifies the skills it contains and the role(s) for which the content would be relevant. Then, the AI's conclusions pass through a machine learning (ML) algorithm. The ML compares the AI's analysis to reference standards and the results of previous analyses to ensure the AI is accurately identifying skills and grouping content appropriately.

Why Use Both AI and ML?

Today's generative AIs are highly sophisticated programs. They can draw connections between disparate pieces of content with a fairly high degree of accuracy, but they're not perfect. AI's hallucination problem is well-documented, and some experts believe we may never be able to entirely stop AI from occasionally making things up.

We can still enjoy the benefits of AI. We just need to manage the risks. That's where the ML comes in. It acts as a guardrail, double-checking the AI's conclusions to ensure it doesn't run amok. Not only does the ML catch the (rare) outright falsehood, but it also corrects subtler mistakes.

For example, an AI may group a sales training course and a cloud engineering course together because they both talk about the skill of "networking." But the ML would determine that, actually, the content deals with two different kinds of networking: cloud networking on the one hand and the wining-and-dining social networking of sales on the other.

By running content through both a generative AI and an ML algorithm, we can take advantage of the AI's speed and overall accuracy while correcting any errors that may arise.

How AI/ML Content Tagging Makes Role-Based Learning More Effective

Role-based learning can drive workforce transformation, but it only works if the right people are connected with the right content. Without automation, L&D admins need to look at every piece of content, determine what it's good for, and then find the right audience for it.

With automation, L&D leaders can speed up curricula creation, scale learning programs, and improve the overall quality of learning paths.

1. Streamlining Curation and Delivering Content to the Right People

A job architecture gives you a role and a collection of skills that go with that role. AI/ML content tagging streamlines the process of turning this information into a useful curriculum. The AI takes care of finding content that covers the necessary skills, and the ML ensures the AI is accurate. Then, content can be grouped into the right learning paths and delivered straight to the employees who need it.

2. Scaling the Program Faster

Building curricula based on the skills contained in your learning content is a powerful way to train employees, but it's also pretty difficult. And it only becomes more complicated the more kinds of content you add and the more roles you target.

AI/ML content tagging makes it easier to scale role-based learning without sacrificing the breadth and depth of the learning opportunities offered. AI/ML content tagging can quickly turn even massive content libraries into curated, cohesive learning paths. And AI/ML can do all of this across different content types, formats, and learning providers.

3. Improving Program Quality

As mentioned earlier, before AI/ML hit the scene, L&D admins had to curate learning paths manually. This meant relying on a lot of subjective judgment, and it can be tough for even the most dedicated subject matter experts to parse so much content without missing a few things. As a result, organizations could end up with learning programs that missed important details or didn't include all the relevant content.

AI/ML, on the other hand, ensures much more relevant and reliable learning paths are created. With the AI and the ML checking each other's work, so to speak, you can be more confident that people are learning all the necessary skills and nothing has been left out.

Harness the Power of AI and ML for Role-Based Learning

In today's rapidly evolving workplace landscape, L&D leaders are at the forefront of workforce transformation. To quickly respond to the pressures of both the marketplace and internal organizational mandates, L&D leaders need role-based learning programs that connect the right people with the right training.

The addition of AI/ML content tagging makes role-based learning even more effective. Organizations can rapidly and efficiently curate comprehensive training paths, supercharging their learning programs and ensuring their organizations stay ahead of the curve.

Learn more about how the Skillsoft platform can help propel your workforce transformation strategy.

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How IT Teams Use Generative AI to Make Their Lives Easier https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/how-it-teams-use-generative-ai-to-make-their-lives-easier Tue, 29 Aug 2023 08:07:00 -0400 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/how-it-teams-use-generative-ai-to-make-their-lives-easier

OpenAI’s ChatGPT and other generative AI (GenAI) platforms have become wildly popular because of their extraordinary ability to improve productivity — and generally make life easier.

When ChatGPT hit the market, within one week it exploded in popularity with more than 1 million users jumping onto the platform. Not long after launch, the platform boasted more than 100 million monthly active users, which by some estimates makes it the fastest growing consumer application in history.

Looking at the impact globally, applications like these have incredible potential. One McKinsey report shares the global economy could see up to $4.4 trillion in benefits from adopting and integrating generative AI across 63 use cases, which range from software engineering to legal and supply chain.

Many in IT, software engineering and development are seeing the benefits unfold in real time. “Something that used to take an engineer 30 minutes to do can now be done by AI in one minute,” said Bridget Frey, CTO at Redfin, to GeekWire. “We’ve also found ways to use these tools to help us serve customers more efficiently.”

Today, use cases vary widely in the workplace with still more in development. From software engineering to coaching, the possibilities feel endless. But where exactly is it having the greatest impact? How is it making work easier, faster, or more efficient for those in IT?

Let’s break it down:

For Security Analysts, Engineers, and Hackers:

Scan Logs, Detect Threats, and Automate Tasks to Offload Work

If you’re reviewing logs, scripts, or other textual data, generative AI tools can help serve as a second set of eyes to quickly spot anomalies.

Given the near instantaneous feedback from these platforms, GenAI stands to greatly improve the speed and efficiency of reviewing logs and detecting what has a high likelihood of threatening the organization — rather than being another false positive. This, in turn, can help security analysts respond to more pressing threats faster.

Further, security professionals may also look to these tools for automating script writing or SIEM queries, presenting risk assessments and recommendations, and generally cutting down the workload for security professionals.

But What About Hackers?

Scanning networks or recommending configuration improvements are helpful defensive applications for generative AI — but what about more offensive use cases?

There are concerns that bad actors will use GenAI tools to bolster their efforts.

For example, bad actors could glean what public information they can about a person, and then plug that data into the chat function looking for potential password variations. With this type of information, bad actors may be able to quickly crack into someone’s account and gain access to private information.

What’s more, bad actors may be able to scan networks or find intrusion points to exploit vulnerabilities, develop more convincing phishing tactics, and even write polymorphic malware. (Scary, right?)

For the ethical hackers reading this, think about reverse engineering these tactics to build a defensive strategy. Employing the same tactics, ethical hackers can also find vulnerabilities in software or across networks and then act quickly to improve their organization’s security posture.

It’s fighting fire with fire — but given the power behind GenAI, it’s important to understand the tools, how bad actors may deploy them, and then leverage those same tools to harden your defenses.

For Web Developers and Software Engineers:

Generate Commands and Code Faster; Debug and Test for Efficacy, Vulnerabilities

Web and software developers, programmers, and systems analysts all stand to move faster by relying on GenAI tools and so-called copilots to supplement their efforts. McKinsey research has found developers stand to benefit the most in these ways:

  • Speeding up manual, repetitive work
  • Drafting new or updating existing code
  • Increasing bandwidth at work

The findings show developers moved up to 50% faster when writing documentation, 45% for code generation, and 30% for code refactoring. “With the right upskilling and enterprise enablers, these speed gains can be translated into an increase in productivity that outperforms past advances in engineering productivity, driven by both new tooling and processes,” the report says.

Whether it’s to remind yourself of commands, translate from one language to another, or generate lines upon lines of code, these tools can pump out work at non-human speeds.

In an interview, Augmend CEO and co-founder Diamond Bishop said: “We’re a team of five devs, and we estimate productivity impact of almost 2X. Each of us leverage both Copilot and ChatGPT in day-to-day development, debugging, and learning.”

While these tools may work well to create an initial draft or work through specific problems, they’ll still require an extra set of (human) eyes to check code that’s still in development. What’s more, the McKinsey research shows less benefit in using these tools for more complex projects or for those developers unfamiliar with frameworks or still early in their careers.

To this end, as developers become more familiar with these tools, their abilities to use them effectively will also increase. Being able to prompt GenAI platforms to produce the result you want takes time to master, but once those skills are sharp, the possibilities are basically endless.

Worried about AI taking your job? Think again.

While generative AI does stand to help speed up development, there are worries of it replacing or taking jobs away from developers.

Is this fear worth losing sleep over?

It’s important to remember that this is already a stretched labor pool, with too few in the business to meet the growing demand for these skills. Consider the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projections of jobs in web development growing much faster than the national average.

AI won’t replace developers but augment those teams who support the many organizations struggling with open head count and skills gaps.

Read Next:12 Ways Skillsoft Percipio Uses AI to Enhance Learning

Remember: Generative AI Is Here to Help — But Use It Wisely

Without a doubt, GenAI tools have been a dream come true for many who’ve felt underwater at work or just wanted to offload tedious tasks.

However, with the spike in adoption and high accessibility, they’ve also gotten ahead of IT departments causing a flurry of security concerns. One study revealed 81% of participants worry about potential breaches, data leaks, and more.

“A most concerning risk for organizations is data privacy and leaking intellectual property… Think about potential trade secrets, classified information, and customer data that is fed into the tool. This data could be stored, accessed, or misused by service providers,” said Dennis Bijker, CEO of SignPost Six, to Zapier.

In some ways, it’s become a classic case of shadow IT — or a lack of organizational oversight into what technology the workforce uses day to day.

One survey shows 30% of those in tech and 50% in business services use tools like ChatGPT without their employer’s knowledge. Many use them simply to generate ideas or write emails, but this survey also shows many rely on them to code or for research.

While applying these tools for use cases like these makes perfect sense, not all of these tools are rock solid with respect to security.

For these reasons, technology and business leaders must work together to raise awareness of the potential risks involving these tools to safeguard data and protect against threats. Anyone using tools like these should do so in compliance with your organization’s artificial intelligence policy.

GenAI can make your work life a little easier, but it pays dividends once you’ve become familiar with how it works. Skillsoft offers several new courses and an Aspire Journey focused on generative AI to help everyone from web developers to business leaders understand the technology, its benefits and limitations, and how to use it productively and ethically.

Gain access to this training today for free by signing up for a trial of Skillsoft’s Percipio. Or, learn about Skillsoft’s training solutions here:

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Skills Gaps in AI Worry Executives and Stall Progress, Report Shows https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/skills-gaps-in-ai-worry-executives-and-stall-progress-report-shows Mon, 28 Aug 2023 16:41:00 -0400 alec.olson@skillsoft.com (Alec Olson) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/skills-gaps-in-ai-worry-executives-and-stall-progress-report-shows

Only one in five technology executives feel confident in their workforce’s skill when it comes to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).

A recent report by Skillsoft, The C-Suite Perspective, revealed that 81% of executives ranked their team’s skills in AI and ML as medium to low.

With the boom of generative AI, many executives feel a sense of urgency to close these gaps and bolster their workforce’s skill. Knowing this, it’s not surprising to see AI as a top investment area for most C-level executives this year.

According to a Deloitte report, nearly all (94%) executives believe it’ll be critical to business success over the next five years. And a Gartner poll found nearly half of executives polled credit ChatGPT with galvanizing investments in generative AI. Yet, 70% of organizations remain in the exploration phase.

“The generative AI frenzy shows no signs of abating,” said Frances Karamouzis, Distinguished VP Analyst at Gartner in a press release. “Organizations are scrambling to determine how much cash to pour into generative AI solutions, which products are worth the investment, when to get started and how to mitigate the risks that come with this emerging technology.”

Many executives have already started planning investments to train their workforce, especially as the spike in demand for these skills add pressure to the labor market.

A Skillsoft survey found sixty-three percent of executives reported having at least three open positions on their teams, validating the number one issue many face today: talent recruitment.

What this means is that many organizations won’t be able to hire their way out of this issue. Instead, they’ll have to lead their teams to build the competencies they need to remain competitive and take advantage of these technologies.

To help their organizations become more skilled in AI, executives must overcome a series of hurdles. Let’s break them down:

Skills Gaps in AI Add Pressure to Top Workplace Challenges

The AI buzz has fueled public interest and the market is responding. New apps, platforms and tools have launch or integration plans. Word has spread of their ongoing progress — and the pressure is on.

The C-Suite Perspective Report shows these are the top five issues executives struggle with:

  1. Talent recruitment
  2. Talent retention
  3. Skills gaps
  4. Resources constraints
  5. Workload

All of these are getting in the way of deploying and scaling initiatives. A study by Rackspace Technology found one of the leading reasons for slow AI adoption is due to a shortage of skilled talent.

According to Deloitte’s State of AI in the Enterprise survey, 41% of respondents say an insufficient amount of technical skill in AI prevents them from scaling initiatives. The remedy for most (53%) is to look for outside help, while more than one-third plan to retrain existing employees.

“One of the major changes that AI presents to any organization is the need to plan technology and talent investments in tandem, looking at each as a source of critical skill sets — a unified human with machine workforce,” the report says.

Establishing a starting bench of talent has become the priority to kickstart and progress initiatives, and there are added benefits to taking this route. Hiring outside talent means more experts who can train staff.

The challenge with this strategy, though, is hiring in the first place and warding off competitors that are after your talent.

Instead, Skillsoft’s findings show almost half of executives believe upskilling their existing teams is the way to bridge these skills gaps, with 24% planning to hire new talent, and 20% looking to vendors.

“When you hire a new employee, you are essentially starting over. They need time to learn your business and get up to speed,” according to Skillsoft’s report. “You hired them for their hard skills, but do you know their work ethic, their sense of loyalty, or their grasp of power skills, like communication, agility, and resilience? Existing employees have already proven their value. The next logical step is to build on their skill level.”

More and more, organizations are looking for AI skills in these areas, according to Skillsoft’s VP of IT Certification and Developer Products, Mike Hendrickson:

  • Predictive analytics
  • Natural language process
  • Large language models
  • Machine learning
  • ChatGPT (and generative AI in general)

To realize all the great benefits of AI, executives must blend their approach to acquiring these skills — but emphasize learning.

3 Steps to Close Skill Gaps in AI

Gaps in AI skill have slowed down its adoption, making it harder to realize its full potential. Many are looking to these technologies to help transform their organizations, but it’ll be a long road if executive leadership doesn’t face them head-on.

But where do you start?

In an interview with eWeek, Skillsoft CIO Orla Daly said many are grappling with the fact that “there is a ton of opportunity with AI, how do we think about taking advantage of that in a responsible way, as quickly as possible so we’re not left behind?”

From Daly’s point of view, these are the steps executives should take as they start AI-related initiatives:

Ask Yourself: What Are You Trying to Do with AI?

The crux of AI initiatives that are set to take off is first having a destination in mind. What’s the business value? Ultimately, what are you hoping to achieve?

You must first have a clear, well-documented plan that builds on the organization’s goals and priorities.

Then, Identify What Skills You Need.

Having the roadmap in view, executives must work with talent development and human resources to identify the skills they need to make it all happen. Orla says to ask: “What are the skills I need and what are the skills in my organization that I can bring to bear quickly to allow me to keep pace?”

When writing job descriptions or creating a job architecture, it will help to identify existing roles that may have overlap or transferrable skills that may go beyond the technical nature of AI.

“To really take advantage of AI, it's about creative thinking, it's about problem solving… it’s not just the technical skills,” Daly said. “I think it's really important to start with taking inventory of what it is you're trying to achieve with AI. And then in order to do that, what are the core skills that you need to either augment within your existing organization or upskill individuals?”

Determine How Roles Are Impacted by AI

“AI impacts every role, and I think every role needs to understand how it works with AI and takes advantage of AI,” Daly said. “How do we prepare the workforce for that?”

From business to education, software engineering, health care and beyond, AI has great potential — and virtually everyone will benefit if they learn how it complements their work.

One study looked at the tasks of numerous roles, breaking down each step to determine which was better suited to a human versus a machine. It spanned 950 occupations and 18,000 tasks. The findings revealed that not one occupation was fully replaced by AI, but rather supported by it.

“For instance, in the case of radiologists, machine learning was very good at looking at medical images and increasingly good at diagnosing different pathologies,” said Erik Brynjolfsson, Professor at the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered AI, to the World Economic Forum. “However, it's not good at consoling patients or talking to them after a diagnosis, or coordinating care with other doctors.”

Bridging the Gap: Training is the Way Forward


Today, it’s the tip of the iceberg for artificial intelligence. Until more people are trained on the technology, adoption will remain slower than what undoubtedly many executives hope for.

Before 2027, 60% of workers will require some level of training, according to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report.

“Training workers to utilize AI and big data ranks third among company skills-training priorities in the next five years,” the report says. “Two-thirds of companies expect to see a return on investment on skills training within a year of the investment, whether in the form of enhanced cross-role mobility, increased worker satisfaction or enhanced worker productivity.”

Skillsoft’s research shows 70% of organizations offer formal training today, leaving nearly one-third without. According to the IT Skills and Salary Report, the main reason why many don’t receive training through work is because “management doesn’t see a reason for it.”

However, executives have an opportunity to transform their organizations by investing in their workforce's development.

Training programs for AI can provide companies with a competitive edge, improve productivity while closing gaps. Therefore, it is imperative that executives prioritize investments in their employees' development and offer opportunities for upskilling.

For more insights, Skillsoft's C-Suite Perspective Report provides an in-depth analysis of the impact of skills gaps and offers guidance on how to tackle this challenge.

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Future-Proof Your Tech Team: The Key Skills for Tomorrow’s Challenges https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/future-proof-your-tech-team-the-key-skills-for-tomorrows-challenges Fri, 25 Aug 2023 15:33:00 -0400 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/future-proof-your-tech-team-the-key-skills-for-tomorrows-challenges

While learning programs seek to keep pace and fill skill gaps, it’s challenging to know which skills tech professionals should invest in. Cited from Skillsoft’s Lean into Learning report, cybersecurity, cloud computing, and data management have emerged as the top skills in the technology sector to acquire.

The report underscores the increasing importance of cybersecurity skills in safeguarding digital assets and user information. Cloud computing expertise is highlighted for its pivotal role in enabling scalable and flexible infrastructure. Moreover, proficiency in data management is identified as crucial for leveraging the insights and potential within vast datasets to drive informed decision-making and innovation.

More recently, Skillsoft’s Codecademy released the C-Suite-Perspective report, providing insights from C-level tech leaders across industries. It provides analysis about why reskilling and upskilling are so valuable and which skills executives have the toughest time hiring for.

Want to read the full report?

An uphill battle to hire

In today's competitive job market, the challenges tech leaders face in recruitment have reached a disheartening level. As revealed by the area in hiring new talent. According to the C-Suite Perspective Report, 44% of tech leaders said cybersecurity was their top investment area this year.

1. CYBERSECURITY

According to IBM’s Cost of a Data Breach Report, 83% of organizations experienced a data breach in 2022, costing an average of $4.45 million.

Most tech leaders see the value of skills in these areas, given the weight of data breaches or a vulnerable attack surface. However, there’s still work to do. Executives cannot relent when it comes to cybersecurity.

Interested in Cybersecurity? Look at the Cybersecurity Career Journey

2. DATA SCIENCE

While data science has been around for decades, its applications and uses have expanded to nearly all corners of business today. According to a Deloitte Analytics Advantage survey, 96% of respondents felt analytics would become more important to their organization of the coming years.

Thirty percent of tech leaders report their workforces have skills gaps in data science, and 33% say it’s a priority to invest in for their organization.

3. CLOUD COMPUTING

According to G2, every single company uses at least one public or private cloud, and it estimates that 85% of all organizations will be “cloud first” by 2025.

Since cloud computing combines elements of both managing data and protecting that data from cybersecurity threats, the combination of these skills is highly in demand. More than one-quarter of tech leaders reported having critical skill gaps in cloud computing, and 36% maintain cloud as a top investment area for their organization.

Does Cloud Computing Fit Your Business Needs? Explore A Cloud Career Journey Today.

4. AI AND MACHINE LEARNING

The demand for AI and machine learning skills has fluctuated for decades, however, with the recent technological breakthroughs in foundation models, generative AI has become a hot commodity. Even though only 37% of leaders reported machine learning and AI as a priority skill for their teams, jobs that require AI skills will continue to surge.

Since generative AI is a subset of machine learning, its skill base comes from many existing skillsets such as data science and data engineering, but it also includes newer skills like prompt engineering and Natural Language Processing (NLP) as well as AI ethics, model curating, and training.

5. INFRASTRUCTURE SYSTEMS

Tech infrastructure and systems skills are in highly in demand due to their crucial role in digital transformation, cloud computing, e-commerce, AI/ML, and emerging technologies. It’s reported by the C-Suite Perspective that 25% of business leaders plan to invest in tech infrastructure, ranking this skill amongst the most essential.

In addition to this information, a recent IBM survey shows over 3,000 business leaders plan to invest heavily in their tech for 2023, chiefly in infrastructure and the interweaving of AI and infrastructure. The rise of remote work, among several other factors, has tech leaders agreeing that today’s modern businesses require a robust and scalable infrastructure to stay competitive.

The future of skilling

As tech evolves, the imperative to reskill and upskill tech workforces has become a necessity. It is the cornerstone of sustained success. As industries are disrupted by rapid advancements, the skills that once propelled tech teams to prominence may soon become obsolete.

Organizations need to be cognizant of their skill needs, and evaluate their upskilling, reskilling and recruiting efforts as the global talent pools shift around a never-stopping growth rate.

Embracing emerging tools and paradigms and continually updating skill sets will position tech teams to lead, create, and thrive in a future that demands expertise and the ability to embrace change with enthusiasm.

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How the new european union sustainability initiatives Will impact U.S. Companies https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/to-the-eu-and-beyond Thu, 17 Aug 2023 14:45:00 -0400 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/to-the-eu-and-beyond

Chances are, you’re already familiar with the slogan “Think globally, act locally.” For decades, climate change activists have encouraged us to focus on small-scale everyday decisions that can add up to a large-scale healthier planet.

Today, however, organizations need to “act globally” as well.

The Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) landscape continues to evolve across the globe. But, even as regulations and reporting requirements shift, organizations are increasingly expected to implement environmentally and socially conscious initiatives. With the EU’s newest environmental and social requirements, massive changes are underway that will not only affect EU countries, but many others, including the United States.

In light of Skillsoft’s second-annual CSR Survey — meant to help benchmark organizations’ global progress in CSR initiatives — we examine how European governments are addressing and establishing new regulations for corporate social responsibility.

What is the EU CSRD?

In November 2022, the European Council and the European Parliament approved new sustainability reporting requirements for the European Union. The European Union’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) prescribes new requirements for organizations to report sustainability disclosures across several topics pertaining to environmental and social issues, as well as to improve non-financial reporting.

The ultimate goal of the CSRD is to contribute to Europe’s 2050 climate-neutrality target and European Green Deal objectives, which include providing a “globally competitive and resilient industry, renovated energy efficient buildings, cleaner energy, and cutting-edge clean technological innovation.”

New reporting conditions will:

  • Require organizations to ensure that investors and stakeholders have access to the information they need to assess the impact of companies on people and the environment.
  • Assess financial risks and resulting opportunities to support climate change awareness and other sustainability issues.
  • Require companies to detail how their business strategy will mitigate risks and realize opportunities associated with environmental and social matters — and how environmental and social issues will impact business, beyond financial impact alone.

So, why was CSRD introduced? CSRD aims to address several shortcomings from past environmental and social initiatives, such as vagueness of reporting requirements, lack of comparability, non-compliance, and greenwashing. On a larger scale, it aims to facilitate an EU financial system that is increasingly sustainability-driven by allowing investors to make more informed decisions based on easily accessible and standardized sustainability data.

With the implementation of these progressive sustainability and climate policies, CSRD is working within the framework of existing policies and directives to ignite long-acting change on a huge scale. It impacts organizations in the United States doing business with the EU, and it also serves as an indication of potential sustainability regulations that may be enacted in other parts of the world in the future.

It’s (Not) All about the money

In addition to the EU’s new sustainability reporting requirements, European nations have also seen a shift in financial policy pertaining to both CSR and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives.

A few months after the approval of CSRD, on June 13, 2023, the European Commission published a new sustainable finance package. The package aims to strengthen the existing EU sustainable finance framework in three key areas:

EU Taxonomy. Proposed additions to the EU Taxonomy should enable investments in more industries and economic activities recognized as contributing to the EU’s environmental initiatives and CSRD standards. These include:

  • Sustainable use and protection of water and marine resources
  • Transition to a circular economy
  • Pollution prevention and control
  • Protection and restoration of biodiversity and ecosystems

ESG Ratings. ESG ratings providers perform an increasingly important role in the value of sustainable finance. So, the Commission proposes to expand the existing set of economic activities that contribute towards the objectives of climate change mitigation and adaptation to increase the reliability and transparency of ESG ratings activities in the EU. The proposal covers:

  • Using methodologies that are “rigorous, systematic, objective, and subject to validation.”
  • Publicly disclosing information on data sources, methodologies, and assumptions used in their activities and products.
  • Preventing and mitigating conflicts of interest.
  • Being authorized and supervised by the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA).

Transition Finance. The third part of the package includes recommendations on transition finance to guide investors, firms, and financial intermediaries on using the EU sustainable finance framework to regulate risks. According to the Commission, transition finance is defined as: “The financing of climate — and environmental performance improvements to transition towards a sustainable economy, at a pace that is compatible with the climate and environmental objectives of the EU.”

The EU is using transition finance to try to ease discrepancies between high demands for ESG products and the limited supply of investment opportunities considered “sustainable” and “taxonomy-aligned.”

With all this focus on European initiatives, you might ask: What has the U.S. done to establish itself as a leader in corporate social responsibility and environmental, social, and governance issues? The answer is a lot, but there’s still so much more to be done on both ends, and taking examples from the new EU guidelines is a great place to start.

What do these new initiatives mean for the United States?

Many American companies have operations in Europe. Therefore, the EU’s new sustainability reporting requirements will fundamentally change the disclosure landscape for all global companies with significant operations in the EU, including American ones.

In fact, the adoption of CSRD will impact more than 50,000 companies. By 2028, U.S. companies with over €150M of operations in the EU and at least one large subsidiary or branch must comply by the CSRD guidelines.

While it may take a while for these new regulations and guidelines to directly impact American-based companies, the EU’s highly ambitious efforts can still serve as a model for U.S. organizations.

But, that’s not to say that the United States isn’t implementing any initiatives of its own. Skillsoft’s most recent annual CSR report highlights areas where American companies are already striving to make a difference. See how individual roles impact professionals’ CSR perspectives.

With an emphasis on the future and a dedication to lasting environmental and social change, EU regulations are a promising starting point for the future of CSR, but it doesn’t end there. It’s high time we all work together — locally and globally — to affect meaningful and lasting change.

If you’re passionate about corporate social responsibility and how it’s being implemented in your organization and beyond, share your thoughts with us by filling out Skillsoft’s 2023 CSR Survey and start working towards making a difference today.

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How a Job Architecture Can Help Streamline Workforce Transformation https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/how-a-job-architecture-can-help-streamline-workforce-transformation Thu, 10 Aug 2023 09:00:00 -0400 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/how-a-job-architecture-can-help-streamline-workforce-transformation

Job architectures can take the guesswork out of workforce planning and development, and these tips can help you make the most of your architecture.

With 83 percent of organizations facing skills gaps today, workforce transformation is a nearly universal imperative. Yet it’s not always clear how to make a workforce transformation happen.

The process seems straightforward at the big-picture, broad-strokes level: Identify the skills your organization needs and then train employees to develop those skills. It’s the finer details that often elude us. How exactly do you pinpoint the specific skills you should cultivate to transform your workforce into the one you need?

It’s easy to determine whether a company needs data scientists. It’s much more challenging to find the employees whose skill sets overlap with data scientists, identify the hard and soft skills they’re missing, and connect them with the proper training to build those skills. But a successful workforce transformation requires such a roadmap.

The good news is there is a way to simplify the process of planning — and executing — a workforce transformation. You just have to leverage your organization’s job architecture.

What Is a Job Architecture, and How Can It Drive Workforce Development?

A job architecture is a systematic way of categorizing jobs in an organization.

  • At a high level, roles are grouped according to functional areas, like HR, finance, and legal.
  • Below that, they’re categorized by sub-function. In the finance function, for example, sub-functions might include tax, accounting, and payroll.
  • Finally, roles are sorted into distinct jobs within a sub-function. For example, in the tax sub-function, roles may be sorted into tax analyst, senior tax analyst, and tax manager. Each job would have an accompanying entry in the architecture, outlining the job’s unique title, skill set, and responsibilities.

A job architecture provides a scalable, globally relevant, market-aligned framework for all the jobs in an organization. This framework is useful for workforce transformation efforts because it allows organizational leaders to quickly understand exactly what skills a role requires and how different roles relate to each other.

Let’s go back to the example of a company that needs data scientists. If this organization has a job architecture in place, talent leaders can use it to craft a workforce transformation strategy like so:

  1. Talent leaders look at the data scientist job description to identify the skills the role requires.
  2. Talent leaders compare the skill sets of other roles to the skill set of the data scientist role, looking for jobs that require many of the same skills.
  3. Talent leaders see the company’s software engineers already have most of the skills necessary for the data scientist job.
  4. Talent leaders identify the specific skills the software engineers are missing — for example, statistical modeling and working with large data architectures.
  5. Talent leaders create a learning pathway that focuses on these missing skills, and they offer it to software engineers. The interested engineers use the pathway to become data scientists, closing the organization’s skills gap.

In short, talent leaders can use a job architecture to turn their high-level workforce transformation strategies into practical role-based learning programs that help close skills gaps. Role-based learning — defined as an employee development program that automatically connects learners with content that is relevant to their current roles and the roles they aspire to hold — takes the guesswork out of employee development. You know what roles you need to fill, which employees are closest to filling those roles, and what learning content to serve them.

Role-based learning can also help improve training program adoption rates. In a role-based learning scheme, employees can easily find content that’s relevant to their careers. The more relevant the training content is, the more learners will use it. Increased learner engagement means better results from learning programs.

6 Tips for Applying Your Job Architecture to Employee Development

1. Start Small

Like any significant organizational change, it may not be feasible — or even desirable — to get the entire company on board with job architectures and role-based learning programs all at once.

Instead, start with a smaller subgroup: a single team, business unit, or department. Look for a group where building a robust job architecture would make a quick, positive impact. Typically, that will be a group that has already identified a clear goal and is thinking about the workforce transformation it needs to reach that goal. Help this pilot group define a job architecture. Then, use the architecture to build a role-based learning program that targets the skills gaps keeping this group from its goal.

Starting small has a few advantages. You’ll need fewer resources and face fewer roadblocks to get the program off the ground. You can also use the small wins you rack up as proof of concept, which will help earn the buy-in you’ll need to expand role-based learning to other parts of the organization. Plus, you can use the lessons you learn from your first initiative to improve future iterations.

2. Get Executive Support

In addition to starting small, it’s important to get some early executive champions on your side. The goal is to eventually scale the job architecture and role-based learning programs to the entire organization, and that isn’t something a purely grassroots effort can achieve.

Getting support from executive leaders offers a couple of critical benefits. First, executive leaders can help clear bureaucratic red tape and other obstacles standing in your way, allowing your initiative to move more quickly.

Second, executive champions can act as role models for the rest of the organization, inspiring other leaders and managers to follow their example. People will find the benefits of role-based learning more credible and compelling if a trusted executive is the one touting them.

3. Ensure Your Job Architecture Is Reliable Before Moving to Role-Based Learning

Many organizations already have job architectures, so you may not be starting from scratch. However, these job architectures are not always as thorough as they could be. An incomplete architecture isn’t terribly useful for workforce development, as it won’t have the information you need to map clear learning paths.

Whether your subgroup is defining a brand new architecture or working with one that already exists, make sure that job architecture is accurate and robust before building a role-based learning program on top of it.

The architecture doesn’t have to be perfect, nor does it have to capture every single role in the organization — those are longer-term goals. But the job architecture any group uses for role-based learning should have the following features at a minimum:

  • The architecture captures every job in the team, unit, or department.
  • Each job is identified by a clear title.
  • Each job is accompanied by an entry in the architecture that captures the most critical skills and responsibilities required for the role.
  • Job descriptions are consistent across the entire team, unit, or department.
  • Jobs are grouped logically based on shared functions, responsibilities, skill sets, or other criteria.

If your architecture needs more fleshing out, resources like O*NET and the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) offer databases of skills and job descriptions you can use for guidance.

Once you have a strong job architecture, you can craft a role-based learning program. There are multiple ways to approach this, such as:

  • Creating training paths to help employees attain specific roles (e.g., creating a path for non-finance employees to become entry-level financial analysts)
  • Creating training paths for employees to improve in their current roles or functions (e.g., creating an “HR fundamentals” course for all new hires in HR)
  • Creating training paths for specific job levels (e.g., creating a path to help all managers improve their communication and feedback skills)

4. Build Role-Based Learning Paths Around Formal Job Descriptions

Employees’ responsibilities can drift from their formal job descriptions over time, especially when skills gaps or talent shortages force them to take on tasks that wouldn’t typically fall under their purviews. This job function drift can muddy the waters when creating role-based learning paths.

For example, a lack of cybersecurity personnel may mean that system administrators are handling key security duties in addition to their regular tasks. This means the organization needs to establish a clear cybersecurity training pathway to fill its skills gaps.

Remember, job architectures should result in clear job descriptions that outline the concrete skills each role requires. Build role-based learning around these job descriptions, not the ad-hoc and informal responsibilities employees may have picked up over the years.

5. Keep Job Descriptions Consistent

One of the most important functions of a job architecture is that it acts as a universal, scalable framework. The job descriptions it produces should be used and understood throughout the organization. Put another way: Instead of every team having its own flavor of inside sales rep, every inside sales rep role should use the same job description and the same set of core skills.

This standardization of roles is critical for workforce planning and development purposes, but it may receive pushback from teams that have grown attached to their unique spins on roles. One way to handle this problem is to let teams use whatever titles they want as long as they adopt the corresponding job description. If one team wants to refer to inside sales reps as “customer outreach specialists,” let them — with the understanding that those customer outreach specialists will need the same skills as any inside sales rep sitting elsewhere in the organization.

6. Embrace the Full Spectrum of Job Architecture Use Cases

Up to now, we’ve primarily focused on using job architectures to drive workforce transformation by strategically closing skills gaps. But job architectures can also support other kinds of learning and development efforts. Examples include:

  • Coaching: When preparing high performers for leadership roles, job architectures can help you identify the specific skills they need to cultivate before they advance through the ranks.
  • Performance management: Performance management conversations can often be fraught experiences for employees, who may perceive their “opportunities for improvement” as personal flaws. Managers can make these conversations less emotionally charged by grounding performance management in job architectures. The manager can point to the architecture as an objective measure of the skills the employee has mastered and the skills they could sharpen to reach the next level. In this way, the manager reframes the conversation — it’s no longer about the employee falling short but about how they can go further.
  • Career pathing and internal mobility: Job architectures offer employees practical maps for how they can progress in their careers. This allows them to take career mobility into their own hands, as they can see how to leverage their existing skills to move into new roles.
  • Employee retention: When top performers feel like they’ve peaked in their roles, they often grow disengaged and start looking for new jobs. Managers can use job architectures to keep them from jumping ship. A manager can sit down with their employee and use the architecture to identify new opportunities in the company. That way, top performers don’t have to leave the organization to find their next challenge.

Inspire Learners - and Transform Your Workforce - With Role-Based Learning

Job architectures can bring a new level of clarity to workforce planning efforts. By concretely defining roles and highlighting the relationships between them, a job architecture makes it easier for organizations to strategically develop employees and close their most pressing skills gaps.

Of course, building a job architecture and a role-based learning program from scratch is a tall order — but you don’t have to start at zero. Skillsoft is introducing role-based learning in its AI-driven, online skilling platform. Learners can choose from more than 100 predefined roles, and Skillsoft will automatically deliver relevant content to their personalized home pages.

Role-based learning inspires people to develop skills by offering meaningful development opportunities aligned with their career goals. Elevate your workforce by making it easier for learners to discover transformative learning experiences. Learn more about how the Skillsoft platform can help propel your workforce transformation strategy.

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The 7 Skills Every Full-Stack Developer Needs https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/the-7-skills-every-full-stack-developer-needs Tue, 08 Aug 2023 09:25:00 -0400 ravi.gd@skillsoft.com (Ravi Gd) https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/the-7-skills-every-full-stack-developer-needs

Given how broad full-stack development is, IT pros and leaders can find it hard to pinpoint the most important skills they need to succeed. The following seven competencies are essential.

Full-stack web developers are some of the most agile tech pros around. Skilled in both front- and back-end development, full-stack devs are as comfortable creating eye-catching websites as they are securing databases and working with application programming interfaces (APIs).

That versatility makes full-stack devs highly valuable to IT organizations, as evidenced by the average full-stack developer’s salary. A mid-level full-stack developer earns close to $120,000 a year, while more seasoned devs pull in upwards of $150,000.

But the broad base of skills and knowledge that makes full-stack devs such hot commodities can also make it hard for employers to find the right developers — and for IT pros to break into the field in the first place.

In other IT career paths, like cybersecurity and cloud computing, people can earn certifications to showcase their skills, and IT leaders can rely on those same certifications to find or build the skills their organizations need. Full-stack development doesn’t have the same kind of certification-based career progression. It’s much more flexible, with full-stack web devs specializing in different tools and technologies based on the projects they work on.

The downside to this flexibility is that employers don’t necessarily have an objective standard to measure every dev against. At the same time, current and aspiring full-stack devs may struggle to pinpoint the skills they should invest in.

But there are some core competencies that every full-stack developer needs, even if there are no universally recognized full-stack developer certifications. IT pros who want to thrive in the world of full-stack web development — and IT leaders aiming to cultivate full-stack dev skills among their teams — should take note.

What Skills Do Full-Stack Developers Need?

The Skills Every Full-Stack Developer Needs

The “full” in “full-stack developer” refers to the fact that these devs know both front- and back-end development. The front end encompasses all the user-facing parts of apps and websites, while the back end deals with the behind-the-scenes code powering those apps and sites.

In practice, full-stack developers do everything from tweaking website visuals to building complex databases and ensuring the front and back ends work smoothly together.

But what specific skills do they need to achieve all of this? Let’s take a look.

Tech Skills for Full-Stack Developers

1. Front-End Programming Languages and Frameworks

When building stylized, responsive front-end interfaces, most full-stack devs rely on the fundamentals of HyperText Markup Language (HTML), Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), and JavaScript. Devs may also use more specialized languages for some types of projects, like Swift for Apple apps.

Full-stack devs must also be familiar with more complex frameworks for managing front-end apps. Two of the most common frameworks include React, a JavaScript library for building user interfaces, and Redux, a JavaScript library that helps manage application states.

2. Back-End Programming Languages and Frameworks

As with front-end development, the back end offers an array of languages to choose from. Some of the most common include Java, Python, and C languages like C, C++, and C#. Many full-stack developers also use frameworks like Node.js and Express.js, which allow them to write and run server-side code using JavaScript.

Back-end development often involves creating, managing, securing, and connecting databases. To that end, full-stack developers need expertise with database management systems like PostgreSQL. Full-stack developers should also be familiar with writing and using APIs to connect disparate services and databases.

3. Cybersecurity Skills

Like other software developers, full-stack devs must build security into their websites and apps. Unsecured services are almost guaranteed to be hacked, which can lead to stolen data, angry users, and even legal action.

In terms of cybersecurity skills, full-stack devs must at least understand web security basics like authentication and authorization, system logging and monitoring, and protection against code injection attacks. On the back end, full-stack developers should have a strong command of data security concepts like encryption, role-based access control, and transport layer security (TLS) protocols.

4. User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX)

Full-stack web developers don’t build interfaces in a vacuum — they build them for real people. With knowledge of