Is Your Skills Development Program Measuring the Right Data?

Data is as important to crafting good learning programs as it is every other aspect of business. But what kind of data should you track?

Written by Gary Eimerman
Published on Oct. 24, 2022
Is Your Skills Development Program Measuring the Right Data?
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Our world is becoming more data-driven than ever before. Business leaders are increasingly relying on data-based insights to make key decisions for their organizations. In fact, according to McKinsey, “By 2025 … most employees will use data to optimize nearly every aspect of their work.” 

Using data to gauge performance and decision-making should touch all elements of a business’s strategic landscape, including measuring how well learning and development initiatives are preparing employees for the future of work. From my experience working with customers across the globe, however, many organizations are not prioritizing the right metrics when upskilling their teams. 

Rather than focusing on things like the number of courses taken or the amount of time spent on an upskilling platform, businesses need to align their upskilling programs to specific business objectives and learning outcomes. Here’s how to ensure your skills development program captures the most important metrics. 

3 Metrics for Gauging Learning Programs

  • Skills proficiency.
  • Technologist efficiency.
  • Time to onboard new team members.

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Why Are Skill Development Metrics Important?

Technology teams must constantly learn new things in order to ensure that their tech skills remain relevant. Data shows, however, that many tech learners today are still falling behind in key skill proficiency areas. Pluralsight’s 2022 State of Upskilling Report shows that large skills gaps exist in areas such as cybersecurity, cloud computing, and data storage, all of which are critical functions for most businesses today. 

How do we close these skills gaps within our organizations? Making an investment into learning and development solutions that give technology learners access to on-demand training resources is a great first step. Simply having these resources is not enough, however. Business leaders must ensure that their technology teams are truly learning and growing through these resources.

That’s where skill development metrics come in. These new metrics help businesses understand whether their technology teams are getting faster and more effective at bringing innovation to market. Most tech skills only stay relevant for a maximum of two-and-a-half years before they’re outdated. Because of this, technology leaders should feel a sense of urgency around ensuring that their L&D investments are chipping away at the skills gaps that exist in their organizations. 

Assessing the viability of your skills development program necessitates a data-driven approach. But not all data is created equal, and usage metrics such as course completion and total view time on upskilling platforms is only part of the story. 


The Metrics That Matter Most

Technologists are one of the greatest assets that an organization can have. According to McKinsey, organizations that empower developers by creating the right environment for them to innovate average four to five times faster revenue growth than companies that focus less on engineering such growth and development. This means that accurately measuring the upskilling efforts of your technology teams is a high-stakes endeavor. 

Rather than focusing on simple metrics that track the activity of your technology teams in a given learning platform, a more accurate picture of tech upskilling comes from measuring how well these technologists are increasing their skill proficiency and their efficiency in order to build better, ship faster and innovate more. 

When looking at the success of a tech skills development program, business leaders should focus on how well their technology teams are developing skills to implement new technologies for the business, as well as how they are deepening their expertise in existing technologies. These metrics can be measured through skill assessments. Such tests measure the proficiency of a learner in a given skill, software, or programming language. 

Additionally, a key metric of upskilling success is the time it takes to onboard and ramp up new technologists. Organizations that are able to get their technologists up to speed quickly and efficiently are implementing successful upskilling practices. On the flip side, if an organization is slow to ramp up its technologists, there may be bottlenecks in the learning process that are keeping team members from doing their jobs effectively. A technology organization’s ability to upskill its technologists will also affect the rate of product development. 


Putting Data into Practice 

To ensure that L&D efforts are successful, business leaders and individual learners alike must consistently examine their upskilling data. This may involve tracking changes to skill proficiency over time by identifying a baseline for a given skill within your organization. After establishing the baseline, organizations can measure the changes in skill proficiency over a certain period of time through tools like skills assessments. 

Additionally, surveying your technology teams to find out what’s working and what isn’t can be a powerful tool. According to the Harvard Business Review, surveying employees is one of the best ways to measure engagement, including in company initiatives like upskilling. Administering monthly or quarterly surveys to gauge employee satisfaction with upskilling resources can give rich insights into how well your L&D solutions are working for your technologists.

Whatever tactics your organization uses, effective measurement practices are crucial to skill development programs. Once your organization has identified the best way to measure upskilling initiatives, it’s important to put that data to use by making adjustments to your L&D program as needed. This will help better support the ongoing health of your upskilling efforts with concrete facts rather than conjecture. 

In order to make the most out of your investments in upskilling, an effective support system and measurement strategy need to be part of the equation. Simply providing upskilling resources is not enough to ensure that your teams are learning and innovating. Concrete skill development data is the most effective way to see where your L&D efforts are succeeding or failing. Enabling managers to have career development conversations and use data effectively in helping develop their team members will ensure the environment is right for successful skills development.

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The Takeaway 

With technology skills gaps slowing down innovation, some of the world's most influential organizations are making heavy investments in learning and development resources for their technology teams. A skills development program is only as good as the concrete results it produces, however. Ensuring that your organization is focusing on the right skills development metrics, such as skill proficiency and ability to translate learnings into product development, is much more valuable than simply tracking your teams’ usage statistics on upskilling platforms. Effective measurement of upskilling successes and failures is a crucial component in creating a culture of learning and a work environment that fosters innovation.

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