With rising unemployment and so many candidates competing for available jobs, employability is a key factor. Competition is tight and employers are looking for new employees that would hit the ground running and create value on the job with as little training as possible. Employers also realize there isn’t necessarily a correlation between having a college degree and being qualified for a job. A college degree may show a candidate’s ability to study, but it is not an indicator of certain technical skills or the ability to solve problems. Job readiness is therefore more important than ever in today’s business environment.
So what does it take to be job-ready in tech?
The rate at which technology trends evolve is staggering. It seems at times that a moment after the adoption of a new technology, it’s already outdated, and a newer version or an alternative technology already takes its place.
In the past, a computer science degree was enough to get a job, but times are changing. The job market gets more competitive and university curriculums may not necessarily get updated to reflect industry requirements. UCLA’s student newspaper, the Daily Bruin, stated that its “computer science department is largely based on 20th-century theoretical foundations of the field.” This explains why more CS students are attending coding boot camps nowadays. “Graduates get jobs based on their concrete knowledge and skills that match the industry’s current requirements, not based on academic syllabi that might be outdated by the time a student graduates,” explains Eran Lasser, founder and CEO of Wawiwa, a tech training provider.
Employers care less about certifications nowadays, theoretic credentials, or academic degrees. When it comes to hiring for tech positions, employers care about one thing more than anything — a candidate’s ability to get the job done. They want to see real work examples that showcase a candidate’s tech skills and capabilities.
The skills learned and gained through actually ‘doing the job’ are crucial and it’s important for candidates to be able to demonstrate what they’ve coded so they’d be hired as developers. That’s why MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) that aim to teach tech don’t necessarily suffice. Online courses usually include recorded frontal lectures, and only a few of them include hands-on work experience and assignments that the student must perform. Even if such assignments exist, they’re usually not mandatory, checked, or graded given the thousands of students that enroll online. Therefore, most MOOC students are mostly “viewers” and very few are actually “doers,” who would have something to show for at the end of the online course.
Tech job or not, employers want to hire people that are team players — people that are cooperative and collaborate well with others. They don’t want employees that are difficult to work with. If candidates have examples of how well they’ve worked in teams, it indicates to employers their ability to collaborate effectively on the job. The problem is that many university programs and online classes give individual assignments and tests. As a result, many candidates don’t get the opportunity to practice teamwork until they’re interviewing for a job, which might be too late.
In an era when companies focus on technology and data, it’s easy to dismiss the ability to build relationships and collaborate as a nice-to-have rather than a must-have. However, research shows the opposite. A report by McKinsey says it best: “Social, emotional, and technological skills are becoming more crucial as intelligent machines take over more physical, repetitive, and basic cognitive tasks. Soft skills—which are needed to effectively communicate, problem-solve, collaborate, and organize—are becoming more important for success.
As we’ve seen, there are several requirements to demonstrate job readiness. But how can tech reskillers — those who left a previous profession to pivot to a career in tech — display job readiness for tech positions, if they’ve never had the chance to work on a real-life project?
When looking for the right tech training program, tech reskillers should make sure that the programs they pursue include actual coding work in the latest tech stack and final projects that would allow them to demonstrate to hiring managers real code and tech skills as proof of their capabilities. They should look for training programs that focus on teamwork and develop, in addition to technical skills, the soft skills needed to work well with other people – peers and managers.
The fact of the matter is that few training programs produce job-ready graduates. Wawiwa Tech Training is one such tech training program provider. Wawiwa cares the most about graduates’ job readiness and employability. It therefore dedicates 70% of the training program to actual hands-on practice of the taught materials and skills – performed both independently and in small groups.
Student projects are reviewed by trainers and industry mentors and feedback is provided – on both knowledge and skills – so that students can learn, improve, and grow.
Wawiwa works with its local partners to establish a local advisory board of leading tech companies, who get to influence the programs’ curriculum so that students are taught the exact knowledge and skills that would be useful for them to get hired upon graduation. Programs are 6-to-9 month long, which ensures the depth of the studies and the practice on the one hand, and the relevance of the taught lessons on the other hand. This results in very high employment rates among Wawiwa programs’ graduates.