The Best Way to Prepare Your Team for Technical Certifications
Employees who earn technical certifications drive outcomes that business leaders care about — increased productivity, accuracy, and quality of work, along with reduced project costs. But even if leaders are concerned about seeing the return on investment with technical certifications, it might not be obvious how to help your employees prepare for them. We asked several Udemy Business technical certification instructors — Jason Dion, Scott Duffy, and Alan Rodrigues — to share their tips and tricks.
Familiarize yourself with the available modes of learning
In the past, employers that wanted to offer technical certification education to their employees had limited options. One of the most common styles of preparing employees for certification involved paying an instructor to come in and lead an intensive boot camp. This approach to development costs several thousands of dollars per learner and takes time away from learners’ daily tasks. On the other side of the spectrum, books were a low-cost and easily accessible option, but they required a lot of heads-down time to study and absorb the information. Today there are plenty of more flexible options. Here are some of the insights the Udemy Business instructors shared about the different learning modes available now.
Jason Dion is a big proponent of video content because it’s fast and convenient: “For a lot of things, it’s easier to see a video to demonstrate it. Something that might take five to ten pages in a book could be shown in a two-minute video, and it’s going to be a lot more effective because I can watch the person doing the steps and follow along.”
Unlocking Technical Certifications
Udemy Business instructors share insights into which certifications are the most important to keep your talent up-to-date with technology changes.
Practice exams give learners the chance to put their knowledge to the test — literally. By going through exercises that are likely to appear on the certification exam, they’ll get a good sense of how prepared they are and identify any knowledge or skill gaps. Jason says practice exams are one of the most important ways to prepare for certification.
Virtual lab environments
Virtual lab environments or sandboxes are another way learners can gain practical experience. “It’s very easy to practice using a lab product,” says Scott Duffy. Jason adds that virtual lab environments are ideal because you can have your team gain hands-on experience without affecting your production network.
Maximize the support your company and managers provide
Offering training to help prepare for certification is a great first step, but there’s more your company and managers can do to maximize employees’ chances of success.
Create learning paths
Technical certification skills often build on each other, so starting with foundational knowledge is helpful before moving on to more advanced topics. Alan Rodrigues recommends having teams or departments create their own learning paths. When you have an online learning platform like Udemy Business, it’s easy for technical leaders to outline the necessary skills or courses they’d like their team members to take.
Structure workload to allow for study time
When managers get involved in the certification preparation process, they can support their team members by allowing time to study, says Scott Duffy. For example, if a manager knows the certification exam is coming up, they can take some story points away from the people taking the test to allow more time to study or prepare. They can also work with their team members to predict when their workload might be heavier and when it would be best to avoid scheduling the certification exam.
Regularly ask team members about their professional goals
Scott Duffy says the certification provides an ideal starting point for professional development conversations. If managers know someone on their team is about to take a certification exam or just completed one, it’s a good time to check in about their longer-term goals and career plans. And if you’re the person doing the certification, don’t be afraid to take this opportunity to kick off these conversations with your manager.
Technical certification training is just the start
If you’re going to invest the time and money in technical certifications for your team, you want to ensure you’re setting them up for success. Simply providing a learning and development budget or giving access to training materials still puts the onus on employees to find the time and acquire the skills and knowledge they’ll need.
The tips Jason, Scott, and Alan shared here give you a few ideas for getting started. Looking for even more practical tips on helping your employees gain technical certifications? Watch the on-demand webinar, Unlocking Technical Certifications.