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2 July 2021

How to setup a learning strategy in your company?

As an agency, you'll need to make sure that your developers are constantly learning: Technology is constantly on the move, so should the skillset of developers. While training those developers is one option, there are many other ways as well. All-in-all, there needs to be a corporate strategy for learning, a policy to make sure skills are kept up-to-date Here's a sum up.

An example: How Magento evolves

Take, for an example, Magento. With Magento 2, its stack was already extended quite a bit, moving into new techniques like composer and DI. But things didn't stop there. MSI, GraphQL and PWA Studio were brought out. Recently, Magento 2.4 has enforced ElasticSearch. Hyva was released. In short, a Magento developer (frontend or backend) needs to keep learning to keep up with all of these changes.

Attending conferences & trainings

One proven way of learning what is new, is to attend conferences. Yireo has organized conferences like Reacticon and MageTestFest, but there are numerous other great developer events like MageTitans, MeetMagento conference and local meetups. Online or offline, by sending devs to conferences, you'll make sure they are hearing about newer tech in time. Also, it gives their confidence a boost, because it allows them to be part of the bigger community.

Trainings is another obvious choice: Online or offline, in-person or on-demand, self-learning or classroom-based - there are many multiple ways to follow a training nowadays. The main point here is that with a conference a topic is often introduced but talks are often too short to cover all relevant aspects. With a training, you can be assured that all aspects of such a topic are covered. Mostly, these trainings are commercial, but worth the investment. As in, an investment paid for by the employer.

Keep learning at your own pace

Besides these trainings and events, there is also the option to learn at your own pace. This could be through complete self-learning: Some people are skilled enough to dive into any topic independently and without any help. The danger is still that either the person in question is overestimating her/his own skills, or that some topics are overlooked. I've found myself often in the company of lead developers, that are under the impression that they have seen it all, while actually their skillset is missing vital pieces. And projects suffer because of this. By learning from others, this danger is reduced.

This is where online videos and tutorials could play a role. The developer is able to determine by him- or herself which topics get priority. Still, this does not work for everyone: Some of us simply need more interaction, or more guidance. For them, On-Demand trainings gives a bit more structure: They can still fill in the timeslots themselves, but are pushed into a certain direction by the program.

Learn from each other

The social bit of learning is important to keep in mind. A conference or a classroom training is by definition followed in group form. But with online learning (videos, tutorials, On-Demand training), the social aspect is often missing. This could mean that self-paced learning is simply not for you. But it could also mean that the social part simply needs to be filled in differently:

The knowledge could be consumed perhaps in a self-paced way. But the social part could be added on top of this. Think about in-company pizza sessions, pair programming or crowd programming, friday afternoons dedicated to sharing tips & tricks.

Checking up upon things

Last but not least, there needs to be some kind of validation. After a set of trainings, you could become certified. And certification is definitely helpful when it comes to validating your skills. However, there is not a certification for everything - some topics are simply not included. Instead of dropping the validation of those skills, it would be better to come up with your own validation of some kind.

You could setup your own tests, undertake in practical coding assignments or simply evaluate the knowledge in 1-on-1 interviews. It doesn't matter whether it is perfect or not, some validation is better than nothing. And take note that skills are not just measured in hard facts: You'll also want to make sure that skills match up with the capabilities of a developer - some devs are smarter than others, so you can't just demand the same skills for everyone.

Setting a skill matrix makes sense here, with not only hard skills but also soft skills. And make sure to include a personal learning path in here as well.

Where Yireo is able to help

By looking at all of the options for learning, Yireo simply tries to offer something for every methodology. Besides the developer events Reacticon and MageTestFest, Yireo - with me, personally, as a trainer - is stepping in to provide trainings in various formats:

  • On-Demand training - With online videos and full student notes, you can learn in the way that fits you best. We still encourage for you to pick up on the social part: Let developers share their learning experiences in weekly sessions, or via pair programming sessions, or something. We can provide you at least with the right knowledge.

  • Blended Learning - A variation of this is (what we call) blended learning. It is the same as the On-Demand training, but now with interaction: Teachers help is available via chat or email. And there are scheduled Q&A sessions to communicate with other students and the teacher.

  • Remote Classroom Trainings - Then there are the (usual) remote classrooms aka live online trainings. Through Zoom, you can attend a traditional classroom with other students and the teacher. Some of these classes are also available as an On-Demand training, which means that the price for the classroom also includes access to the On-Demand training (for later reference). Via our Yireo Agenda you can see which classes are taking place when.

  • Live Classrooms - Besides remote online classrooms, we have always run in the past live classroom training as well: Mostly in The Netherlands, but sometimes abroad as well (Germany, UK, even India). Corona has changed the business model of Yireo entirely, so we don't feel an urge to organize these on-site classrooms anymore. But things might change in the future.

  • In-company training (online, on-site) - Instead of attending a classroom training, there is also an option for a custom training, specific to your company. As soon as more than 5 employees are joining the training, an in-company training makes more sense (for you, economically, and for us, because we are not here to rip you off).

  • Educational Subscription - Last but not least, we have been offering our Educational Subscription for some time now. It is basically a commitment from you as an agency to schedule in-company training every month, which lowers the price, but which also guarantees that Yireo is able to guide and assist individual employees in their learning path. Slots are very limited.

All in all, we believe that with this portfolio we are able to help anyone with any training. What we did not cover yet is what the requirement is for that training: Sometimes it is simply to help newcomers understand the technology as quickly as possible. Sometimes it is to prepare for certifications. Either way, Yireo is here to help.

Summary

With our portfolio, we have already helped 1000s (no kidding) of developers in more than a decade time. And by offering more variety in our training program - different formats, different sizes - we hope to help many more.

But that's not all. Learning new skills is more than just hiring a trainer to transfer knowledge. It should be part of the culture of your company, it should be part of the weekly schedule. We are happy to have you hire us, but we see that this only works out fine if there is also a positive attitude towards acquiring new skills. And you need to grow a culture to make that possible.

What do you as an agency do to make learning a success?

Posted on 2 July 2021

Checkout our methodology for keeping devs up-to-date - events, On-Demand trainings, blended learning, online and on-site classrooms and much more!

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