Upskilling, It’s A Level Playing Field

24 November 2017 | Matt Rosenquist | About a 3 minute read
Tags: Analyst, associate, develop, developer, graduate, learn, Learning, pair programming, tech, tools, upskill, Upskilling

I recently heard, the sentiment that upskilling others should only be done by those who are senior and with lots of experience in a particular subject. While I strongly disagree, I am happy the sentiment was raised as it is the first time that I heard an opinion on the subject; It struck me that the expectation of who should upskill is not a subject that is really talked about and left open for assumption. For AND this is particularly important to clarify this, as upskilling is part of our culture and a quote that is often mentioned is “The best way to be a 10x developer is to help 5 other developers be 2x developers.” 


I recently went through the AND Digital Bootcamp (a great experience), during which we worked on a project with lots of people with varying levels of experience. This was a great upskilling experience for me, a developer with over 15 years of experience, and some of my colleagues who have only a couple of months of training. My colleagues that are fresh from their studies have the luxury of not having to unlearn the old practices, and have had the benefit of learning the current best practices refined from those that came before them. After working with those normally seen as “junior devs”, I reset my perspectives on a few areas that they see as that’s just the way you do things, for example Test Driven Development (TDD) and Pair Programming.


Upskilling is not about mass knowledge transfer. Upskilling can work when there is just a small difference in knowledge. But beyond that, I feel a large part of upskilling is sharing the passion and the benefit. In many ways, this can work very effectively as learning little bits at a time, allowing time for the information to be absorbed and put into practice, is a well-known way of retaining knowledge.


Upskilling can take on many guises; it is not just formal training. In some cases, it can happen without anyone realising – simply pairing with others can work wonders. Being enthusiastic when a colleague has tried something new can help cement that new knowledge for them.


The ability to upskill within AND is particularly important as the skills that we develop prior to joining AND Digital, may not be the skills that we use on internal or client site. The ability to be able to upskill in a new area is encouraged, and a large part of that is being receptive to the sources of information, whatever that may be. Many of the tools, frameworks and languages that we use require use over time to become proficient in, tutorials and reading are not enough. This is where our colleagues within AND are invaluable, and being able to gain knowledge from their experience is key, whether they have 20 years or a few months of experience.


Effective upskilling of others can be done in many forms; the key is a little bit of knowledge and a whole load of passion alongside the willingness of the participant to learn. So, if you have something to share, don’t hold back on account of seniority or the thinking that you need to be an SME.


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