Monday, 09 September 2019 08:34

NTT builds skills with Pluralsight

By
NTT global talent manager Anthony Shaw NTT global talent manager Anthony Shaw

Technology services provider NTT is using Pluralsight as a major part of its efforts to reskill and upskill its technical staff.

NTT (formerly Dimension Data) is working increasingly in areas such as cloud, DevOps and cybersecurity, global talent manager Anthony Shaw told iTWire, and that means the company needs to upskill and reskill its employees.

Traditional external classroom training is neither scalable nor sustainable when you're looking at training 4500 engineers in modern technology (AWS, Azure, etc) and practices (DevOps, cybersecurity, etc), he said.

So NTT has turned instead to online training platform Pluralsight as this allows employees to learn and practice new skills as a part of their working week.

They are given a target of two hours a week spent learning new skills, whether that involves a high-level overview or a deep dive. Employees also meet in face to face groups to discuss what they have learned and to share ideas.

Some, including graduate program participants, are encouraged to do as much as 10 hours training a week.

The company has seen a massive uplift in skills, he said. Importantly, online training means people don't have to wait weeks or months until the next course is run. Instead, they can start working on a new skill as soon as the need arises.

While NTT already had some online training resources, overall use more than doubled after adopting Pluralsight in 2017, and is still growing at around 25% per quarter.

Furthermore, individual's use of the platform can be seen growing from month to month, he observed.

One reason is that platforms such as AWS and Azure release new features every month, so there's a regular need to learn about them.

In a sense, the adoption of Pluralsight has democratised training at NTT. Previously, 75% of training expenditure went on 13% of the workforce. But now, all technical staff - around one third of the total headcount - have access to Pluralsight courses.

This upskilling has led to genuine career advancement. Examples include an engineer promoted to a senior solutions position, a junior employee who is now an automation engineer, and another person has become an AWS trainer.

The Australian operation has a particular focus on cybersecurity and automation, said Shaw.

The only compulsory courses deal with GDPR, information security, and ethics. Apart from that, NTT staff are free to study whatever they think will be useful, although some guidance is provided for those who are new to a particular area or who are known to need deeper training in a specific area.

Significantly, even though Pluralsight is licensed by the seat, NTT has chosen not to grant access only to people in particular roles.

Any member of the technical staff can use the system to increase their knowledge, whether that's to help them do their current job, to explore other roles, or because they are actively looking to move to a different area.

A lot of people are exploring hot topics such as data science, said Shaw.

The value of Pluralsight courses in developing the skills needed to serve NTT's clients is apparent, he said.

"There is a tech skills shortage," Pluralsight ANZ director Fiona Sweeney told iTWire. Conventional training is too expensive, yet a company's willingness to invest in its employees' skills is regarded positively by job candidates.

A Pluralsight licence provides access to the complete catalog of more than 6500 courses prepared by around 1200 experts, including "some really great Australian authors," she said.

The platform can assess an individual's skill level, and deliver the training needed to get them from where they are to where they need to be in a quick and cost-effective way.

While Pluralsight provides pathways to specific skills (eg, developing with Angular.js) or to specific roles (eg, Microsoft Azure AI Engineer), companies using the platform can create custom pathways.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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