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International Day of Education: How continued learning unlocks competitive advantages


Matt Piddington

VP Services

In this article, Matt Piddington (VP Services, Westcon Europe) explores why ongoing education is paramount for maintaining a competitive advantage in the ever-changing world of technology.

In today’s rapidly evolving technology landscape, the International Day of Education is a poignant reminder of education’s crucial role in shaping our future. For businesses – especially those in our industry – continued learning is not just a buzzword but a strategic imperative.

Research by The World Bank and The Global Innovation Index shows strong correlations between higher skill proficiency and economic advances. In fact, the combined average GDP per capita of countries is four times higher in countries where learners have cutting-edge proficiency scores (versus countries where learners are falling behind).

Embracing continued learning

To stay ahead of the curve, businesses need to foster a culture of continuous learning. Organisations with a strong commitment to employee learning and development are more likely to be market leaders in their respective industries.

This commitment not only attracts top talent but also ensures that existing employees remain adept at using the latest technologies, allowing the firm to innovate and maintain a competitive advantage.

In a 2021 study by McKinsey, 87% of companies surveyed said they had skills gaps or expected to within a few years. What’s more, 78% of leaders said capability building is important to their organisations’ long-term growth.

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report shows similar evidence: 6 in 10 workers will require training before 2027, but only half of workers have access to adequate training opportunities today.

The role of training and certification programs

Training and certification programs are instrumental in giving professionals the skills needed to navigate the complex tech landscape.

A recent study by Pearson Vue demonstrates that investing in IT certifications impacts the bottom line for businesses, with the ROI per credentialled employee estimated to be as high as $30,000.

Similarly, 64% of IT decision makers estimate that each credentialled IT employee adds $10,000 or more in the additional value of their contributions compared to their non-certified counterparts.

At Westcon-Comstor, we firmly believe that people are the greatest asset and biggest competitive advantages for any business. Although technology is driving digital transformation and market disruption, ensuring the workforce has the necessary skills and confidence to drive those transformations and navigate today’s marketplace is critical.

Put it this way: nobody would suggest buying a car without learning how to drive first. Technology is no different.

Enhance innovation and increase performance

A culture of learning in the workplace drives innovation. This doesn’t just mean formal training; it also means embracing failure and creating a safe environment where people can learn from mistakes and grow over time.

On that note, a key measure for businesses is IT project failure. Today, the rate for this remains extremely high. According to the Standish Group Chaos Report, only 29% of IT project implementations are successful, while 19% are considered utter failures.

Elsewhere, McKinsey reports that 17% of IT projects go so badly that they can threaten the very existence of the company.

One of the most effective ways to drive performance is to ensure your organisation has the right skills and capabilities. Every day, organisations make significant technology investments to drive their organisational strategy – but they fail to understand the skills and competencies needed to recognise the benefits of these technologies. This needs to change.

To bridge this skills gap, employers should offer reskilling and upskilling programmes. These help employees train in the skills that the organisation is lacking, and it benefits both the business and the individual.

Delivering the organisational strategy

A question I often ask organisations is: ‘Do you have the skills and capability to disrupt yourself?’

Businesses often don’t take the time to understand their organisations’ learning requirements. At Weston-Comstor, we recommend that organisations conduct clear personal development planning and consider the skills and competencies needed across the business to deliver their organisational strategy.

This should start with clear mapping of skills and competencies against a job role, using frameworks like the Skills Framework for Information Age and the European e-Competency Framework which highlight best practice skills and competency levels.

Over time, this gives organisations the ability to benchmark their current capabilities against these evolving frameworks and make clear development plans for new and existing talent, ultimately ensuring the right skills and competencies can be met to deliver the organisational strategy.

How can Westcon-Comstor help?

We provide a comprehensive range of learning services, designed to help businesses maximise their competitive edge by enhancing the skills and competencies of their workforce.

This includes award-winning technical training from Westcon-Comstor Academy, which offers 1,000+ courses in cybersecurity, networking, cloud, and collaboration solutions – all available in different languages, locations, and time zones, as well as in-person and online formats.

Many of these trainings also lead to vendor certifications. We also provide fully funded enablement and training to partners to boost sales and skills across the channel.

Our Westcon-Comstor Learning management system also consolidates over 3,000 learning objects, covering partner enablement, vendor-certified courses, presales content, and more. The platform also features fully funded 3D practice labs for immersive hands-on experiences with various technology vendors.

Lastly, our Tech Xpert community for trading partners offers an exclusive space for technology experts to enhance their knowledge and expertise. Members receive unique training, insights, events, networking opportunities, and rewards to drive a competitive advantage, increased engagement, and adoption of the latest technologies within the security portfolio.

Learn more about Westcon-Comstor Academy.