From the beginning, our focus has been on helping people begin new careers and helping companies address the tech skills gap – two goals that go hand in hand. To date, more than 700 employers have hired graduates from our immersive programs. As we continue to work with these companies and develop relationships with their hiring managers, we’ve heard more and more about how difficult it is for them to train their current employees to keep up with changing business and tech needs.
We realized that our immersive model could help, so we’ve created specialized training programs to help companies remain competitive without having to spend tons of money, create an internal training department or hire multiple new employees. In short, by bringing us in as a training partner, employers can leverage our expertise as needed without soaking up a lot of internal resources. All training programs are custom-built and can include recruiting, onboarding, reskilling and upskilling.
Over the past year, we’ve worked with numerous organizations including Liberty Mutual, Capital One and Blackbaud to create training programs for the company’s current employees. Along the way, we’ve learned a lot about what employers are looking for in terms of tech training, and put together a list of the top four elements of an impactful corporate training program:
- Expert instructors: At The Iron Yard, we’ve hired an incredible team of instructors who are part mentor, part development expert and part passionate educator. So for our corporate training instructors, we’ve taken special care to hire a team that not only has those characteristics, but can understand the differing needs of student employees, managers, training departments and company executives, and make sure the needs of all of those groups are met. They are practitioner educators, meaning they are developers first, educators second and have the skills to prove it.
- Outcomes-based curriculum: To meet the specific needs of employers, we have to be up-to-date on the latest languages and frameworks, anticipate future trends, and incorporate that information into each individualized program curriculum. In the corporate world, it’s also crucial that we consider outcomes, so we operate with an outcomes-based curriculum and instructional design that encompasses three pillars: Bloom’s taxonomy (learning to analyze and evaluate concepts rather than just remembering facts), continuous assessment and backwards design. Students are engaged through-hands on learning, roundtable discussions, pair programming, group projects and shared research, and assessed regularly throughout the course. This process allows us to focus on outcomes and map the curriculum to meet these objectives.
- Customization to ensure ROI: Like we mentioned above, each of our corporate programs focuses on the needs of the employer and the learning outcomes of each employee. Program customization is the number one way we meet those objectives. We design projects and exercises that mirror the employee’s real world tasks and run through the actual production experience employees will have in their daily role. By incorporating company-specific projects, we can ensure that employees are trained with the specific knowledge they’ll need to be effective and efficient as soon as they complete the program.
- Measuring success: So how can we ensure these programs are working and providing employers and employees with the results they need? Continuous assessment. To start, we assess the employees the company would like to train to ensure we’re creating homogenous cohorts with similar starting skill sets. As the cohort progresses, informal assessments are conducted daily to track student progress, and formal assessments (e.g. weekly surveys or manager check-ins) are scheduled to evaluate specific requirements and measure each student’s progress toward cohort-wide goals. We create a continuous feedback loop so that we can quickly adjust and incorporate feedback on the program, ensuring that after they complete the program, each student can immediately put the skills they learned to use.
It has been an exciting year and we are proud of the programs we’ve designed and clients we’ve served. We’ve been fortunate that clients have invited us back to run additional programs for more employees, so we view each cohort as an opportunity to improve and tweak curriculum for the next wave of students. Continually refining our programs helps us train employees with the skills that will meet each company’s exact needs and ultimately, help them meet their business goals.