The Hidden Costs of Not Upskilling: Why Developer Training Matters

Don’t overlook the importance of developer training. Learn why upskilling is crucial for success in tech and the hidden costs of neglecting it. By Mo.

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Is your company investing in keeping your developers up-to-date with the latest changes in the industry? If not, you’re making a big mistake.

Technology changes quickly, and the cost of not upskilling your developers worsens over time. By neglecting developer training, you might save a few dollars today… but the long-term impact on your engineering processes, attrition rates and productivity will be devastating.

Providing professional development, training programs, regular feedback and coaching helps employees become more skilled and confident in their roles, leading to higher productivity and profitability.

Using data, you’ll discover why that is and how to create a training plan that will pay off with big benefits for your company over time.

What You’ll Learn

Throughout this article, you’ll learn about:

  • The long-term costs of not upskilling your developers.
  • How investing in developer training and upskilling reduces costs.
  • How to implement a training program.

Let’s start by looking at the hidden costs your organization will face if it cuts corners with developer training.

Long-Term Costs of Neglecting Developer Training

Neglecting the training and development of your software engineers is tempting. After all, it cuts costs and offers short-term gains. However, it also leads to a range of long-term negative consequences for your business.

Next, you’ll see why prioritizing short-term gains in this way ultimately hurts your company’s bottom line and competitive advantage.

Some of the downfalls of not upskilling your dev team include:

  • Higher attrition rates — and higher costs to hire new talent.
  • Less innovation from your dev team.
  • Developers fall behind on essential skills.
  • A decrease in engineering productivity.
  • Your leadership pipeline suffers.
  • It’s harder to align your dev team with your business goals.
  • Your technical debt increases.
  • The morale of your team plummets.
  • Team diversity declines.

Next, you’ll examine each of these issues in depth.

Increases in Attrition Rates

It’s already incredibly hard to hire good developers. Per a Dice report, more than 375,000 tech jobs remain unfulfilled, even after the recent industry layoffs.

Tech job postings are up 25% YoY and demand is even stronger. However, fulfilling those roles is tough because managers want unicorns but aren’t willing to invest in training, according to candidates polled by LinkedIn.

Upskilling your current crew is significantly more cost-effective than hiring new talent, in terms of both time and money. Existing developers are familiar with processes and resources, while new hires require time to onboard and integrate into the team.

It’s much easier to train your dev team to have the skills your organization needs than to find someone with the perfect skillset.

By investing in your developer teams, you create more opportunities to promote from within, increase employee satisfaction and reduce the number of developers who leave your team for better positions elsewhere.

Skill Gaps Hinder Innovation

You might have ambitious plans for your organization, but executing these plans requires a skilled workforce. Skipping skill development is akin to planning a road trip with flat tires: You won’t progress as easily, and the risk of setbacks rises.

Training encourages innovation by giving dev teams fresh ideas and perspectives, as well as by encouraging collaboration and idea sharing. All of these benefits result in a stronger, more valuable product.

Developers Fall Behind on Required Skills

Software development moves quickly, and what a dev learned a few years ago quickly becomes obsolete. Stack Overflow reports that 75% of respondents say they learn a new technology either every few months or once a year.

Per research from corporate training firm Galvanize, 70% of employees report they lack the necessary skills to excel in their jobs, and 61% of employees say their companies don’t provide them with the training they need to grow.

If you’re not regularly assessing gaps in your team’s skills and plugging those gaps through training, your team may stagnate.

Engineering Productivity Decreases

If your fantastic dev team doesn’t seem as productive as it used to be, a lack of training could be the culprit.

Upskilling helps your team work more efficiently with the latest technology. When your developers are well-trained and equipped with up-to-date knowledge, projects move ahead more smoothly and skill level discrepancies disappear, meaning your team’s productivity stays high over time.

Your Leadership Pipeline Suffers

The future of your team’s leadership depends on your current developers’ abilities. Bringing someone in from outside the organization to lead a team is always tricky; a strong team might resent being told what to do by an outsider, or the leadership style might not be a good culture fit for your organization. Plus, it takes quite a while for a new hire to get to know the people and processes of your business.

Upskilling provides a pool of potential leaders who are able to move into leadership roles — and who know the business better than an external hire.

Business Alignment Falters

When your organization decides to adopt new frameworks, languages or tools, your developers need to adapt quickly. For example, switching from UIKit to SwiftUI requires devs to adopt a new mindset and practices.

When your devs are not trained in the lastest technologies, they aren’t prepared to implement new solutions or integrate them into your existing systems. This leads to delays in your timeline, cost overruns, and other roadblocks in your company’s ability to achieve your business goals.

Technical Debt Increases

Technical debt costs companies tens of billions of dollars per year. Analysts at McKinsey found that addressing tech debt takes 15% to 60% of a company’s entire IT budget.

This technical debt costs you time and money to pay off. When your dev team is well trained, your engineering processes stay up to date, causing technical debt to accrue more slowly and get paid off more quickly.

Team Morale Plummets

For many engineers, learning and solving challenging problems are the most exciting parts of their job. Developers who feel stagnant, unproductive or surrounded by poorly trained colleagues often experience low morale and detach from their work.

Providing your team with opportunities to sharpen their skills is an excellent way to boost morale and keep engineers excited and engaged in their work.