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.

Empty chairs symbolizing a lack of dev training
Not training your dev team has hidden costs. Image by Jonas Jacobsson on Unsplash.

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.
Diagram showing all the hidden costs listed in this section
Not upskilling has many hidden costs. Image (c) Sandra Grauschopf

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.

Diversity Declines

Despite attempts by many organizations to encourage diversity, a PwC report reveals that disparities in access to training remain. Those who most need digital skills are still the least likely to get them.

Consider the stats:

  • 50% of workers say they’ve faced discrimination at work, which led to them missing out on career advancement or training.
  • 22% were passed over because of their age — with younger workers just as likely as older people to be affected.
  • 14% of workers have experienced discrimination on the grounds of gender, with women twice as likely to report gender discrimination as men.
  • 13% report missing out on opportunities as a result of ethnicity.
  • 13% report discrimination on the basis of social class or background.

Part of addressing workplace inequality involves giving everyone access to the same opportunities. If you’re interested in tapping into talent — no matter where it comes from or what it looks like — training is the first step toward reaching that goal.

Now that you’ve taken a look at the hidden costs of not upskilling, its time to think about the benefits your organization will receive from investing in your dev teams.

How Upskilling Your Dev Team Pays Off Long-Term

Many companies today recognize that investing in upskilling benefits both the company and its developers. But is it really worth the money you have to pay for training?

Here are some ways that investing in developer training pays off financially, along with real-life examples of companies that prioritize training.

By upskilling your team, your company can:

  • Build better apps by attracting top talent.
  • Encourage productivity by building team relationships.
  • Increase profitability by staying on top of latest tech.
  • Reduce hiring costs by retaining and promoting developers.

Now, you’ll find out how.

Build Premiere Apps by Attracting Top Developers

Training opportunities play a significant role in how top developers respond to your job ads or recruitment outreach. Sure, your perks and benefits are great, but will they help the applicant become a better developer?

Google is a company that attracts great devs by offering training opportunities. During onboarding, Nooglers are equipped with online learning materials like checklists, codelabs and codewalks. Google then assigns new devs a two-week starter project. This gives new devs the training they need to dive into Google’s technologies and processes right off the bat.

When top developers flock to your company, you can offer better and more profitable products.

Teams With Stronger Relationships Are More Productive

Training can improve relationships and collaboration inside the team and between team members and managers. When developers have a shared understanding of best practices and techniques, they work together more effectively and produce scalable, higher-quality code.

This also results in more satisfaction at work. For example, a Training Industry report revealed that trainees from companies who provided effective team training were also more likely to rate their managers more positively.

The managers at Greenhouse, an HR tech firm, clearly understand the benefits of training.

Greenhouse fosters an engineering learning culture by encouraging continuous improvement. Team members contribute to each other’s growth through regular lunch-and-learns, grassroots learning initiatives and yearly individual learning budgets for resources such as books, workshops and conferences.

Dev teams who have strong relationships with team members and management are more likely to work well together to create top-notch code in less time.

Well-Trained Teams Are More Profitable

New tech forces dev teams to revisit their processes and procedures. For example, AI is currently disrupting how developers work (see CoPilot), and dev teams that fail to adapt will get left behind. Training developers on the latest tech keeps them at peak productivity.

There’s a direct line between productivity and profitability. Trained developers work faster, complete more projects and allow the business to take on more clients or offer more features.

Developer Training Saves Money on Hiring

Hiring new employees is grueling for everyone involved — and no matter how robust your hiring processes are, you can never be sure that a new employee will be the great fit you’re hoping for. Investing in training reduces hiring costs by promoting managers from within the company and by reducing the amount of turnover in your dev teams.

Want an easy and effective way to keep your dev team up-to-date with the latest skills? Check out Kodeco’s Enterprise subscription! It includes access to over 5,000+ videos, 50+ books, curated learning paths and much more. Plus, simplified billing, a dashboard to keep track of how much your devs are benefitting and more.

Upskill Your Team With Kodeco’s Enterprise Subscription

48% of employees feel they don’t have enough growth opportunities at work. When developers feel valued and supported, they are more likely to stay with the company long-term and to see a clear career path within the organization. This helps reduce turnover while increasing job satisfaction.

Shopify understands this and addresses it through its four-year DevDegree. Students can earn a computer science degree through Shopify’s work-integrated learning program, which offers hands-on experience, mentorship and support. Spotify covers the tuition and pays a salary while the developer learns valuable new skills.

Training has a direct impact on your hiring prospects. LinkedIn research reveals that people mostly hear about their next new job through referrals. An upskilled employee is more likely to mention your company to someone who’s looking to make a move.

PwC confirms this trend, with 45% of employees whose jobs require specialized training being more likely to recommend their company as a place to work. Put another way, top specialists usually tell other top specialists to come work for organizations that train them.

The result is a capable pipeline of future leaders trooping into your organization and improving their skill set continuously.

Investing in upskilling your development team provides numerous financial benefits to both the company and its employees. By attracting top developers, improving team relationships, increasing profitability and reducing hiring costs, companies gain a competitive edge in today’s fast-paced and ever-changing technological landscape.

How to Build a Developer Training Plan

As you now know, continuous learning and development are vital for your dev team. And to do it right, it’s crucial to have a well-defined training plan. To get started, you’ll need to:

  1. Assess your team’s skill gaps.
  2. Determine your training approach and budget.
  3. Administer the training and measure the results.

Computer showing code and surrounded by books.
There are many ways to upskill a dev team including books, computer courses and more. Image from Bing Image Creator

Assess Skill Gaps

Before you buy courses and hire trainers, you need to understand how your company’s goals impact the skills your team needs. Take heart in the fact that 77% of employees say they’re willing to upskill so they’re better equipped to meet and exceed goals.

Stakeholders like senior executives, project managers and team leads will provide valuable input and help you build a business case for training. More than half of decision makers report a gap in skill sets, so your stakeholders are likely to see the wisdom in training.

You can conduct skills assessments using quizzes, coding exercises or performance reviews. Analyze the results to identify gaps and tailor the training you offer accordingly.

Determine the Training Approach and Budget

There are different ways to train your dev team including in-person training, subscriptions to e-learning platforms, and conferences and workshops. Your choice will depend on the skills and knowledge gaps you identified earlier and the resources you have.

Consider what works best for your team members; some developers prefer hands-on training while others prefer self-paced online courses. As you determine the cost of training, factor in travel expenses, accommodation and equipment.

Measure the Effects of Your Training

Unless you measure the results, you can’t determine whether you’re providing the right training or whether it’s having the results you expect. Therefore, before the training even starts, determine how you’ll measure the results to determine its effectiveness.

When you’re choosing your KPIs for the effectiveness of the training, think about the downstream impact of developer training. Metrics to track might include code quality, lead time, deployment frequency, turnover rates and employee satisfaction.

Key Takeaways

The ever-evolving technological landscape makes continuous learning and upskilling a crucial part of any development team’s success. Neglecting developer training leads to hidden costs like delayed projects, low-quality output and decreased team morale.

Creating a well-rounded training plan and prioritizing ongoing education and development helps you boost your team’s skills, productivity and overall success.

Training is a business investment with a cost attached — but not training costs more. Here’s what to keep in mind as you create your upskilling budget:

  • Outdated skills and knowledge can lead to decreased productivity, output and revenue, all of which impact your company’s market share, ability to innovate and reputation.
  • Without upskilling opportunities, you might grapple with employee turnover as top talent leaves, new talent chooses other options and employee morale suffers.
  • Offering training and development is a competitive advantage in recruitment and retention. There’s a direct line between trained, productive employees and company profits.
  • The longer you delay upskilling your team, the more catch-up training they’ll need — which costs more time and money.

Looking to hear from a community of your peers? Join other engineering managers discussing developer upskilling and other topics in the Kodeco community forum.

About the Author

Mo Shehu writes for engineering and marketing teams building great products. He’s a computer science and informatics grad, has lived in six countries, and is big on remote work. Connect with him on LinkedIn.