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March 2020
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TD Magazine

Use Development to Retain Your In-Demand Developers

Building learning-first work environments attracts and retains software development talent.

As emerging technology becomes the norm and software developers continue to be in high demand, talent development professionals are crucial to attracting and retaining talent in software development.

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According to results from DevelopIntelligence's 2020 Developer Survey, more than 54 percent of developers choose employers and jobs based on how much they expect to learn. They are looking for learning-first work environments, because software developers need to get—and stay—ahead of what's coming.

The study found that developers are constantly learning and self-teaching. Respondents said their top sources of motivation are satisfying curiosity or deepening their knowledge base (both 34 percent) and preparing themselves for a current or future need in learning how to use a new technology (24 percent).

Software developers see learning as a way to move forward in their careers. More than 70 percent of respondents hope to hold a more specialized role, establish their own company, or move into management in the next five years.

It's up to talent development professionals to offer a mix of solo and group learning, taking into account preferences based on seniority.

DevelopIntelligence found that more experienced developers, those with five or more years of experience, prefer instructor-led training and reading, while less experienced developers want videos or reading and prefer to learn from their peers.

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Talent development professionals should prioritize training technical talent with JavaScript, Python, Java, C, and C#, because those top five programming languages are unlikely to go anywhere any time soon. However, to attract and retain talent, talent development functions should include technical training on these new programs that are rising in popularity and application: Go, Kotlin, Rust, Scala, and Swift.

They should also consider expanding offerings on data science and machine learning, because 45 percent of developers are aware that these fields will continue to grow, and many want to get in on this wave. By extending training in these areas, along with emerging programming languages, companies can show that they are future-ready and offer more learning opportunities to employees. That's a big draw for attracting and retaining the top tech talent.

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About the Author

Avra Bossov is the senior specialist for social engagement for the Association for Talent Development (ATD). In her role she works to tell ATD's story on our digital platforms, curates and creates social media content, and is an overall team player in our marketing department. Avra earned her bachelor's and master's degree from the George Washington University, specializing in Media & Strategic Communication.

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