Main image of article GitHub, YouTube, Online Courses Top Developers' Learning Methods

How are developers learning new skills? It depends quite a bit on their age, according to new data from HackerRank’s latest Developer Skills Report. Younger technologists (i.e., Generation Z) tend to utilize YouTube, while older ones stick with books, on-the-job training, and other learning channels. 

For its report, HackerRank consulted some 116,648 developers from around the world. As you can see from the chart below, developers of all ages love learning via developer websites and repositories, and that makes total sense—whatever you’re building, you can find a code snippet and a bunch of good advice on a site like GitHub

In a similar vein, online courses are also extremely popular among developers of all ages. And why not? Courses offer a good deal of flexibility when it comes to learning schedules, whether you’re a student who’s managing a huge course-load or a working developer with a lot of projects to juggle. 

Other learning categories, however, offer quite a bit of deviation. Baby Boomers, for instance, greatly prefer books, while younger developers have an affinity for YouTube. Of all categories, coding bootcamps also seemed the weakest as a learning channel—perhaps because of the expense and time commitment associated with them. (In another part of the report, one in three hiring managers indicated that they’ve hired a bootcamp graduate at some point, although that might change if bootcamps truly become more popular.) Here’s HackerRank’s full breakdown; all numbers are percentages, and total over 100 percent because respondents could select more than one option:

According to the Dice 2020 Salary Report, technologists are increasingly interested in “emerging” benefits such as college tuition reimbursement. Many employers are also willing to pay for certifications, as well as courses that will boost your skills. The key is to show learning those certifications and skills will ultimately benefit the business, in addition to yourself.  (One recent study showed that 55 percent of companies are willing to pay for continuing education (including getting employees certified), a 22 percent increase since 2016.)

In a similar vein, you can also argue that “upskilling” will save your company money over hiring new employees. Late last year, in a report titled “The Upskilling Crisis,” West Monroe Partners cited The World Economic Forum’s finding that it costs roughly $4,425 to hire a new employee, as well as the Association for Talent Development’s discovery that upskilling an existing employee costs a company about $1,300. Given the low tech unemployment rate at the moment, certainly no company wants to burn substantial time and effort finding a new technologist with the right skills and experience. Use that to your advantage.