How to Improve Your Team's Retention of New Cloud Skills

Stack of books

With the right learning methods, employees can retain up to 90% of the new cloud skills and knowledge they receive through training. See how.

It’s no secret the IT industry is facing a skills shortage—especially cloud skills. As companies scrambled to move to the cloud in the pandemic, many realized they didn’t have enough employees with the right skills to make the transition.

As a result, some organizations have resorted to increasing their spending on training and development programs, especially self-paced out of the box training. However, as the statistics below show, this approach, while practical, is not the best way to acquire and retain new skills.

The Most Effective Methods to Build Employees' Cloud Skills

To ensure that employees can retain and apply new cloud knowledge, leaders and managers must prioritize training methods that support deep learning and retention.

Discussions and hands-on practice allow employees to explore new concepts in depth and apply them in a real-world context. This type of learning is more effective than traditional lectures or reading material, and it is more likely to lead to long-term retention of new information.

By investing in learning methods that prioritize deep understanding, IT leaders can give their employees the tools they need to be successful as cloud evolves.

In the hierarchy of learning skills, lecturing is the least effective, and teaching skills to others is the best way to learn and retain new skills.

Learning Retention Pyramid

Between those two extremes are various learning methods that can help your team learn and retain IT cloud skills. The key is to find the learning methods that work best for your team, given each individual’s learning styles.

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Lecturing is the least effective learning method, yet it's still used in many corporate IT training programs. The problem with lectures is that they're a one-size-fits-all approach to learning; not all employees learn best by listening to a class. In addition, lessons can be tedious, and it's easy for employees to tune out or zone out when they're being lectured to.

If you use lectures as part of your retention strategy, keep them short, exciting and interactive. Use multimedia presentations, including group activities, and allow time for questions and discussion.


Reading is a learning method good for employees who are visual learners or prefer to learn at their own pace. Assign relevant readings before or after training sessions, and provide employees with access to e-books, articles, and other digital resources.

To make reading more effective, pair it with another learning method, such as discussion groups or one-to-one coaching. And be sure to provide employees with opportunities to apply what they've read in the real world.

Audio and Visual Resources

Audio and visual aids, such as videos, slideshows, and infographics can be helpful retention tools for employees who are visual learners. Use multimedia presentations during training sessions, and provide employees with access to online resources they can review at their own pace.

Lecturing, reading and videos are the most common learning methods in corporate IT training—and they are the least ineffective when it comes to skills retention! Studies have proven that the learning retention from these methods is around 30% at most, which means a lot of money gets wasted on training that is never put to use on the job.

Skills Demonstration

Through the hands-on demonstration of skills, employees can learn a concept or how to perform a task by watching someone else do it. This learning method is helpful for employees who are visual or hands-on learners.

When demonstrating a task, break it down into small, manageable steps. And be sure to give employees plenty of opportunities to practice what they've just learned along the way.

Discussion Groups

Discussion groups encourage employees to share their knowledge and experience. They can be helpful for employees who learn best by talking things out, and are an excellent way to promote team building.

When setting up discussion groups, make sure to group employees who have similar learning styles and a diverse range of skill sets. Engaging a moderator or facilitator to keep the discussion on track can keep discussion moving toward the end goal.

Skills Practice

The best way for employees to learn and retain new skills is by performing skills themselves. Allow employees to practice their learning in a safe, controlled environment. And provide feedback and coaching so they can improve their performance.

Teaching Others

When someone has the opportunity to teach a skill to someone, then they can achieve mastery.

This works both ways: Employees can teach others a technical skill, or employers can engage qualified technology coaches to teach individuals and teams in a one-to-one setting. A coach can personalize training specific to the needs and concerns of those who are being coached.

IT Managers Agree Hands-On Training Is Best

Cloud Institute surveyed 200 IT managers and technical recruiters on the most effective cloud training techniques in June 2022, and the results are shown in the chart below.


Survey respondents agreed that the most effective training methods are those that are interactive and provide opportunities for IT professionals to practice new skills first hand.

Eighty-five percent of respondents say instructor-led training is very or somewhat effective. Instructor-led classes are taught live by instructors either virtually or in-person and often include demonstrations, discussions, labs and practice exams. Referring to the learning retention pyramid, this makes sense because a quality instructor-led class leverages the learning methods most conducive to skills retention.

Furthermore, 83% of respondents said practice labs and exercises are very or somewhat effective, 82% said providing dedicated time for employees to work on new skills was most effective, and 80% said offering employees a cloud or IT coach was most effective. Again, what these learning methods have in common is the learning activities encourage a learner to interact and practice skills first hand, which leads to greater knowledge retention and ultimately better application of skills on the job.

Support Better Cloud Learning with Personalized, Hands-On Training

Cloud Institute is dedicated to developing cloud training and products that lead to a high retention of skills and on-the-job application of knowledge. That’s why hands-on Challenge Labs and personalized coaching are available with most self-paced training and instructor-led cloud training products.

Challenge Labs are a way for learners to practice fundamental and advanced skills in risk-free environments by providing employers and IT pros feedback on what someone does or doesn’t know. This learning method serves the "Practice" level of the learning retention pyramid. Labs can also be customized to match an organization's specific technology stack, so if your team is transitioning to a new technology, a team can practice safely before fully switching to the new tech, thereby decreasing errors and downtime.

We also offer personalized coaching for individuals and teams. IT pros who are working to pass a cloud certification exam can get 1 hour of one-on-one time with an expert cloud coach in their area of study. Teams and their leadership can ramp up quickly on new technology, processes and skills by engaging a cloud technology coach who will advise and deliver just-in-time training based on an organization’s goals.

Photo by Kimberly Farmer on Unsplash

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