How Deloitte is spending $2 billion to train 4,000 workers on the hottest tech jobs of 2020

There's a race underway across corporate America to upskill workers as fast as possible. 

With the swift rise of artificial intelligence, automation, and cloud computing, corporations are struggling to find the talent needed to support the adoption of advanced tech. Instead, companies are trying to retrain existing employees to be able to begin using the applications in their daily jobs.

Roughly 1,000 employees graduated in 2019 from the Deloitte Cloud Institute, the professional-services giant's formal training program. Now, the company is hoping to increase that number to 4,000 by the end of 2020.

"What we've done is built to scale," dean Myke Miller told Business Insider. "It's a very templative program and highly repeatable." 

One way the company ensures success is by pairing each of the five pathways — developer, strategist, software engineer, architect, and AI engineer — with a coach or sponsor to help enrollees build "connections with people who are going to help them in their career for the next four, five, [or] six years," said Miller. 

That has helped Deloitte bolster completion rates. Just roughly half of Deloitte employees that enrolled in ad hoc certification courses offered by the professional-services giant graduated on their first attempt. Once the company launched the Deloitte Cloud Institute, that number rose to 90%. Employees are hand-selected for the formal curriculum, though there are standalone courses that individuals can enroll in. 

"We had a number of organic initiatives, [but what] we wanted to do is have an umbrella organization where we brought all of our learning capabilities together," said Miller. "Our students are passing because they have people helping them along through the process." 

Graduates also are less likely to leave Deloitte for competitors, according to Miller, who acknowledged that there is only a year's worth of data to pull from. 

Building the tech chops 

Deloitte is not alone in the effort. Across corporate America, companies like Amazon and Microsoft — as well as competitors like KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers — are spending billions of dollars to upskill their own workforce amid a drought in tech talent. 

For professional-services firms like Deloitte, the education allows its accountants, consultants, auditors, and other employees to "have the technology chops to be able to have a strong discussions with the client on many different levels," Miller said.  

Graduates also receive a badge, so those managers looking to assign jobs can pick individuals that graduated from one of the five programs.

The company made "very large purchases of online training courses" from "a select group of preferred providers" according to Miller, And Deloitte is looking to expand its curriculum beyond the initial pathways, including data scientist. It's also considering courses on industry-specific skills, like software to manage medical records. 

Ultimately, Deloitte is hoping the Cloud Institute serves as a key differentiator from rivals. "The leadership gap between Deloitte and our competitors [will] continue to grow because people feel attached to the program, they feel attached to their peers," Miller said.