I want to skill up – but what do I learn?

An illustration of a school, next to an illustration of Bit the Raccoon.

I’m sure you’ve seen many articles and videos lately on skilling up while stuck at home, but the topic of what you should learn is a broad and tricky subject. You could learn something completely new, find something that’s adjacent to your current skillset, or even jump into something completely unrelated to widen your skillset or prepare for a career change.

I asked some of the Microsoft MVPs for their thoughts on what topics you should consider and why. If you’re unsure about what you should focus on, why not give these a go?


DevOps is the union of people, process, and products to enable continuous delivery of value to our end users. The contraction of “Dev” and “Ops” refers to replacing siloed Development and Operations to create multidisciplinary teams that now work together with shared and efficient practices and tools. Essential DevOps practices include agile planning, continuous integration, continuous delivery, and monitoring of applications.

Mark Allan says:

“DevOps. Learn how to automate all your stuff so you can save your future self some time. Assuming you’re not busier then ever right now of course! GitHub Actions is the new DevOps hotness and everyone’s looking at it these days, Microsoft or not. There’s a great learning path for it on GitHub.”

Want to learn more? We have a selection of videos from our Azure Mythbusters series to get you started, as well as some Microsoft Learn courses if you’d like to get stuck in!


Windows Server

Windows Server is the platform for building an infrastructure of connected applications, networks, and web services, from the workgroup to the data centre.

Sarah Lean says:

“Windows Server coupled with Windows Admin Centre, Azure Update Management, Azure Arc. Lots of tools to help sys admins run their environments remotely and still be secure. Also worth looking at things like MS Intune, Conditional Access, for remote working devices.”

If you’ve not worked with Windows Server before, take a look at the first link for a series of different resources depending on your current skill level. Then, depending on your experience, check out the other links to learn how you can improve further.


Dynamics 365

Dynamics 365 applications work seamlessly together for a comprehensive solution that runs your entire business – including sales, marketing, service, operations, and commerce. You’ll get a complete view of your organisation to uncover real-time insights that bring better results.

Andrew Bibby says:

“People should be skilling up on Dynamics 365 products and Power Platform, naturally! There are some good courses on Microsoft Learn for this, as well as some opportunities for certification.

The base exam is MB-200 – Microsoft Power Platform + Dynamics 365 Core – the associated Learn materials are at the bottom of that link. In passing this exam the learner will get a firm understanding of what Dynamics 365 and Power Platform are, so it’s a good one to start with.
After that, they get more role-based, so you’d move on to say the Dynamics 365 Sales exam and associated Learn materials for the MB-210 exam.
Or you could go the developer route, which again has an exam that, by studying for it, you’d learn a lot about the developer options for Dynamics 365 and Power Platform. The exam is MB-400: Microsoft Power Apps + Dynamics 365 Developer.”

There are a lot of different areas you can focus on when it comes to learning Dynamics 365, but fortunately there are many different resources and modules on Microsoft Learn to give you a hand. Check them out below!


Power Platform

Learn how to analyse data for insights using Power BI, quickly and easily build custom apps using Power Apps, automate workflows to improve business productivity using Power Automate, and build intelligent bots with a no-code interface using Power Virtual Agents.

Sharon Sumner says:

“Power Platform is the ideal compliment to all other Microsoft 365 services. It leverages the investment made by empowering the business to self automate. For starters there is the PL900 exam which covers the fundamental level and value proposition to the tools in the power platform family. There are loads of “in a day” courses out there for power platform – take just one day off for you and learn something new!”

The Power Platform covers a variety of different tools, so checking out the Microsoft Learn overview is a good place to start so you can focus on areas you’re less familiar with. From there, you can take a look at potential Microsoft certification, or try your hand at using Power BI to analyse social media streams in our tutorial article.


And more!

Of course, there are many possible topics and ways to skill up and we can’t cover them all in detail here. With that in mind, here are some quickfire suggestions from more MVPs!

Richard Hooper: I would say Azure stuff lots on new exams coming out – we have the Azure admin and architecture exams entering or currently in beta. GitHub actions are hot right now too! A lot of people are starting to look at using them and making their own.

Mark Allan: More generally, you should learn PowerShell. You can use PowerShell to automate anything anywhere (including using it in GitHub Actions and Azure DevOps!) so it’ll make your life easier whatever your job is.

Wael Hamze: Definitely look at Power Platform and DevOps!

Joe Carlyle: For those who have strong experience in one area, such as Azure Ops, they should lean into the areas they are not comfortable with traditionally. Like AI, Dev or Data. Starting with a familiar base can really help the speed at which you can take in new skills, and if you’re quite advanced at your current role it is beneficial to able to know the tech that circles around your expertise.


So what do you think? If you’re a developer or an IT Pro, let us know in the comments your thoughts on what topics people should be learning while stuck at home.


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