JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Planning IT training in 2012

Date

Sylvia Pennington

Some companies are spending less per employee than courses cost.

Duqu could be the next big computer virus.

Duqu could be the next big computer virus.

Encouraging  IT staff to keep their skills current is a win/win for companies and workers alike – but in lean economic times training and professional development can be easy targets for the red pen brigade.

Post GFC, cuts to training spend have been sharp. Most companies view training as a cost, rather than profit, centre and between 2009 and 2010 median IT training budgets dropped from around one per cent of total IT budget to 0.5 per cent, according to Gartner CIO analyst John Roberts.

Gartner estimates that companies are currently spending around $1100 on training per IT employee; less than the cost of many short courses and seminars.

On the flipside, many firms continue to experience difficulty finding and keeping workers with hot technical skills, such as Oracle, SAP, service-oriented architecture, virtualisation, Microsoft.NET and SharePoint.

Some organisations, particularly in the public sector, mandate the minimum number of training days employees are entitled to receive each year but in others it's ad hoc, with proactive staffers receiving the lion's share of the learning dollars.

More than a training ground

Companies that do invest in their workers need to ensure they get value for money and are not just skilling staff up and out into better paying jobs elsewhere, Intelligent Business Research Services analyst Alan Hansell said.

Microsoft certification, for example, can make an employee significantly more marketable.

"Management needs to tread a fine line – between keeping staff's skills current but also keeping them on the books," Hansell said.

Diversity of systems meant senior managers needed to develop a wide base of understanding, if they were to manage the training requirements of operational staff effectively, he added.

Flexible formats

Companies hard hit by the economic slowdown have typically tried to cut their discretionary training spend, with expensive off-site conferences and seminars the first thing to go. If not eliminated entirely, they are reserved for senior staff only.

Non-discretionary training – getting staff up to speed with new enterprise software or the latest mobile platform, for example – tends to be delivered regardless.

Online learning has proved a boon for businesses that want to ensure staff keep learning but don't care to wear the productivity loss that comes from them doing so during the working week.

"Self-paced training is making people squeeze the course work in, during their own time," Hansell said.

Some firms sweeten the deal by offering staff the incentive of a bonus upon completion.

For those in management, professional development is increasingly occurring externally out of hours, too, via university post-graduate courses; the fees for which may be reimbursed by employers as subjects are passed.

"As people rise up the ranks they become more autonomous about what training they do," Hansell said. "It becomes about promote-ability and keeping yourself current."

Soft training

Senior staffers typically favour 'soft training', in the form of a conference or seminar, rather than a course designed to teach a specific set of technical skills.

At pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline's Australian office, IT workers typically spend around a week a year doing out-of-office training, in addition to internal, HR-run courses and workshops.

Glaxo IT demand and shared services manager Robbie Attard said his team of 25 were expected to be proactive about finding courses and seminars which met their professional development needs.

"There's not a lot of discretionary spend on training," Attard said. "We have probably tightened up – but not squeezed – what we will pay for."

The company also expects staff to account for the time and money invested in them, by sharing their newly acquired knowledge with other team members.

In 2012, training will focus on optimising the benefits of mobile technology, across Glaxo's field sales force, and commercial and manufacturing divisions, Attard added.

5 comments so far

  • when I was a company IT trainer, I noticed the high frequency of bookings cancelled at the last minute because some urgent deadline requirements came up in their regular job.

    Training is typically seen as a cost rather than an investment in future productivity - and particularly small businesses tend to feel unable to afford paying to train staff - so they rely on the government to produce skilled workers, e.g. in TAFE.

    P.S. the same small businesses that don't like to pay tax because they think it's a waste of money - those shrinking tax dollars were being used to educate/skill up your future employees for you ...

    Commenter
    Frank
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    January 05, 2012, 1:37PM
    • IT training for staff has been crap for many years. We are always promised the moon, but get no time off and no budget.
      I have not heard of one major player in AUS that actually keep their promises.

      Commenter
      Infinite loop
      Date and time
      January 06, 2012, 10:08PM
      • Companies see false economies if outsourcing to India or employing cheap Indian employees. The downfall here is you get what you pay for, crap support and robot coders. The IT industry in Australia is suffering from intellectual flight, you only need to witness the errors corporate systems are making in finance and security

        Commenter
        Peter
        Location
        Brisbane
        Date and time
        January 07, 2012, 12:43PM
        • Training, what's that?
          Oh yeah, the thing that I do in my own time at my own cost, I remember now.

          Commenter
          Sam Tyler
          Location
          Here and Now
          Date and time
          January 07, 2012, 6:43PM
          • Another thing companies are doing is making employees sign forms saying that they will repay in full or part the cost of any training if the employee leaves within a certain time frame. Something I find cynical and counter productive. Especially when it comes to courses, e.g. ITIL Foundation, which might be "compulsory" so that said company is compliant to certain contractual obligations. i.e. having a specific percentage of ITIL certified technicians.

            Commenter
            meh
            Date and time
            January 07, 2012, 10:38PM

            Make a comment

            You are logged in as [Logout]

            All information entered below may be published.

            Error: Please enter your screen name.

            Error: Your Screen Name must be less than 255 characters.

            Error: Your Location must be less than 255 characters.

            Error: Please enter your comment.

            Error: Your Message must be less than 300 words.

            Post to

            You need to have read and accepted the Conditions of Use.

            Thank you

            Your comment has been submitted for approval.

            Comments are moderated and are generally published if they are on-topic and not abusive.

            Featured advertisers