Back to school

Many enterprises and IT managers in the region remain obscure to the multiple benefits of sending their technology personnel to training programmes - a situation that needs to change.

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By  Sathya Ashok Published  January 13, 2008

Does it really pay off to keep your IT staff trained and up to the mark in their networking skills?

Every IT manager is acutely aware of the shortage of technology and networking skills in the region. Often, they are also aware that one of the most effective ways of countering this trend and ensuring that the enterprise always has reliable hands to call upon within the IT team is to school existing staff on changing technologies constantly.

Investing in training programmes for IT personnel has multiple benefits for any firm. For one, the enterprise reduces its chances of being victimised by the skills gap which plagues the rest of the region.

For another, research shows that firms that send their employees to learn new skills regularly reduce turnover by a huge percentage. In other words, employees who have been sent to external programmes sponsored by the company and know this to be a continuous process, develop a higher level of loyalty to the firm and tend to stick for longer periods of time.

This in turn means that the enterprise can count on a steady workforce which has become specialised with the operations of the firm as well as technical functions, thus helping the firm at every turn to add efficiency and profitability.

However, regional enterprises and IT managers as a whole are yet to push the training agenda to the extent it should be. Sending IT personnel back to school, as a measure of expanding their skill sets, is low on the priority list for most managers.

True - many really large enterprises in the region, especially those with multinational ventures, do tend to pay attention to schooling their IT teams constantly. These firms have often developed highly accurate and effective ways of reviewing the exact range of skill sets needed for their staff - keeping in mind organisational requirement and individual desires and talent - such that the right person is educated in the right programme. This is essential for the individual's long term loyalty to the firm. (Read all about Middle East training programmes and what they bring to enterprises in the February issue of NME).

But these exercises remain strictly in the realm of really huge firms and most large to mid-size firms are inactive on the training front. While this is understandable in the light of the sheer volume and size of the average IT projects that are being worked on by most technology teams, it is by no means an excuse and it is time that more enterprises put in effort to keep teaching their IT teams.

Trends flow in a top-down model from large firms to smaller ones. This is especially true for IT initiatives and technologies. Sensing the turn of sizeable enterprises to training their staff and expecting a growth in demand, the Middle East has recently seen a spurt of academies that offer everything under the sun for enterprise technology training.

Firms in the region are certainly spoiled for choice in academies. However, taking real advantage of programmes depends on the efficacy of the firm's internal practice to pick the best candidate for the right training programme.

Coming back to the initial question, does it really pay off to keep your IT staff trained and up to the mark in their networking skills? The right answer will be a resounding yes, in multiple benefits that can potentially last an enterprise for years.

The real question is, are IT managers and higher management of regional firms willing to put in the effort and the money required to train their IT staff?

Write to me at sathya.ashok@itp.com, with your thoughts on the scenario of IT training among enterprises and what companies should be doing to take advantage of the training programmes available in the market.

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