Head of the class

In the second part of a two-part series, NME talks to vendors about the skills training they offer in the Middle East, and the challenges they face when it comes to delivering quality training

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By  Sean Robson Published  March 15, 2009

“We try and provide multi-lingual trainers on our courses so that there are means to explain the literature. In terms of other changes we will tailor the training lengths to meet the business needs instead of keeping critical staff tied up for extended periods of time,” affirms Ahmed Baig, security consulting manager at eHosting DataFort.

Forthcoming attractions

Just as the regional IT markets and technology solutions evolve, so do the training needs change – so what new skills will be required to manage IT in the coming year, and how will the providers deliver them?

“We have a virtual training academy which we will be investing more time and effort into. The regional sprawl sometimes means that travelling can be difficult and prohibitive. The virtual academy allows us to put an online lecturer in place and then enable individuals to come in and take that course. We have seen that the idea has been growing in popularity recently,” enthuses Symantec’s Ogden.

Essentially you need to relate everything derived from education and training back to the business in terms of what the business is trying to achieve. Clearly if you a have a well trained operator in the IT department then you will drive better customer satisfaction from the users, drive higher availability and operate more efficiently.

The current economic situation has presented many IT professionals with a set of fresh obstacles which trainers are looking to assist with.

EHDF’s Baig says “We will be focusing more on the arena of IT services management because at this time of crisis everyone wants to do the best with the least. Improving efficiency and cost savings is something that is on everyone’s mind right now.”

“We will be training people cross functionally and in this way reduce the amount of staff required and save costs. In addition, by training staff cross-functionally you actually build improved business continuity,” he explains.

“Technology develops rapidly and so we will add a number of new courses as well as updating the new technology versions of existing courses. All modalities are included in this process,” notes Ghassan El Haj, business development manager for Learning Services at Sun MENA.

Making the right choice

With so many training academies and courses available to users it can prove puzzling to sort the also-rans from the real deal.

“I would advise anyone interested in selecting a training academy to look at a few key elements. Firstly see if the courses have a reputation for quality and relevance, then take a look at the curriculum to make sure its modular and aligned with industry needs and finally try and get an idea regarding the background of the trainers,” recommends Omar of I(TS)2.

EHDF’S Baig splits the selection process into two aspects. “As an end-user there are two reasons you are looking to be trained. One is because you have the need within the organisation and the other is for personal development. If it’s an organisational need then the user should look at what is required and then identify what the skills are that need to be developed and then look for training,” says Baig.

“I think the thing is, where does the training centre stand with the vendor? Does the vendor stand behind that training centre and then look at the vendors programme and how vigorously the program is policed? Maybe also look at the number of people that have been trained and what sort of references they can offer,” remarks Allison.

Horror stories abound regarding enterprises who have used a specific training academy or provider only to find expectations unmet. On the flip side however training vendors find that there are specific challenges when it comes to offering quality training in the Middle East.

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