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

“Our biggest challenge is the pricing, and getting end-users to understand the difference between accredited and authorised training in comparison to the cheap, unauthorised grey market training out there,” says Fast Lane’s Miskulnig.

Omar too finds financial constraints to be a headache in the training arena. “The financial implications are very difficult to justify as a vendor. The cost is very expensive and the only way you can achieve the financial returns you need to is to average 12-15 students in these courses.”

“An even more pressing challenge to continuing to deliver quality training will emerge if more companies do not start to align their IT security training habits with what their needs are so that vendors can continue to provide innovative and interesting courses,” he continues.

Skills training means employees are trained and experienced to fully utilise the investment made in IT infrastructure. Cost savings are an added advantage, as down-time and overall total cost of ownership is reduced. In addition a trained workforce is more confident and motivated to do the job right.

Chauhan of Comguard and Spectrum says, “We face challenges in retaining high quality trainers and sustaining the standards that we have set for ourselves. We have to budget several factors like upgrading our infrastructure, like lab facilities, and ever increasing rents. Foremost our strategy is to find ways to remain competitive in the market place without losing out on quality.”

What’s in it for you?

Given all the obstacles that users might face when it comes to procuring quality skills training adoption rates are on the rise across the regions with the advantages out weighing the negatives.

“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 subsequantly operate more efficiently,” asserts Symantec’s Ogden.

“Skills training means employees are trained and experienced to fully utilise the investment made in IT infrastructure. Cost savings is an added advantage, as down-time and overall total cost of ownership is reduced. In addition you will find that a trained workforce is more confident and motivated to do the job right,” explains Miskulnig.

As skills have become more important and the advantages of having a well-educated and equipped workforce becomes more apparent the adoption of training as an imperative part of the organisation has seen a noticable increase in traction.

“I started in the region as a trainer 11 years ago and in this time I have seen adoption taking off in this period. Many organisations now set aside a mandatory amount of training days per employee over the course of a year which must be fulfilled,” says Baig.

Omar has seen a definite increase in the call for training in the region. “We have seen adoption of skills training on the increase across the region as IT professionals and enterprises both see the value it can add. There is a renewed level of interest on the part of the employees who want to enhance their careers and achieve job security while for the organisation there is a direct correlation between the skills and capabilities of information security training and the reduction of risk,” he says.

“It is definitely growing and we have seen five quarters of growth around our education services. We have even been in the position of having to take classrooms from other organisations to meet the demand,” Ogden says.

Allinson has also seen the progression in thinking. “I think it’s embraced. Often times in the early stages of any technology people will try and get by and push back on the vendor when they can’t do things but we are talking about a technology people are running their businesses on. What users have realised is that the consequences of not having trained staff to look after the applications is to much to contemplate,” says Allinson.

Training is simply a non-negotiable in an IT environment which is constantly evolving and posing fresh challenges for enterprises each day. Equipping staff with the right skills sets and tools is a critical issue for enterprises. They should commit to working in tandem with the regions top training providers to prepare for a future that promises to offer great rewards to those who are most skilled and best prepared.

What to look for when choosing

1. References: Speak to other users who have worked with the provider and make sure feedback is positive and genuine.

2. Relevance: Does the course offered meet the business needs or is it simply a certification that looks good hanging on a wall?

3. Trainers: It is critical to assess the background of the trainers and see if they have any experience in the field they are teaching.

4. Vendor relationship: Does the academy have accreditation from the vendor of the product that they are offering training in?

5. Assessment: The user needs to determine just what the business needs are before selecting the appropriate training programme.

6. Personal growth: The training should assist the employee in enhancing his business value as well as personal qualifications.

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