Got Training?

Posted December 15th, 2008 by

So rybolov asked for another guest blog and a hot topic on my mind recently is training. Training in the IT world is kind of like the chicken before the egg argument – every employer whats you to have the latest Security F00$ training but they never want to pay for it. What is an IT professional to do?

So why are the majority of employers hesitant to train their IT staff? Are they afraid they are going to bring new skills to your resume and then you will jump ship to the next “jump and bump opportunity”? Or do they really have funding shortfalls and budget cuts to to prevent you from taking that 7 day Bahamas IT training cruise you wanted wanted to take this winter? My take is that it is probably a little bit of both.

Let’s think about this for a minute. You are a cash-strapped IT Manager at $your_organization_name_here and have limited funding for a never-ending list of training requests. In your attempt to balance training with the rest of your budget, you eventually have to cut training to the bare minimum. If you do splurge and spend the money to send an employee to the latest security F00$ training, the next time he/she is unhappy they might leave. But chances are you have program requirements that dictate some level of yearly training that is required. This situation can also be double whammy if you are in a consulting or contracting role where opportunity costs also means you are not billable during your time in training.

My suggestion is to strike some kind of balance to make both the employee and IT management happy. If you are in the role of government management, consider the possibility of allowing your contracting/consulting staff to bill their training hours to the program instead of going on company overhead. Another possibility to consider is if you involved in IT management in the  consulting/private/commercial sector, consider offering a reasonable allowance each year towards training. It does not have to be huge amount of money to pay for an expensive 10 day conference out of town but enough to pay the tuition for a week long training class. This will show the employee that you are serious about keeping them current in their career field but at the same time put some effort on them to be reasonable with their training requests. Depending on your geographic location, you can usually find job related training locally, especially if you are located anywhere near the beltway.

I was recently faced with this dilemma in my current position. We were told training funding was not available this year and that we would have to wait until next year. After thinking about this for a while, I approached my manager with an idea they bought into. I identified an area within my field that I have really wanted to get into the last few years but the opportunity never presented itself. Since we have the need for this skill and the organization was planning on investing in this area in 2009, I offered to pay my own tuition to attend this training if they would allow me use PTO for the classes. They agreed and I purchased a one-year training package that will allow me to attend an unlimited number of classes from the vendor over the next year. When training funding becomes available again next year, we are planning on putting my training allowance towards travel costs.  In the end, I was able to turn the situation into a win-win for both my employer and my skills set. In a world of shrinking IT budgets, a little creativity can go a long way in meeting your training goals.

Football Training photo by melyviz

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Posted in Odds-n-Sods, What Works | 3 Comments »

3 Responses

  1.  CG Says:

    it wouldnt go so far to call it a win/win. you had to pay for training that your employer should have paid for and according to your post you had to take paid time off to do the training.

    i personally dont think its too much to ask for a week of paid training per year if you are in IT or IT/security. To me a company that will invest in me is one worth being loyal to.

  2.  Vlad the Impaler Says:

    So you doing HTCA or something else kewl?

  3.  DanPhilpott Says:

    You are on the money when you point toward needing to find creative ways to get permission for training. It’s an unfortunate reality that organizations have an ambivalent relationship with training: they know they benefit from training staff but think of training as both an expense and a way of increasing employee flight risk. Sadly this lack of emphasis on training is organizational suicidal when it comes to matters of security.

    As for the issue of increasing the chances a person will leave because of training take this into consideration, what happens then? The best staff will seek out their own training opportunities. They will learn on their own time and on their own dime, meaning they have two choices to recoup their self investment.

    1. They get a pay raise from you (increased pay is a recurring cost); or
    2. They leave for a higher paying job elsewhere.

    Consider who spends the time and effort to improve themselves? Your best and brightest staff, the self-motivated and most valuable folks. The people who will have realized exactly how much loyalty the company has in them through the choices it made. And these are the people who are best aware that taking a new job is almost certainly the more lucrative option.

    So not paying for training may not result in a big change of head count, but it may change the heads that count.

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