As IT managers struggle to make sure their employees are on top of the latest technology and happy with their jobs, IT training is coming under increased scrutiny.
''In the past, funds for IT were not as closely scrutinised as they are today,'' says Tom Legate, director of technical operations for Lockheed Martin's Integrated Business Solutions. ''Now you have to make the right decisions and train at the right time.''The rate of change in technology, which has never been faster, makes it even more difficult for IT managers to make the right training choices.
''There is no longer a long lead time,'' said Elliott Masie, president of the Masie Centre, an international think tank focused on technology and training. ''When products shift, they do so explosively.''Although there is no silver bullet, there are some ways to make sure your training dollars are well spent.
First, figure out what kind of training would benefit your employees. Knowing what technologies will be important in the future is part of this puzzle. For example, Jack McCart, IS director at Adams Business Forms, considers whether today's hot technologies, including the Internet, will ultimately help his business when he decides where to focus his employees' training.
''The Internet has lots of business uses after you get beyond the hype and the catalogue sites,'' McCart said.
Make sure the training will be useful to the employees in their current jobs, as well.
''We have three levels of employees,'' said Ron Callan, corporate-user support manager at Morrison Knudsen, an engineering and construction company. ''Each requires technical experience and interpersonal skills, but interpersonal skills drop off as technical skills advance. Third-level employees are the most technically advanced, and we send those to the most technically advanced courses.''And what about the common fear that training employees will only make them more likely to leave?
McCart requires employees upgrading their skills to sign an agreement to stay with the company after receiving training. But he adds that rewarding employees for improving their skills is important as well.
''Training prepares you for increased responsibility, so increased salary is a natural follow-on,'' McCart says.