Training/professional development: If you build it, IT will come

Companies that offer training and professional development are in a better position to recruit tech talent than those that don't, yet training resources remain scarce at many organisations.

IT pros need to keep their skills current, and companies that offer training and professional development programs are in a better position to recruit tech talent than those that don't, according to US-based Robert Half Technology (RHT). Yet, training resources remain scarce at many organizations, the staffing firm reports.

Sixty-eight percent of IT workers surveyed by RHT said the ability to acquire new skills is very important when evaluating a job opportunity. Another 30% said it's somewhat important, and just 2% said it's not important.

In addition, 64% of respondents said they're very concerned with keeping their skills current in the next three to five years (29% are somewhat concerned and 7% aren't concerned).

On the flip side, 44% of CIOs polled by RHT said their companies don't have training and development programs for IT professionals.

"IT workers know that the industry moves quickly and favors employers that will help them keep their technical skills relevant," said John Reed, senior executive director at Robert Half Technology. "Training and development programs are equally beneficial to businesses because they allow them to build internal teams with hard-to-find technical skills."

To help IT staff keep their skills sharp, RHT recommends that companies pay for relevant classes and educational conferences. "If employees seek (or already hold) industry certifications, consider reimbursing them for the costs to obtain and maintain them," RHT suggests.

Among the staffing firm's other tips: be willing to make scheduling accommodations or adjust workloads to allow staff to attend training; tap internal experts for brown-bag lunch sessions if you don't have the budget to pay for continuing education; and consider establishing a mentoring program as a way to share expertise and encourage professional development.

In the big picture, companies across all industries have been investing more in learning and development than in years past. Spending on training rose 12% on average in 2012, reports Bersin by Deloitte, a research organization focused on HR, talent and learning.

Ann Bednarz covers IT careers, outsourcing and Internet culture for Network World. Follow Ann on Twitter at@annbednarzand reach her via email

Read more about infrastructure management in Network World's Infrastructure Management section.

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