How many Information Technology certifications are the right amount for your associates to hold? This can be a slightly controversial topic in that some strongly agree they are needed for any technology platform, while others argue that many do not provide a substantial return on their investment. Associates often feel their employers should provide formal vendor training and certification testing, and if it is not offered it may push them out the door. Employers, however, do not always have the training budgets available to provide their entire Information Technology staff training in a formal vendor format.
Some level of formal vendor training and accredited certifications are important, especially for well-known and heavily utilized platforms in the industry. Before determining training is needed, the following questions should be asked:
- Does the training material apply to the associate’s core responsibilities?
- Do others in the company strongly possess the knowledge and have the ability to train others?
- Will the subject matter be one that will be needed in the company for an extended period of time?
Once it is determined that vendor training is required, employers should implement a formal plan including internal add on options, as vendor training alone may not provide the desired return. A common oversight many employers have is to send associates to training and never follow through with what they learned, how they will apply it to their jobs, and more importantly, how they will share the knowledge gained with coworkers. To achieve the best return on any form of training, employers should have a regulated program that holds associates accountable for applying the knowledge gained, sharing the knowledge with others via mentoring sessions or documentation, and maintaining certification levels for the subject trained on (as new versions are offered).
Before scheduling training Employers should ask:
- How will the associates apply their knowledge once they return from training?
- How will the associate capture what they learned and train others?
- Who will review the training taken, how it was utilized, and what return the company received?
Before attending training Associates should ask:
- Will the employer offer time to the associate to enhance their skills via additional hands on testing, online training and studying, and provide funding for certification testing?
- Does the employer offer lab environments for their associates to continue learning on key technologies?
- Does the employer have a formal program to mentor others?
- Will the employer recognize the associate’s certifications?
Gaining a certification is not always easy and the company should recognize the effort being made by the associate. Associates should realize the expense of training and certifications and offer to share the knowledge learned rather than individualizing it. If the above training programs are adopted, many benefits can be gained including:
- Promote associates to support their core job function in a more cost effective manner and consequently reduce labor budgets
- Reduce Information Technology training budgets by utilizing vendor and internal programs together
- Retain top Information Technology talent