Some employers aren’t as encouraging as they should be when it comes to providing their IT staff with training and professional development opportunities, says Steve McGowan, IT division director at recruitment firm Robert Half Technology.
“They want good people, but don’t want to give training allowances to staff.”
Many employers have good staff development programmes, particularly consulting firms like Fronde, Simpl Group and BearingPoint, he says. However, there are some, mainly in the small- to medium-sized business sector, that are reluctant to invest in their staff.
They’re behind the times, he says, because candidates are increasingly viewing training and development as key job attractions, something to be considered alongside pay rates.
“More and more candidates are asking: ‘What’s your training programme?”
Helping staff gain professional certification is important, he says.
“We’re losing good people overseas, and we need to keep them here.”
Better skills training would provide an incentive for NZ’s more skilled IT workers to stay, he says.
“For example, many New Zealanders are returning from the UK, where it’s compulsory to have certification such as PMP if you work in project management, for example.
“In New Zealand, there’s still a bit of that ‘I’ve got the experience, I know the methodology, I don’t need the certification’ attitude.
This can put limits on a candidate, especially if that person is looking at moving from an internal role to consulting, McGowan says.
“If you’re being billed out [to clients], you have to have to have certification.
“In-house, you can have someone doing things without certification, but a consultant has to have it.”
He says the benefits of certification can be seen in New Zealanders returning from the UK with certification gained there, who return home and are readily employable, thanks to their qualifications.
“There’s more competition there, more people — the need for certification is greater.”
Getting a training programme up and running at an organisation that doesn’t have one is a two-way process, he says. It requires input from both staff and employer.
For staffers at organisations where paying for employees to do training courses isn’t the norm, one option is for the staffer to offer to pay 50% of the cost of a training course, with the employer chipping in the other 50%, and, perhaps, striking a deal for the employer to re-imburse the staffer when they pass the course.
Employers need to view training as an investment, not a cost, he says.
If there’s a good training programme, staff will “stay with you and feel more valued”, says McGowan.