Education

Do employers offer professional development for techs? Take the poll

Support techs and all other IT pros remain relevant by acquiring new skills. Can employers be counted on to help their people grow?

Support techs and all other IT pros remain relevant by acquiring new skills. Can employers be counted on to help their people grow?

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The management team at my last job cared a lot about keeping positive morale in the workplace. Our managers’ attention to the health and happiness of the staff made that office a very nice place to work.

Periodically the staff was asked to chime in with ideas for making the workplace better. Once we’d gotten responses like free pizza lunches, daily naps, and four-day work week out of the way, the thing all employees could agree on was usually “more professional development.” Professional development was a term that got bandied about the office a lot, because it’s often used in conjunction with the training teachers receive, and we did research on public education. Some other accurate synonyms might be “career development” or “job training.” You get the idea.

Professional development was something everybody wanted because—let’s be honest—we all assumed that it would lead to more earning power down the road. My thinking about professional development goes like this: If an employee becomes more skilled, she is more valuable to her employer. This benefits both the employer and the employee. Employer gets productivity, employee gets career advancement. Yay, everybody wins! I don’t think I’m unique in thinking this is how things should work.

When our department began discussing our policy on professional development, there was not much argument over the opportunities that our academic researchers should have. A consensus was also quickly reached on the options for training available to the administrative support staff. As an IT department and voting block of one, however, any options for professional development I might have were less forthcoming. There was no context for what type of opportunities should be available for an IT person.

I offered some suggestions of things that appealed to me (you can see some of these in the poll below). I ran into a road block when I tried to get funding or support for my some of my ideas, though. My supervisor did not believe that any new technical skills I might develop would be an asset to the organization. From his perspective, as long as I could do what my job required, any further skills I might gain would only make me more expensive or more likely to look for work elsewhere. Any chance that he would subsidize gold-plated items like conference fees, travel expenses, or certification vouchers was off of the table.

It didn’t take many rejected career development proposals for me to see the writing on the wall. I was disappointed at the time, but I can understand why things happened that way. My workplace, as nice as it was, didn’t see the new IT skills I wanted as worthy of an investment. I was filling my role well enough, so the professional development didn’t have a value proposition. Career growth will always appeal to the employee, that’s how one advances. The trick to getting an employer to support your development is by aligning his needs with your desired training. Otherwise, you might be on your own.

16 comments
contact
contact

They did in the Company that I last worked in. I believe it depends on how progressive the company is.

Kam Guerra
Kam Guerra

If I pay for it and it's on my own time.

Cerebral*Origami
Cerebral*Origami

I just saw a piece where they were saying how it wasn't right to require companies receiving government aid to let foreign workers go first. That the only reason these foreign workers were here was that there were no Americans who could do the job. Whatever happened to training on of your own employees? No. It's easier and cheaper to discard them and hire foreign workers whose salaries are often partially subsidized by the federal government. I was unable to take a class because it was filled with foreign students who were receiving aid from their government AND our government. When I asked how they could refuse a tax paying citizen a seat they told me "We're only required to reserve a small number of seats for residents." So they take my job, they get paid with tax money government took from me and then fill up the classes that would train me for the career I want. I have never been against immigration but I am sick and tired of hearing how American workers are lazy, stupid and no good.

jmbrasfield
jmbrasfield

The idea of professional development was tossed about in companies in the early 90's when "all this tech stuff" was starting to really make itself felt in the workplace. Management at that time, being the non-tech people they were, saw it as an advantage in keeping the few true techie types that were on the market. As more and more of the technically oriented came into the workforce, the idea of in-house support of further education began to wane. It came to be seen by the employee as a bargaining tool AGAINST the employer for more money or longer vacations. After all if you didn't appreciate my new skills, someone else would and for more money. Professional Development became its own worst enemy. The companies began to tell us that we could pay for it ourselves, do it own our own time, and if we proved to them that the new skills we had acquired were an advantage to the company, they might reimburse us for part of the out of pocket costs. That was the death of professional development in the technology field in my local area at that time and it remains a dead point to this day.

Wcoyote1
Wcoyote1

People don't quit the workplace or the job. They quit people. If you can't get any kind of help with keeping your skills up to par or bettering your skill set because you're boss keeps telling you "No" for one reason or another. When you hand in your pink slip, you're not quitting the company really, you're quitting the person who wasn't willing to help you stay. Nobody stays on at a school district to get rich (trust me on this one), they stay on because they have a passion for what they do. It's that passion that employers, no matter the job, need to enrich and allow to grow. If an employer doesn't realize this, then even the best and brightest he can get will leave after a while because they're not being allowed to grow.

SKDTech
SKDTech

It is my understanding that many employers and /or managers share the fear of providing training which will make an employee more likely to leave for some other better paying job. However, in the current economic climate it may be easier to convince employers to subsidize "Professional Development" to a degree by showing them that it can be cheaper to them to help you learn the skills they will need in the future than to have to hire new talent or consultants.

santeewelding
santeewelding

I pay what I needs and sends me to whatever has anything to do with edge.

williamjones
williamjones

In this week's blog, I recount the results of my efforts to obtain some professional development support from one of my employers. One could make the argument that it's a tech's responsibility to grow--and his alone. Otherwise, he'll quickly find himself unmarketable. Have you found yourself on your own as you've tried to learn new skills? Is it unreasonable for me to expect an employer to help me grow?

remote
remote

This, to me is nothing but a total outrage. you, in your own home town,a tax payer, was refused because a bunch of wetbacks have first preference? It is wrong to let them go first form a job? What is this? The last time I looked this was still America and I was under the impression American's came first. Where did that theory go ? Was it also OUTSOURCED?

santeewelding
santeewelding

Up to the point where you apportion authority and responsibility for growth.

remote
remote

SKDTech, I agree with ypu 100%.You are correct in stating in the future need's of their development,and yours also.Plus this gives you the edge against a new hire for you will already have the knowledge and experience of their system to enhance.

Cerebral*Origami
Cerebral*Origami

My boss has told me that if I want training I have to take night classes and pay for them myself. Or use my vacation time and pay for them myself. (I'm not supposed to take vacations longer than 1 week). On the plus side I DO enjoy my job and the atmosphere is really laid back. It's just frustrating to know I am falling further and further behind. I'm stuck here because my certs are obsolete (MSCE 4.0) and the job market sucks. Also since I am the only draftsman (Until 2 mo.s ago) I actually spen 99% of my time drafting and my IT skills are atrophying. I try to read and keep up but by the time I get out of work I don't even want to LOOK at a computer! Just recently I have started taking a night course here and there but there are no certification courses offered locally. (I tried a correspondance course once but just couldn't keep up with it.)

melissab
melissab

Yup. That pretty much sizes it up. Certs? I buy I study and I pay for exams. Any other continuing education is up to me as well. With the fiscal crunch the way it is, and with my area practically devoid of IT opportunities, that's just the best I can do.

steve-f
steve-f

Most jobs I have had talked up profession development (mostly certifications) in the interview, but never followed up, despite repeated nagging by me. The credit crunch has become the de facto excuse now. I took it into my own hands, and spend my downtime in work studying, setting up Virtual machines on my test PC, etc etc. Have got my MCSA so far, on to MCSE then CCNA.