Survey respondents want to train but workload and budgets are obstructions
What is your honest opinion about your job? Your salary? Your boss?
Every fall for 12 years, Global Knowledge has surveyed thousands of IT professionals on key topics such as salary, skill development, certifications, job satisfaction and more. The resulting data makes up a majority of our annual IT Skills and Salary Report, which provides a wide-ranging and detailed snapshot of the industry.
And each year, we are struck by the honesty of our survey respondents in the open field sections. These comments don’t always make the final report, so we want to spotlight some of the more thoughtful and opinionated ones here. The strongest sentiments this year revolved around skills gaps, leadership, training inhibitors and certification value.
Top three training impediments: Workload, time and budget
It’s clear from the IT Skills and Salary Survey that a majority of IT professionals want to train. But there are several inhibitors preventing them from following through. Workload, time and budget are the most-mentioned obstacles.
“Work load does not allow much time for training.”
“Busy. Lack of prioritization.”
“I'm a single point of failure, so I can’t get away to do anything.”
“Leadership is slow to pull the trigger to pay for training when it comes.”
Several survey respondents mentioned that as workloads increase, training opportunities diminish. Understaffed teams feel the pressure to devote their entire workday to their job and as a result, skill-building is pushed to the back burner. This is an untenable philosophy, as those doing a bulk of the work will have outdated skills without continual access to training.
Other IT professionals are told they can attend training, but only outside of work hours.
“We must train on our own time out of the office.”
“My superior does not approve or grant me time-off to attend self-paid training.”
“Much of the training available does not fit my outside-of-work schedule.”
So these employees are overworked, feel underappreciated, and now are expected to train during personal time. It’s not the best message to send if you’re an IT decision-maker.
When professionals do train, the benefits are impossible to ignore
Even with a laundry list of inhibitors, IT professionals fight hard for training. The value-add is unmistakable.
Training and certifications enhance job role effectiveness in a multitude of ways.
“I have more confidence performing my job.”
“I'm listened to more, even when input not requested.”
“Make better decisions and speak more authoritatively.”
“Became a bit of the go-to person for network-related issues.”
“I am more effective at finding solutions.”
The benefits extend beyond job performance in a way that organizational management should take notice of if they already haven’t.
“Helps management understand that we are qualified to perform our jobs.”
“Within my peers my expertise is recognized, not with higher mgmt.”
If you’re constantly fighting an uphill battle to get training authorized, check out our article “How to Convince Your Manager of the Benefits of Training” for tips on how to build and state your case.
Technological and digital transformation exacerbate skills gaps
Even with initial and ongoing training, IT professionals often feel under water when it comes to keeping up with new technologies.
“Not just rate of change, but volume of change. We are expected to know more than you could possibly learn in the time we have to learn it all. This isn't the fault of the company but the pace of the industry as a whole.”
Skills become outdated quickly so it’s important that managers and training coordinators have a budget strategy. Training just to train isn’t good enough. Courses must be chosen purposefully with a future outcome in mind. And make sure the most critical skills—the ones that are high-priority for the organization—are addressed first. Unfortunately, this means that less critical skills may not receive formal training resources, especially if budgets are tight.
One survey respondent acknowledged their team’s plan is to “Google the stuff we need to” and take training for the necessary topics. Self-study serves a purpose, just make sure the skills required for high-priority, high-risk projects aren’t entirely dependent on online search.
Decision-makers should be cognizant of employee burnout
Constant change and understaffing lead to high anxiety levels among IT professionals. Several of our survey respondents mentioned the stress they experience on a daily basis and the lack of acknowledgement from managers regarding their hard work.
“Moving from one high-stress project to another repeatedly, employee burnout is high, regrettable turnover is at record levels, while performance expectations are increasing, and we are not getting qualified candidates for open positions.”
“…management doesn't care about my hundreds of personal hours re-skilling for cloud so I don't know if I'll get a good position after the transformation.”
If management is not mindful of these frustrations, staff turnover can spike. According to survey respondents, salary is rarely the top motivator to seek alternative employment. Here are some reasons given by IT professionals when asked why they changed employers in the past year:
“Company culture, a great gap of thought between staffs and management”
“Environment as a whole, not only money.”
“Not challenged enough, no appreciation of my effort”
“I took a pay cut to find a firm and position where I would be working at least a bit more and utilizing my skill set.”
Top challenges for IT leadership
IT decision-makers are also feeling the pressure. Many express a desire for strategic thinking, but several factors impede their approach. Here are some key challenges faced by IT leaders:
“Increasing the frequency of deployments.”
“Compliance and cyber threats.”
“Lack of knowledge of changing IT landscape.”
“Rapidly changing customer demands.”
“Our parent company is outsourcing much of the IT responsibilities to overseas companies and only hiring low-skilled US workers.”
“Technical coherence between initiatives.”
IT professionals seek training with or without manager consent
Increasing workloads are burdensome, but IT professionals refuse to be defeated. They prefer clear communication from leadership, but when management drags its feet, IT professionals do not hesitate to act.
“I'm not a lead or manager, however I will train myself.”
A lot of our survey respondents are in similar predicaments. Organizations can’t or won’t invest in technical training, so employees take it upon themselves to enhance their skills. In fact, 41% of IT decision-makers say they have no training budget. And of the 59% who do have a budget, 42% don’t approve training.
When there is no support, IT professions have to pursue training on their own time and with their own money. While we appreciate the self-motivation, organizations and managers should be involved with, or at least support the training process for employees. The consequences of an untrained workforce are too great.
And for those who have a small or non-existent budget, there are still training options available if you know where to look. Start by watching our webinar, How to Maximize Your Training Budget.
Next, make sure you’re acquainted with all purchasing options with our white paper, A Complete Guide for How Organizations Buy Training.
IT professionals are hungry for skill-building opportunities. They’re already taxed enough during the workday—expecting them to train after-hours isn’t practical or considerate. Find ways for employees to learn—even if it involves social-study tactics like lunch-and-learns or free webinars. Trust us, they will appreciate the investment.