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Training is an Investment, Not an Expense

Aug. 30, 2019
Ryan Day

The Evolution of the IT Decision-Maker: How Training Views Have Changed Over the Last Decade

What does your boss think?

It’s a simple question that often doesn’t have a simple answer. Many of us, no matter the industry, spend part of our workday wondering or worrying about the opinions of a supervisor.

Do your opinions align? What about your goals?

If only there was a way to see their thoughts…

Well, now you can. The recent release of our 2019 IT Skills and Salary Report marks the 12th straight year we’ve surveyed all ranges of IT professionals, from managers to staff, on everything from IT certifications to job satisfaction.

Having analyzed more than a decade of data, we uncovered some noteworthy trends, especially when it comes to the opinions of IT decision-makers. Training is an area of particular passion, eliciting some of the most honest and reverberating opinions in the history of our report.

Viewpoints have shifted since our inaugural report in 2008. When we started our survey, many in the tech industry considered training was a luxury, not a necessity. Today, decision-makers better appreciate the need for training even as IT budgets have compressed.

So how do your training views compare to those of your boss? Let’s find out.


Budgets are bottlenecking success

Despite the budgetary challenges, the value of training and certification remain high according to this year’s IT Skills and Salary Report. Over 90% of global IT decision-makers say that certified employees provide added value above and beyond the cost of certification. In 2011, 21% of decision-makers reported “no change” in the effectiveness of staff after certification. Even hiring managers were de-emphasizing the importance of certifications in 2011 with less than 10% viewing them as “very important.”

This could be due to a number of reasons. Technology didn’t change as quickly as it does now, so employees could adapt more quickly to tech upgrades in the workplace.

Professional development options are also now more plentiful than ever. Classroom training used to be the only way to educate your staff and, thus, forced managers to adapt to employees constantly being out of the office. Today, classroom training is still valued, but on-demand and informal learning options are more readily available and help promote a culture of continual learning, helping to fill in the knowledge gaps between formal training.

To further illustrate how trained and certified professionals are viewed by managers, 63% of IT decision-makers say the economic benefit of a certified employees exceeds $10,000 a year. Twenty-two percent say it exceeds $30,000. This proves that certifications are an investment that will eventually pay off.

If that’s not enough to entice you or your staff to pursue a certification, check out our list of the 15 top-paying certifications for 2019, which breaks down the highest-paying credentials in the United States. Or stay ahead of the competition with our list of the New and Emerging IT Certifications for 2019.

In general, the number of IT professionals who train each year has slowly inched upward even as decision-makers have struggled to allocate funds for it. In 2010, 66% of survey respondents trained in the previous year. In 2019, that has risen to 85%.

While our reports have tracked 12 years of data, for more than 20 years we’ve seen firsthand how training needs have evolved and where they’ve evolved to. We now have training formats for all learning styles. These options have diminished the stress on decision-makers who can now spend less time worrying how to track their employees’ progress. When they’re ready for staff to train, it’s easier than ever to set plans in motion.


Managers are asked to do more with less, and it’s leading to skill gaps

Eighty-one percent of IT decision-makers in North America report a shortage of skills on their team. That number is up six percent from a year ago and 50% from 2016.

With skills gaps rising steeply over the last few years, the addition of newly-learned tools and techniques are vital to the efficiency of IT departments. Seventy-nine percent of survey respondents who trained last year did so to acquire new skills, and 45% trained to prepare for a certification or specialist exam.

Managers are being asked to do more with less, so training choices are as important as ever. Skills gaps are already causing major headaches for decision-makers who have to deal with the resulting consequences, such as missed objectives, delayed deployments and an increase in employee stress.

The best way to optimize team performance is to establish a culture of regular training.


Stop the problem from developing

Since we started our report in 2008, salaries and business conditions have improved significantly. Much of this can be attributed to increasing numbers of IT professionals having access to IT training.

But there are problems on the horizon. Skills gaps are rising sharply and have already become a training motivator. Even as budgets continue to shrink, professional development opportunities should continue to increase as managers seek to reduce skills shortages and alleviate worker stress.

According to IDC’s Training Impact on Projects Survey, a small increase in team skills can drastically improve the chance of project success. The survey finds that objectives are met less than half of the time when a team’s skill level is average (5 out of 10). When that skill level is increased slightly, from 5 to 7, project success soars past 70%.

Advocating for consistent training and certifications is the key. IT professionals must keep their skills fresh to better adapt to changing technologies and ensure project success. 

Managers are also reminded to take advantage of as many internal training resources as possible. Arranging informal learning sessions is a great way for employees to share knowledge. When an employee completes a formal training, make sure they pass along new information and techniques to co-workers.


Company training is out there—don’t miss it!

Managers must stay diligent and schedule formal training when they have critical skill needs. According to the 2019 report, 58% of decision-makers worldwide said their organizations offered training, but only 49% percent of that group authorized training for their team members. Skipping out on available IT training is a huge wasted opportunity.

The benefits of skilled and certified team members are too great to pass up. Certifications continue to pay off in terms of employee salary, job satisfaction and value to the organization. And decision-makers who authorized training in the prior year are significantly more likely to authorize training in the future. They witness the advantages first-hand and are hungry for more.

The value is evident—it’s now up to the decision-makers to stay resourceful in how they schedule trainings. Whether it’s formal or informal, internal or external, professional development is the key to eliminating workplace shortages, maximizing careers and driving business forward.

Visit our IT Skills and Salary Resource Hub to download our entire collection of reports from the past 12 years.


Related resources

Why Initial and Ongoing Training are Solutions for IT Skills Gaps

Mind the Gap: A Six Step Guide to Organizational Success