Lately I have been discussing with other people (IT and non-IT) how important training is in the IT business. We also talked about the importance of self-study and about the new kid on the block: on-line training. There are just no excuses anymore to miss the boat.
Anyway, it should be obvious for all people working in the IT business: if you don’t catch up from time to time on the new technology evolutions => soon or later it’s game over because your market value will decrease exponentially! And this doesn’t necessarily mean you are obliged to look for external (classroom) training or you need to attend specific software conferences. It only means you need to find the best way to update/upgrade/improve/broaden your skills. Some people are perfectly self-managing: they read books, articles, blogs, forums … and/or they simply experiment (hands-on) with new stuff in their spare time. But for the majority of people this isn’t a valid approach and learning everything by yourself may give you a very biased opinion.
Attending software conferences give you the advantage to easily grasp the bigger perspective of what’s going on in our industry and offer you the possibility to follow some side-tracks (consider it as off-road) which might be very interesting as well. And don’t forget the different networking opportunities which may lead to the best geek talk you ever experienced. Still, IMHO dedicated classroom training is the best choice to improve specific skills in a short period of time. This is only true if the (interactive) classroom training is led by an absolute expert in the field who has dealt with many different challenges in real-life projects. To learn something brand new or to switch to another (similar) technology, there are many courses/classes which might do initially, but to get you to the expert level of a specific topic, there are not that many options. Once you get past the junior/medior level, it’s a different game and you won’t benefit anymore from the default training classes!
It’s exactly that gap that I want to tackle in Belgium with the training offer (Master Classes) at Sparkles. In the past I partnered already with IDesign which has a unique position of software industry leadership and reputation. The team of Juval Löwy will continue in 2013 to deliver their famous and intensive Master Classes in Belgium. Next to that, I’m also looking to setup other training classes on various topics (dev & IT Pro) with local and international experts. The purpose is absolutely not to offer a typical 9-to-5 basic classroom training (which might be good for some people), but the goal is to create a unique intensive learning experience by selecting the best people – who are working in the trenches – to get you to that precious next level! Learn IT by the experts! Keep an eye on the upcoming training offering and I hope to add some extra confirmed classes before TechDays where Sparkles will be present with a partner booth.
A last note for companies freezing the training budget for their employees. I’m aware of the trade-offs which must be made, but in the end: not investing in the most appropriate training for your people is a double risk. One, you might lose your best talent who will take a job at the competition and your global knowledge level will stall which will lead to less attraction on the market to engage new talent. Mostly, the more well-spoken and brave employees are able to put some extra pressure on management to finally get registered for a software conference or a particular training class … but I do catalogue this outcome as a quick win and it will backfire soon or later. Treating your people as a cost will completely demoralize and demotivate your staff. I can already imagine some reactions: “but what if we train them and they leave the company”? OK, be sure to read this and let it sink. It depends of course greatly on the personal attitude of all individuals: basically they are in control of their continuous learning & career path. So, it’s your call to invest in training or not!