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The IT Training Quandary

Level 13

What do you do when your employer says no more training? What do you do when you know that your organization should move to the cloud or at least some discrete components? How do you stay current and not stagnate? Can you do this within the organization, or must you go outside to gain the skills you seek?

This is a huge quandary…

Or is it?

Not too long ago, I wrote about becoming stale in your skill sets, and how that becomes a career-limiting scenario. The “gotcha” in this situation is that often your employer isn't as focused on training as you are. The employer may believe in getting you trained up, but you may feel as if that training is less than marketable or forward thinking. Or, worse, the employer doesn’t feel that training is necessary. They may view you as being capable of doing the job you’ve been asked to do, and that the movement toward future technology is not mission critical. Or, there just might not be budget allotted for training.

These scenarios are confusing and difficult. How is one to deal with the disparity between what you want and what your employer wants?


The need for strategy, in this case, is truly critical. I don’t advocate misleading your employer, of course, but we are all looking out for ourselves and what we can do to leverage our careers. Some people are satisfied with what they’re doing and don’t long to sharpen their skills, while others are like sharks, not living unless they’re moving forward. I consider myself to be among the latter.

Research free training options. I know, for example, that Microsoft has much of its Azure training available online for no cost. Again, I don’t recommend boiling the ocean, but you can choose what you want to select strategically. Of course, knowing the course you wish to take might force you to actually pay for the training you seek.

Certainly, a sandbox environment, or home lab environment, where you can build up and tear down test platforms would provide self-training. Of course, getting certifications in that mode are somewhat difficult, as well as gaining access to the right tools to accomplish your training in the ways the vendor recommends.

I advocate doing research on a product category that would benefit the company in today’s environment, but can act as a catalyst for the movement to the cloud. Should that be on the horizon, the most useful ramp in this case is likely Backup as a Service or DR as a service. So the research into new categories of backup, like Cohesity, Rubrik, or Actifio, where data management, location, and data awareness are critical, can assist the movement of the organization toward cloudy approaches. If you can effectively sell the benefits of your vision, then your star should rise in the eyes of management. Sometimes it may feel like you’re dragging the technology behind you, or that you’re pushing undesired tech toward your IT management, but fighting the good fight is well worth it. You can orchestrate a cost-free proof of concept on products like these to facilitate the research, and thus prove the benefit to the organization, without significant outlay.

In this way, you can guide your organization toward the technologies that are most beneficial to them by solving today’s issues while plotting forward-thinking strategies. Some organizations are simply not conducive to this approach, which leads me to my next point.

Sometimes, the only way to better your skills, or improve your salary/stature, is without the relationship in your current organization. This is a very dynamic field, and movement from vendor to end-user to channel partner has proven a fluid stream. If you find that you’re just not getting satisfaction within your IT org, you really should consider whether moving on is the right approach. This draconian approach is one that should be approached with caution, as the appearance of hopping from gig to gig can potentially be viewed by an employer as a negative. However, there are times when the only way to move upward is to move onward.

29 Comments
vinay.by
Level 16

Amazing write up

"However, there are times when the only way to move upward is to move onward"

mcam
Level 14

if your employer is not invested in you or your future then its time to move on to an organization that does invest in its people.

Its not draconian at all, employment is an exchange not a jail term

bobmarley
Level 15

If my employer doesn't provide it I will still take it on my own dime. Eventually it will lead to a better, higher paying position either within the same company or at a new one.

rschroeder
Level 21

Truly, either get what you want and need for training, or get out.  Life's too short.

If persuading your boss or director or CIO to spend money on training for your team is the challenge, review this article I submitted and use the ideas to persuade the powers-that-be to get you the training: 

A Stratagem For Obtaining Funding For Your Projects

Don't stagnate, don't be the nay-sayer because you don't know how to do a project.

And never whine.  Whining is complaining without offering a solution to the problem, expecting someone else to fix it for you.  Never whine.   Provide the answer to the problem.  It's not your fault if higher-ups don't follow good advice.

shuckyshark
Level 13

unless you don't want to go to the cloud because of security and access / up-time issues...

As a manager, I always have money in my budget for at least 1 course per individual, the challenge is when they have time to schedule the course. I'm usually the one hassling them to hurry up and book a session before the budget season ends.

ecklerwr1
Level 19

My latest venture is going to be getting the CEHv9 cert.  I got it approved to do through Stormwinds online training academy.  I'm usually not a fan of online live training but this place sounds pretty good and it's not like it's cheap or anything.  I think it's like $2500 give or take.  Also since I'm a CISSP I got the new Cloud Security IC2 book and am looking into this new additional CCSP cert.

mbleib
Level 13

Best of luck.

mtgilmore1
Level 13

Just like a dog chasing it tail

Image result for dog chasing tail gif

CEO:  What if we train them and they leave?

Manager: The scarier question is what if we don't train them and they stay?

tallyrich
Level 15

Most of my "training" has been on the job - effective, but not necessarily the best way. All of the companies that I have worked for the last 20 or so years have offered online training, but I learn much better with hands on and/or classroom. (probably an age thing) Living in Oklahoma City and Kansas City there were a lot of vendor sponsored seminars and such including training at local Cisco and Microsoft offices. If you live close to any big city there are alternatives to high priced classes, you just have to do some digging. And don't be afraid to get on mailing lists for vendors they will often offer up last minute seats or special classes to whet your appetite.

ecklerwr1
Level 19

Thanks and of all of these kinds of things I've done besides get my BS Science... the CISSP has carried the most weight.

ecklerwr1
Level 19

Yeah the training Cisco used to do back in the day for free was really amazing... in the past 10+ years or so they've really really cut back!  They used to feed us lunch and everything for free with the training... oh well it's a sign of the times I suppose?

rschroeder
Level 21

Pay employees a better / competitive wage so they have incentive to leave after they're trained.

Your business should be one which people are lining up to get into, not get out of.

rschroeder
Level 21

Whoops--I missed a "no" in the above comment, and I have no way to edit it to correct it.  It SHOULD have said:

Pay employees a better / competitive wage so they have ​NO incentive to leave after they're trained.

Your business should be one which people are lining up to get into, not get out of.

dasher
Level 11

Heard this over and over... So true.

dasher
Level 11

It is a tough go for Employer and Employee. Training is always needed and needs to happen if you want to keep a good skilled staff. The employee that studies after work is hard to find but they are the ones that you want to keep. Also they are the ones that will reach the point where they need to move on because they are not being challenged at work any more. A good manager will keep an eye on the employee and try to keep them motivated.

nnettrouer
Level 9

The company i am with, currently "strongly recommends" yearly training, and they give you a decent set amount allowed.  There is a great free place online i have heard several individuals praise is Cybrary  https://www.cybrary.it/

tinmann0715
Level 16

"What do you do when your employer says no more training?"

    Laugh at their short-sightedness and take the initiative. That's what you do!

Take Solarwinds for example. You could spend six months consuming all of their free training. And that is just the videos. You could spend a lifetime on Thwack!

Microsoft Premier Support has a Library of Congress amount of training that is available with their agreement. I BEG my staff to take as much as they can. Same with Cisco and Citrix, IBM, Sophos, Dell, SAP, Fortinet, Mitel, HP... and so on.

If you are waiting for your employer to give you $$$ to get trained then you are not taking charge of your career. Training opportunities are everywhere. Carpe Diem!

byrona
Level 21

Employees are both a companies most costly resource as well as it's most valuable resource.  If a company isn't willing to invest in you then you are probably wasting your time investing in them.

robertcbrowning
Level 14

I completely agree that a company should pay for training and that it should be imposed on an employee on a regular basis, BUT It's the employee's responsibility to improve. Out-of-hours & free & seminar training are some of the ways, but you have to take charge of your own destiny and move forward. In some industries you can do your learning & then work for years, but ours is too dynamic for that. If you try to stand still, you're actually going backwards. Sometimes you have to pay, but even if a company won't pay for the training, they might pay for the certification, or better still you might get a pay rise or a promotion, or even just keep your job while others are being let go. It's my life, my family, my responsibility. I just have to do it.

mprobus
Level 13

I'm a big fan of training / learning.  Three masters degrees, a doctorate, and multiple IT certifications.  I always find ways to keep myself busy and learn more.  Even if I don't get a certification out of it, then I still try to keep myself relevant and will learn whatever I can on my own.

For those that have organizations that reimburse for school, but won't pay for training, sometimes there are ways to get both.  Some online universities offer certification training, which allow you to submit a university reimbursement request.

sparda963
Level 12

I remember interviewing for a job several years ago, the interview almost ended with me being escorted out by security. I forget exactly what the job was, but it was an entry level networking position if I remember right. They had a list of education and certification requirements, including MCSA and CCNA. Anyone who has taken these or even researched taking them knows how much they cost in time money and resources. I do not have those certifications as I am unable to afford them on my own.

The interview went well, I was actually surprised they interviewed me because I did not have those certifications, but I had a good list of job and work related experience to fall back on. At the end of the interview the Q&A session started and I asked the interviewer that with the company requiring so much education and certification "do they offer education reimbursement or offer to pay their employees to get those certifications"? The person said no, they expect their employees to do all of that on their own and to come to them with the required certifications already acquired.

I came prepared and printed out a list of classes being offered in the area and the costs of the certification exams for both of those certifications. I showed this to the person and he didn't budge on his response at all. I started to question why a company would require someone to have such certifications for an entry level position but not offer to pay for them. The cost of a CCNA boot camp and exam in my area is 2 weeks of time, and about $6,000-$7,000 just for the camp and exams. That doesn't include travel expenses or anything else. Most people I know get this certification after getting an entry level position in networking and the company helps them out with it. I brought a couple of examples of some people I knew who were able to get it fully paid for by their employers. But this person still was not budging on it, and I could tell they were getting a little bit bothered by it.

At this point the gloves came off and I could tell this was a company I did not want to work for. They had no interest in investing in their employees at all. I basically ended the interview with the following statement. I have no interest in this position or your company anymore. And the reason is you do not invest in your employees at all. You expect other companies to pay to train your employees, and then you don't even offer a competitive wage to entice them to come to you or even stay after you got them. So why would I want to work here?

Yeah probably not very professional on my part, but I have seen this way to often over the years. Employers want the golden egg laying goose and the needle in the hay stack, but are not willing to actually train someone up to the position or pay properly for their expectations. Unfortunately with the .com bubble bust, and the economic crash in 2007, companies are able to get away with this because you had a huge pool of trained educated and certified IT people out there looking for work to pay the bills pretty much taking any job they could get just to survive. Now that things have finally stabilized a little bit, companies are having problems with this and it is getting harder and harder to find good talented trained educated and certified people they can pickup at a bargain price. Assuming the economy doesn't crash again any time soon, you may start seeing companies finally changing their tone when it comes to paying for education and certification. Then again this could all be wishful thinking on my part.

gfsutherland
Level 14

No doubt training and further education is needed. It is complicated when you are in a smaller shop because when people are out, others need to pick up the slack....

I try to use as many online resources and books as I can. I encourage my team to use online resources.... Further I make sure my team has one paid training each a year (6 people). It's not a lot but it is something.

Am always looking for inventive ways to get what my team needs.

network_defender
Level 14

Companies that invest in their people, tend to create loyalty with them.  It's easier to retain good, trained people than hire unknowns continuously.

Jfrazier
Level 18

That loyalty thing is big as it goes a long way to employee retention.

sonis718
Level 10

your loyalty should be to yourself and your family first, not to your employer.

unless you are a millionaire and working at a company because you enjoy the coworkers, you need to go elsewhere to seek more money.

you will find work friend and your next company. those "work friends" who were your real friend will keep in touch after you leave.

if going from employer to employer every 2-3 years gets you an extra 20-30k or more every time dont even blink an eye

dont let your boss feed you opportunities that may be opening up.

***********We are at full employment here in US... meaning its an employees/job seekers market**********

if you are any kind of professional you get to dictate your salary.

Image result for lolcat once

d09h
Level 16

Sometimes we get so busy thinking 'what can I do for the company' that we don't think enough about ourselves.  If you turn in notice and your current company is giving counter offers, perhaps it was unanimous.

michael.kent
Level 13

Take of advantage of all that is offered. Like has been said before you don't 'have to pay'

robertcbrowning
Level 14

Absolutely - and it doesn't even matter what the subject is. Learn all sorts of diverse things. It makes life more interesting.

About the Author
Hi, I'm Matt Leib. I'm an old dude, with years on the customer side, years on the vendor side, and now, years on the channel side. Exist as a Pre-Sales Solutions Architect in the channel space. I specialize in virtualization, orchestration, storage and cloud. On my personal blog, I talk about anything from baseball and music to most technical things I enjoy including personal and enterprise tech. For the last few years, I've been a Tech Field Day delegate, and a blogger on Thwack's Geek Speak as well as a personal blog site at http://Virtuallytiedtomydesktop.wordpress.com . Always learning, growing (though sometimes, that's the waistline) and striving to be as good as I can. I also like to sing, play guitar, and am a rabid Cubs and Blackhawks fan. I live in Evanston, IL, a suburb of Chicago, also grew up here. I work for Connection Enterprise Solutions, in a strategic solutions role, speaking to C Level on Corporate IT Initiatives