Technology changes at the speed of light, making continued education a must-have for IT professionals. However, training IT staff is not only time-consuming, it also can be expensive. In today’s economy, everyone is tightening their belts, so chances are you’d rather not spend thousands of dollars for each course required to keep your IT pros up to speed.
Fortunately, there are cheaper ways to train these prized professionals, if you know what to look for. Here are four tips for keeping a lid on your IT training costs, while still ensuring your IT workers are always on the cutting edge.
Turn to the Web – A number of reputable institutions offer free computer technology courses online. They range from one day to 12 weeks in duration and often include lectures, notes, assignments, and labs. Check out the following sites:
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (www.mit.edu)
- University of California at Berkeley (www.berkeley.edu)
- About University (www.about.com)
- HP Learning Center (www.hp.com)
- Goodwill Community Foundation (www.gcflearnfree.org)
Convene at a Conference – IT conferences are a great place to take in a number of presentations on different topics in a relatively short period of time. Presenters are typically well-versed in the subject at hand and provide practical advice on how to apply what they are teaching in the real world. Unfortunately, conferences are expensive – typically well over $1,000 plus travel expenses. However, there are ways to reduce or eliminate those costs. If the employee you wish to send has expertise in a particular area, see if you can arrange for them to present one of the conference sessions. Doing so will get them into the conference for free and their travel expenses may even be covered. In many instances, they will be compensated for their time as well. Talk about a win-win!
Turn the Page on Training – In this era of the Kindle, books may seem like an antiquated way to train someone, particularly a technology professional. However, books provide a relatively inexpensive way for someone to prepare themselves for a certification exam. Obviously, not all books are created equal, however, so it’s best to take the time to read through other consumers’ reviews to see which ones they felt did the best job of preparing them. The only draw-back is that books don’t allow for the same kind of hands-on experience one would have in a class, unless the individual takes the time to work through the labs on their own computer(s).
Train the Trainer – Rather than send a group of employees for expensive tech training, select an individual who is good at showing others how to do something and send them. Upon their return, they can teach their colleagues what they’ve learned. Not only will this strategy save your company thousands of dollars, it will empower a potential future leader and serve as a powerful motivator.
IT professionals don’t come cheap, but you needn’t lose your corporate shirt training them. All it requires is a little creativity to find ways to provide critical continuing education at a price that won’t break the bank.