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Issue of September 2006 
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Training should not be done out of compulsion

Training for IT personnel tends to be focussed more on completing IT projects that have been bagged than helping individual team members enrich their respective domains. Prof Sunil Rai, Joint Director and Chairperson, Centre for IT at the S P Jain Institute of Management & Research, elaborates concerns and issues in IT training


Sunil Rai

Today all businesses, be they large or small, are IT-enabled. IT plays the role of an ideal business catalyst. The percentage of IT components has risen, and these are evolving across verticals. This is why IT training is essential for these businesses to derive the maximum benefit from their IT assets.

On the technology side, employees aspire to learn, a desire that goes beyond counting their pay packages. Mostly, constant updation on technologies motivates people to stay longer in an organisation. I feel that enterprises should give organised training with the focus being more on helping employees grow in their respective domains of expertise. This should also bring down the attrition rate.

IT Training Comes of Age

IT training has come a long way from monotonous classroom sessions to deploying hi-tech tools and simulators that facilitate repeated teaching and practising lessons. This can be done within the individual’s desired environment, time and comfort. These simulators create life-like scenarios which impart the criticality of various issues.

IT businesses have two sides, demand and supply. The demand side consists of IT-user companies and services, while the supply side would include infrastructure-solution developers, and product and network integrators.

Levels of Training

Training in different domains of information technology forms the bread and butter for almost all IT companies globally. Training can be further categorised as induction-level, incremental, and mid-career training for senior executives.

Induction-level training is for new recruits. It broadly covers organisational vision and structural hierarchy. Freshers are directly absorbed by companies and later trained in various technologies as per their pool of projects and infrastructure. Besides the organisational overview, freshly recruited engineers are trained on various development languages and technologies.

Incremental training is for employees with several years of experience and specific domain expertise. They are trained in various aspects of team and project management. Training helps individuals to take on new responsibilities and projects. It enables them to handle the entire management and software development lifecycle until the project is delivered to the clients.

Mid-career training is for senior executives who may hold senior positions within an organisation and look after key operations and business aspects. The training is to help them understand and offer them a preview of the global business scenario. This training has to help them understand the business’ challenges and needs.

Technology in Training

Companies have to train employees in various technologies more out of compulsion than to hone up individual knowledge and complement their career graph. This is more so on the demand side. I feel that this has to change since few companies genuinely train with the intention being to teach.

Training is nowadays done with the help of multiple tools that include the electronic catalog or the e-books, simulators, and learning management systems. All these systems facilitate ‘anytime, anywhere’ access to learning content and administration. They also help cut costs. e-learning can be achieved through PowerPoint presentations and video recorded lectures transmitted via the Internet.

The why of certification

Employees aspire to learn, a desire that goes beyond counting their pay packages. Constant updation on technologies motivates people to stay longer in an organisation. Enterprises should therefore give organised training with the focus being more on helping employees grow in their respective domains of expertise

IT certification adds dividends to both individuals and the organisations that employ them. This is, at times, mandatory in bagging prestigious offshore multi-dollar projects and contracts.

The certification itself may not prove that the individual is well-versed with the subject as compared to non-certified colleagues, but it certainly offers leverage and helps provide a systematic approach to trouble-shooting. Project management and tools are important, and this importance is growing. Professionals in IT should understand applications, processes and management. Certification also helps an individual earn a better pay package. Besides, it assists the HR fraternity in building a transparent evaluation system, and makes for a knowledge-oriented competitive workplace. The prestige and privileges associated with premier certifications also enhances the market value of professionals.

The change in IT training and management has evolved. Today, it is adding innovative new concepts to ease and automate various business processes across verticals. Strangely, there also seems to be a lack of co-ordination between the HR and development teams. HR assigns and issues training, but the project manager can dedicate members from his team based on the project’s delivery deadlines. Irrespective of various tools and automation in training, there still seems to be a wide gap when it comes to dedicated trainers and faculties.

It would be difficult to separate IT and management. Project management is the key to successful IT assignments. The challenge of project management is to optimise integration of various resources to meet the pre-defined objectives. I feel there has to be a more dedicated and quality-focussed approach to project management in IT training as well as in other aspects of IT management.

The outsourced training era

Most of the training nowadays is outsourced to institutes with core competencies in their respective areas. These institutes include IITs, NITs, BITS Pilani, and organisations like NIIT.

It is also observed that the competitive market is reflected in the increase in the number of enrolments for post-graduation programmes across various universities and institutes. This should help enterprises to contribute in saving time, energy and resources. The resources created should be seen more as a business investment rather than a liability.

As told to Dominic K

 
     
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