IT Workers Under Pressure to Pay for Own Training

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The UK is heading for a critical skills shortage as IT professionals resist corporate pressure to spend their own money on training, according to a new study.

In a survey of 100 IT professionals, Thomson NETg found that, while 36% expect to have to pay for their own education, 50% cite cost as the biggest obstacle in expanding their knowledge through training.

Ever conscious of the spiraling costs associated with keeping technology training fresh, 30% of respondents stated that price was the most important factor when choosing a training provider. Forty per cent of IT professionals said they would welcome e-learning and blended learning as alternatives to traditional classroom-based courses.

The results come as recent research from Forrester showed that 90% of European businesses fear an IT skills shortage in 2006.

The survey also revealed some interesting results surrounding the choices of courses by IT professionals. More than a third - 36% - plan to take the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) certification, making it the most popular course. This was followed by Cisco’s Certified Network Associate (CCNA), with 19%.

While the traditional ‘hard’ technology skills are still more popular, there is an increasing demand for project management courses such as PRINCE2 and the Project Management Institute’s certification. Ten per cent of IT professionals asked say they plan to study these softer courses in the next year.

"These results reflect much of what we have seen across our wide variety of clients over the past 12 months," said Mike Summers, director at Thomson NETg. "While training is still a concern for European businesses, there is still a lack of impetus for HR departments to invest company budgets in improving the skills of their workforce."

He added: "Until businesses bite the bullet and accept that training must become an integral part of an employee’s career development process, the threat of a skills shortage will continue to hang over our heads."

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