Feature: How to Choose an IT Training Provider

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Alex Keay, Group Manager for Training & Certification at Microsoft UK, offers his tips on finding the right IT training supplier for your organisation.

Recent research from analyst group Gartner revealed the importance of IT professionals to UK business: 1.5million of the nation’s workforce are employed in IT roles, and 34% of these in jobs that are Microsoft related. With success in most businesses relying heavily on effective IT networks and support, it’s vital that the staff providing these have the necessary skills to do the job properly. In choosing an IT training supplier that can help you with this there are a number of important considerations.

* Suppliers should be certified by the technology vendor
There is nothing to prevent any company from offering IT training courses but not all suppliers have the expertise or the resources to deliver effective IT training programmes. Training suppliers that have been certified by technology vendors to deliver training programmes have a number of advantages:

• The quality of their training programmes is monitored and audited by the technology vendors, which are vigilant about ensuring their high standards are maintained.
• The capability of the training personnel themselves is assessed and continually monitored. Trainers have to obtain a qualification to deliver the training programme.
• The technology vendor provides certified training providers with support, course materials and resources not available to alternative training suppliers.

* Suppliers should be able to help you identify IT training needs
Training needs may not always be obvious. For instance, if your company suffers from frequent system outages the fault could potentially lie with lack of staff expertise as much as with the technology infrastructure. Additionally, there are a host of IT training and certifications available and it may not be obvious which course would be of most benefit to your business and your IT staff. Vendor-certified training providers will have access to online tools that can align training requirements with the needs of the business.

* Suppliers should be flexible in delivery of training programmes
The days when IT staff spend a week out of the office on residential courses are long gone. Businesses are understandably reluctant to lose large numbers of staff from the office to training courses and are keen that training causes minimum disruption.

With these demands, what has emerged are blended learning packages that combine elements of instructor-led or class-based training with learning online and from course books. Combining these elements minimises the impact on the business and offers course participants the chance to study in the manner of their choosing.

* Suppliers should help demonstrate the return on training investment
Statistics abound to show the general worth of staff training to businesses, whether in delivering projects on time and in budget, or dealing more quickly and efficiently with problems. Assessing the exact impact of staff training on the individual business has been a more elusive goal.

Where IT training is concerned however, easy-to-use online tools are now available at vendor and partner websites to enable any company to weigh up the worth of such investment. Demand to see a return on your training investment and insist on training suppliers that will help you to measure this.

Choosing an IT training supplier to help you with this is a question of finding one that can assess the exact training requirements, provide a training programme geared to the needs of the business and staff, and help you evaluate its effectiveness once completed.

For more information on the training courses available, local approved suppliers, and the role they can play in developing the skills of IT professionals, visit www.microsoft.com/uk/learning

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