Training and development professionals are not taking enough interest in IT skills training, argues Jason Wilcox
Traditionally untouched by T&D teams, IT training is often seen as the poor relation to “proper” training. Instead, the task of training IT users is dumped on the IT department.
Asking a techie to train is not always a successful approach. As a task, it comes way down the list below areas such as system maintenance and support.
To overcome this problem we must break down the barriers between IT and T&D. Both have an extremely important role to play in the future development of an organisation - one provides access to the skills needed to move forward, the other the tools to carry out the job.
T&D and IT should not work autonomously. Aspects of IT such as migration to a new suite of applications will have a major impact. Equally, new working practices may dictate future software and hardware requirements.
The lack of interest shown by T&D professionals may explain why in many companies IT training is conducted less well than other forms of training. One of the preferred methods of IT training is the “blanket coverage” approach - sending users on full-day courses from which they will hopefully extract the bits they need. Although this makes the organisation of such events easier, is it really cost-effective and do people get what they want from it?
Another oversight is training needs analysis. T&D professionals spend many hours carrying out TNAs, but this is rarely employed in IT applications. More time needs to be spent finding out what staff need to do their jobs, and tailoring learning to suit.
One solution is modular training - breaking each application into bite-size chunks of no longer than two hours. Similarly, one-to-one interventions have a major part to play. These can be done at the user’s request and at their desk.
As training practitioners we take into account our delegates’ knowledge levels when constructing a session, but this can be very difficult with IT training, as there are many facets to each application. One person’s “intermediate” course can be another person’s “advanced”.
Another area where IT training is