Original, perceptive, on-the-money cogitation from the professionals at HOTT.
There is a growing gap between the skills that employers need and the skills that job candidates offer, especially in IT. This gap is the result not only of rapidly changing technologies but also of the way we train technology professionals, and who trains them. Techies prefer instructor-led training, and all the evidence says it is more effective than other training modalities. It's time to get back to the most effective and cost-effective training options for technical professionals: instructor-led training and professionally facilitated self-paced training.
There is much talk that learners, their needs, and their approaches to learning have changed in the new century, but much of this discussion both rests on weak foundations and confuses training with reference. Assumptions about changing learning styles are largely without any factual basis. And training and reference are both valuable, but are different things that serve different purposes.
Today there is a greater understanding of the process of learning than ever before. We know what works, but in far too many cases, we fail to do what is necessary to provide effective training to technology professionals. Why is that?
Many computer programmers and IT professionals are largely self-taught, but the sort of knowledge that one can get from Q&A on the WWW is no substitute for formal, comprehensive, in-depth training. But don't believe us. Look at history.
In the 21st century, no trend in corporate training has had more effect on the marketplace than the move to the contributor model, in which corporations pay little or nothing for content, charge consumers next to nothing, and distribute mostly minuscule royalties to developers. While the idea of cheap or free training is attractive, the costs are high both to society and to enterprises. After you do the math, free training is no bargain.
Individuals and enterprises spend literally billions of dollars each year on training and testing that is primarily for the purpose of acquiring professional certifications. We ask, what's actually in it for the individuals and the enterprises?
For all its imperfections, instructor-led training is effective for the teaching of complex technical topics. Given the state of technologies for building and presenting self-paced training, and given evidence of its efficacy, it is appropriate to address the question of whether we still need instructors to teach such topics. While there are no high quality studies to prove the case one way or the other, the vast predominance of evidence suggests that those who need training in complex technical topics are far better served by instruction that involves instructors.
For senior enterprise training executives, is it sometimes more important to appear to provide appropriate training to employees than to actually provide effective training? As the world seems to become more complex, and as the training industry definitely becomes more complex, it's common to take one's eye off the ball and focus training budgets on things that are merely related to training.
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