Several Paths Diverge in the Quest for IT Professional Development

Several Paths Diverge in the Quest for IT Professional Development

Ongoing training is key to success, according to survey data, and IT pros are leveraging many different methods to get it.

IT professionals in general find it critical to keep up to date on technological advances, according to the 2015 IT Skills & Salary Survey.  The ways in which IT pros do so, however, vary depending on their roles and disciplines.

The 2015 IT Skills and Salary Survey was conducted online from Sept. 15 to Oct. 24, 2014. More than half a million survey invitations were sent to recipients from the databases of Global Knowledge, Windows IT Pro, and partner companies and organizations. More than 16,300 responses worldwide were returned, with 68 percent coming from the United States and Canada. This year’s survey is the eighth annual for Global Knowledge and the third in partnership with Windows IT Pro. (Download the full report here.)

The degree to which survey respondents value IT training varies according to the number of years they have been in their careers: Almost three-quarters of IT pros with 0-5 years tenure said their professional development was focused on IT training, but more than half of those with 20 years or more of tenure also said they value IT training. The number of respondents focused on the areas of project management, business practice analysis, and leadership and professional skills was much lower, but still significant across all stages of tenure.

So, how are they getting all of this training? It looks like many are just Googling it: Eighty-five percent of IT staff, 87 percent of IT decision-makers and 86 percent of non-IT staff surveyed said they “researched a topic online” to gain more knowledge.

That would be an informal training method, and the choices given to respondents could be broken down as either “formal” or “informal” training. Informal training, according to the report, includes activities such as researching topics online, attending webinars and seminars, and downloading whitepapers. Formal training includes classroom learning (both in a classroom or online) and working with DVD-based training tools.

According to the report based on the study, the type of training people prefer depends on their IT discipline. For example, those in voice engineering, security, network operations, project management and IT architecture prefer instructor-led classroom training, while developers tend to prefer online self-directed courses. (Read into that what you will.)

The methods for keeping IT skills current also varied by an IT professional’s role in his or her organization. Here are the top five methods for IT staff and IT decision makers, from most utilized to least utilized:

IT Staff

  1. Researched a topic online
  2. Attended Web seminars
  3. Read a whitepaper
  4. Self-directed online
  5. Attended a seminar, luncheon or conference

IT Decision-Maker

  1. Researched a topic online
  2. Read a whitepaper
  3. Attended Web seminars
  4. Attended a seminar, luncheon or conference
  5. Self-directed online

Note that the methods are the same for each group, but the rank in terms of utilization is different.

Of all of the choices given to respondents, the least utilized among any group was self-directed offline training.

How important is professional development to your career? How are you getting it? Please let us know in the comments section below.

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