I must say, I can’t quite fathom why training is such a hard sell within many organizations. I realize that its value is difficult to quantify, but shouldn’t we know in our gut that it’s the right thing to do?

Gartner estimates that an hour of professional end-user training is worth five hours or more to the business. Yet some senior executives still equate training with having the corporate pocket picked by the likes of Fagin and the Artful Dodger.

Now a recent IDC report points out that some of us are not even training our own IT staffs very well. Like the cobbler’s son, many IT workers go unshod in the very business they are deemed to be experts in.

“Many IT organizations deploy technology without knowing how to effectively use it, and as a result they lose significant time and money in the misuse of the technology or by not optimizing its functionality,” said Cushing Anderson, program director, IDC Learning Services.

The study, sponsored by Symantec, clearly underscored the value of a well-trained IT staff. They spend more time on high-value activities, such as maintaining and improving operations, and less time on low-value activities than a poorer trained staff. Better training a two- or three-person IT team can boost productivity by 10 percent, the study shows, which should result in savings of up to 2,000 hours or $70,000 per year. Not chicken feed, especially when you start ramping up the number of trained staff.

Still, it’s the end-user workforce where I expect the bulk of the value lies. A survey from employer-led, not-for-profit training organization E-Skills UK found that while only 40 percent of computer users receive IT training, 90 percent of new jobs now require IT skills.

On the face of it, you’d think that CIOs would be lining up to do ROI studies in order to sell the idea of investing more in training. But it isn’t happening, and according to Donald Taylor, Chairman of the Learning Technologies and IITT National Trainers conferences, there’s good reason: such studies are time-consuming and complicated to calculate. But the “show stopper” he says, is that apart from trainers, nobody really cares about training ROI. People already know that training works. What they want is value.

The trick is to find the pain points in your organization that can be best addressed by training. Find your training “value proposition” and you’ll put yourself on the right track. 072278

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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