Peter Kidson, in PC Week Letters, 27 October, claims that it is economically irrational for employers to fund training. Such funding is nothing more than a form of investment and the rational for any investment is whether the benefits exceed the cost.
So let's examine the two parts of this equation in the case of training.
I will assume that we are running a one-man project which will last for four weeks and that a permanent member of staff is earning #24,000 per year.
The average one week training course costs between #1,000 and #1,500.
To this we must add the salary costs for this week and a further four weeks salary to allow for the period required before productivity is achieved.
Add a further #2,000 for salary during the project and we have a total cost of #5,000.
To quantify the benefits in an abstract case is impossible but we can assume that a value in a real case can be determined. If this is not the case and no benefit can be achieved then clearly the investment would not be justified. While we can't quantify the benefits we can determine the costs if the need is achieved through recruitment, contracting or outsourcing.
If we were lucky enough to recruit someone with the skills at the same #24,000 salary we are likely to incur agency fees which can amount to as much as 40% of the first year's salary, thus the total project cost would be #12,000.
A contractor will cost between three and four times as much as a permanent staff member thus totalling #6,000 to #8,000. If we go down the outsourcing route the charge-out rates are roughly four times that of a contractor thus giving us #24,000. To this we need to add the management costs of recruitment and possible assimilation costs.
Suddenly we find that even if a newly trained employee leaves after eight weeks our investment has been worthwhile to the tune of at least #1,000.
Obviously if the employee stays even longer then the greater the benefit.
Mr Kidson's list of solutions seems to be based on the belief that only the employee benefits which is clearly not true.
Realistically few employers are going to accept someone as possessing a skill if they have only a couple of months practical experience with it. To blame the training as the incentive for a person to be offered an increased salary after such a short period is unrealistic.
Moreover, it is equally unrealistic to believe that when an employee leaves for a higher paid job it is solely the salary that is the motivation.
While a small minority of individuals do move from one job to the next simply to increase their income, such people will leave whether they receive training or not.
This example clearly demonstrates the benefits of training and I would suggest it is the key to getting the training that you want. Instead of simply requesting a course and getting a summary refusal, present your manager with a business case that justifies it. If this is still refused then it is his decision that is irrational.
Via the Net
Taken to task
Sacre bleu - I seem to have upset Richard Sarson ("Year 2000? A load of FUD," 27 October). So, I'm hysterical and shrill am I? Perhaps it's not for me to judge.
Although I'm getting a bit old for jumping up and down, I plead not guilty to all the nonsense about predicting doom and disaster. For well over two years, I have been saying that, yes, we have a problem - and we cannot solve it all. But, by tackling it from the top, not leaving it to the IT people who got us into this mess, by prioritising and, in particular, by getting on with it, we can get through the worst of it.
Although, with barely 14 months left, my optimism is getting a bit threadbare.
And I have to admit it, some criticism of Action 2000 may have crept in from time to time. Is that so wicked? Poor dears.
By the way, Richard, chucking out your PC and buying a Mac is not such a brilliant idea. The BIOS may be okay but that doesn't fix the operating system, the application software and all that stuff - spreadsheets, databases and so on - you developed yourself using good ol' two digit years. And there are more tools to help the PC user than there are for the Mac. Not such good advice.
But he's right about the American lawyers.
Cheers all round
I thought I'd Email you to say thank you ever so much for publishing yet another brilliant edition of PC Week last week.
There have been those weeks when PC Week hasn't made me smile at all.
That was because they weren't funny editions. However, I find that as Microsoft goes on in its "endless mission" to produce "high quality" software I am more easily to be found laughing loudly while still stone cold sober.
I have now come to the conclusion that I must have one or two pints of beer before I read PC Week so that I can make the excuse that "I was drunk at the time." I am unable to read The Guardian IT supplement on Thursdays without imbibing some real ale first. The landlord is now used to me laughing out loud in his smoke-free back room on or about Thursday nights.
I thought that this week's editorial on page 32 "The Devil lies within" was superb. Mole on page 50 is something that I look forward to every time. I'm ex-RAF and worked on Nimrods as a photographer. The one about NT server and the US Yorktown finished me completely. Took me an hour to get back to reasonably good quality tech support on the phone. I hope that Mole continues in his good health until the end of the next century.
May the force of the year 2000 bug never be with him
Via the Net
Have we been sarsoned ...
Richard Sarson's Outside Edge (27 October) was the latest in what seems to be an emerging industry fashion on the subject of year 2000, and nobody seems to notice the inconsistency. Typically, these articles start off by rubbishing Robin Guenier and the work of Taskforce 2000. But have you noticed that they then go on to agree with pretty much everything that he is saying?
Maybe the key verb should be "to sarson", meaning "to support someone's point of view with evidence from an independent source, while simultaneously proclaiming that the case has been over-hyped". If it's a choice, let's be clear.
On the one hand, the effective high profile targetted awareness campaign which Robin Guenier was running on a shoestring before he was so rudely interrupted. On the other, the ludicrous efforts which have lost the public year 2000 campaign over a year since the 1997 elections, given us a silly Internet logo and at least two public relations failures (the "lads army" and the lost-without-trace Millennium Pledge campaign).
Clearly Sarson never heard Robin Guenier's statement of the year 2000 challenge. I did. He knew exactly what the issues are, what is at risk and why; and defined the business agenda for getting it sorted, over two years ago.
He also knows that time has moved on, and the agenda is different now - something which Action 2000 with its bugbusters has yet to realise.
Maybe we all need to listen to Guenier a little more.
Via the Net
... or have we been gueniered?
I like the idea (Richard Sarson, Outside Edge) of inventing a new verb, "to guenier", but to make the joke really funny requires a closer basis in reality. I have seen Robin Guenier speak at several Year 2000 conferences and have never seen him jump up and down hysterically, nor speak shrilly, nor suggest that the sky is going to fall, with or without a bang. Why waste a good joke with this nonsense?
Later we are told that in the PC world 5% of the problem can be traced to the real-time clock, BIOS and firmware and that the rest lies in the operating system. Is Sarson still in joking mode or did he forget to do any research?
It is in the applications, the data, and data transfer that most of the PC problems lie (and is why his suggestion to chuck out your PCs and buy Macs also falls flat).
We need a word for such articles: a "sarson" perhaps. The word is redolent with possibilities and I leave it as an amusing exercise for the reader to come up with a definition.
Bits of paper
After seeing the front page headline (20 October) proclaiming "IBM readies 64-bit paper" I could not help wondering if it will be backwardly compatible with my 8-bit pencil and my 2-bit crayon?
Keep up the good work!
Via the Net
A 17in monitor weekly
Roll up for your chance to win a stunning 17in Taxan ErgoVision 730 TCO95 monitor every week! PC Week will be giving you the chance to walk away with a 17in FST monitor, worth #349, and all you have to do is write a letter. Each week we'll be giving away a monitor to the best, or most relevant, letter we receive. Letters should be about something that has been covered in PC Week and relating to some aspect of the industry that you feel strongly about. So next time you have an opinion on what's happening out there - serious or amusing - write to us and put yourself in with a chance to win. Send your Emails to [email protected], or your letters by post to: PC Week, Letters, VNU Business Publications, 32-34 Broadwick St, London WIA 2HG.
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