What are you worth to your employer? Increasingly, it's not who you are but your value profile that determines how much your employer will spend on training you. Your value profile describes how much you contribute to the company and it can determine your place on the training waiting list. When you first start a new job, the odds are that you'll have zero or even negative value to the company that employs you, says analyst GartnerGroup. Your only value comes from your generic skills, but you need to update even these skills. Your value increases through training and knowledge development, so employers offer training in the early stages because they want you to reach the peak of your value. Once at your peak, training starts to cool off. At this point, employers switch into retention mode, offering perks such as bonuses. As systems age and architecture changes, your value begins to decay, meaning that you need new training. If you're at the wrong stage of this value cycle, raising the finance and management support for training will be difficult. Some managers still take a short-term view on training, seeing it as a costly distraction. Something that could tip the balance in your favour is online computer-based training, which tackles many of the issues managers worry about, such as cost, impact on productivity and return on investment, while giving staff access to training. The latest online offerings from companies such as NETg and Radiant Knowledge Systems offer more structured training and are shamelessly geared towards improving productivity. NETg's Xtreme online learning programme uses a technique which asks students to identify what they know, and what they think they know. The programme then directs them to the parts of the course they actually need. Such training packages can be personally tailored, while self-paced learning means it can be fitted around normal work commitments. The technical courses are mapped to industry certifications and simulate real-world applications. NETg hosts courses on a NETg server accessed over the Net. Bandwidth can be an issue, but individual modules can be downloaded to a local PC or run over an intranet. The system is geared towards cost-effective corporate use. There is a £5,000 annual fee to access the service, with additional fees based on the type of course and the number of students. If your manager remains unconvinced, you can buy into the service anyway. Costs would typically be £100 for a basic end-user course, rising to £750 for more technical courses. You can also buy training bundles. Radiant Knowledge Systems has teamed up with MentorLabs to introduce the vLab tool to UK networking and Cisco specialists. vLab provides 24x7 access to real networking products over the Net or a corporate intranet. This allows hands-on experience without the need to invest in expensive kit. With online training on a roll - researcher IDC predicts a compound annual growth rate of more than 135% in the next five years - continuous learning is becoming increasingly accessible. That's good for you, because companies are running out of reasons to refuse training opportunities.
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