Product specific training is no-longer sufficient to meet the needs with IT and business issues. of the IT skills gap, according to Roland Richter, a Novell vice president.
In the Dealing with the Skills Shortage white paper, exclusively shown to PC Week, Richter says that at a time when companies are stressing the need for return on their IT investment, well-trained personnel ought to be top priority. But this is not the case.
"Many licences for sophisticated software packages are being wasted because staff, as a result of inadequate training, either misuse the system or use just a fraction of its features," he said.
"Hybrid" managers with understanding of both business needs and IT capabilities will be necessary in the coming millennium to end the problem of IT lagging behind business requirements, Richter argued. "Hybrid managers will be seen as a new breed of professional able to play a leading role in this to create awareness of IT's potential in the business, educating IT professionals in the business, as well as educate the business in what is achievable and realistic with IT. To be able to do this you effectively need the knowledge and experience of both business and IT which is possessed by a hybrid manager."
The report says it would be "fool hardy" for business managers ignore the uptake of technology with its implications for electronic commerce but to meet this challenge, companies need people with skills that are not simply product specific.
"By far the biggest factor affecting the change in training for users remains the adoption of new technology," Richter said. "With IT systems now strategically placed at the heart of business operations - particularly the bespoke applications and enterprise-level systems - it is unfortunate and a little foolhardy that senior professionals don't do more to develop their knowledge and experience of IT."
"The explosive growth of the Internet as a powerful communications, marketing and commercial medium has revolutionised the business world and certified Internet professionals will be needed to support these requirements."
Novell's certification programme is not product or company-specific.
It is also standard, and therefore portable, so that professionals can transfer their qualifications between countries and into new markets.
To support the concept of cyclical learning, it retrains and retests currently certified professionals on the latest technology, so they can be immediately used on new developments with up-to-date knowledge.
Novell has now providing a training programme, dubbed InfiLearning, giving businesses a choice of instructor-led or self-paced learning, the convenience of on-line training, peer interaction, skills assessment, and continual career support.
Employers use Novell certifications as the global standard for hiring, promoting and compensating network support personnel. A 1997 IDC survey showed that 78% of companies have experienced greater productivity from Novell-certified employees, and 92% have realised financial benefits with Novell-certified employees. Many companies that invest in Novell certification have reported a financial payback in less than nine months, according to Novell.
Richter concludes that the verynature of IT training is going through a fundamental change.
"The function of training, education and certification has been elevated in recent years from ensuring skill levels of individual employees to enhancing the performance and productivity of entire organisations," he said.
"As companies try to do more with fewer employees, the only way to stay abreast of rapidly changing technologies and retain key personnel is for them to invest in continuous learning for their workforce."
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