Contractors are shunning formal training courses in favour of on-the-job training, even though the vast majority - over 90 per cent - are worried about keeping up to date with their technical skills.
Almost 60 per cent of respondents to a survey conducted by IT recruitment company Elan had not undertaken any training courses in the past year.
Of those who had been on courses, more than three-quarters had completed only one or two courses in the last 12 months, according to the study.
"The IT market is always evolving and changing, making it vital for contractors to stay ahead of the game and ensure they are as employable as possible," said Mike Berry, commercial director of Elan Computing.
"This is backed up by research conducted among employers, the majority of whom stated that technical skills are a key requirement when choosing a contractor."
Alan Bellinger, sales and marketing director of bootcamp training company Wave, denied that the findings marked a shift in the training market.
"The propensity for IT contractors to train is much lower than someone at an entry level. If 40 per cent did some training in the last year, I think that's a very positive figure."
Although the IT training market has suffered considerably since 11 September, Bellinger said the market was showing signs of picking up.
"The Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer certification has lost enormous favour in the last year, and that is mainly due to decertification drivers, but in general certification terms we are seeing a slight uptake."
But John Eary, head of the NCC skills source consultancy, said the study highlighted a shift in approach away from training and towards learning.
"Contractors tend to go for qualifications and to get those they probably do more self study or on-the-job experience. Shelling out several hundred pounds for a formal training course eats into their income," Eary said.
"Training is just a means to an end and there are routes other than formal training. What we're really talking about is learning."
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