Keeping your skills sharp and current isn’t optional – it’s imperative if you want to have a high-paying job and enduring career in tech. So it was surprising to find that 38 percent of employees and 53 percent of contractors plan to self-fund their own training based on a survey of 1,200 UK tech professionals for the Dice 2017 Job Market Report.
After all, developing your IT Service Management (ITSM) skills or learning secure coding practices doesn’t just benefit you, it helps your employer as well.
Mark Moore, a former engineer and founder of training firm, Excelerated Performance, acknowledged that many companies have been reluctant to invest in training and development. However, with the market tightening and the most sought-after technical skills in short supply, he senses that a policy shift could be coming.
Of course, planning and meeting face-to-face are the keys to success when tackling tricky conversations about wages and benefits. So here’s a look at the most effective techniques for building a compelling case for employer-paid training.
Build the Business Case
Generally speaking, training initiatives need to have a direct impact on key business achievements or help to build leadership for the future. To make sure your proposal resonates, be sure it offers equal value to your boss and the company as well as yourself.
For instance, it would be hard to turn down a request for funding when staffers need additional skills to carry out a decision to move to a DevOps model or to move mobile development in-house.
Switching between detail and big picture views throughout your discussion suggests that you understand your boss’s perspective and her need to run financial decisions past the director or CIO Moore added.
“Don’t ask for funding in a nondescript way,” advised Rob Blythe, director and co-founder of recruitment firm, Instant Impact. “Be specific about how much the course will cost, how much time it will take and what you will provide in return.”
Discuss the options you considered, including night and weekend classes and low-cost online courses, especially if money is tight. Keep in mind that it will be easier to convince your boss to go for a more expensive program if the upside is higher.
Citing actual data and examples when describing the impact on deliverables will make your case stronger. Not sure how to calculate the ROI? Contact the training provider or network with course graduates to approximate the payback time and rewards. Also, check with accounting in case your company qualifies for financial assistance from the government for employee training.
Offer to Share the Wealth
Sometimes, professionals aren’t willing to share their hard-earned knowledge with others. Unfortunately, hording technical know-how can reduce a company’s motivation to pay for training and certifications.
Eliminate this potential barrier up front by volunteering to share the knowledge you acquire and help others grow. In fact, since contractors are often called in to eliminate critical gaps in strategic capabilities, offering to train up junior workers can be an effective way to get a client to pay for a technical conference Blythe noted.
Some tech conferences, such as the Strata + Hadoop World Conference in London, provide helpful strategies for convincing your boss. Why stress, when everything you need to justify your request could be right at your fingertips.
Have a Fallback Position
Your boss may turn down your request for fear that your work will suffer or that you’ll hit the market after earning a new certification and leave him holding the bag. Anticipating his concerns and being prepared to offer solutions and alternatives is vital noted John Wellwood, managing director and CEO of training firm, 100% Effective.
“Offer to complete one training module at a time and measure the results,” he suggested. “It’s often easier to get approval if you take things one step at a time.”
Show your commitment by agreeing to share the expense with your employer or asking to be reimbursed in installments over the next 12 months as proof that you are committed to staying with the company.
Have a strategy in mind for covering your workload if you will be out of the office or taking an online course during the day.
“Where most people go wrong is they don’t do enough pre-work,” Wellwood said. “The more you prepare for your discussion with your boss, the more likely you are to reach an agreement that benefits everyone.”