What Tech Workers Really Want Credit: Worker Tech Image via Shutterstock

Helping employees develop new skills is critical to attracting top technology workers, research shows.

A new study by staffing firm Robert Half Technology discovered that in today's constantly evolving landscape, nearly 70 percent of IT professionals believe the ability to become proficient in new areas is very important when evaluating a job opportunity.

Additionally, making sure their talents are sharp is a top priority for the majority of IT workers. More than 6 percent are very concerned about keeping their skills current in the next three to five years.

"IT workers know that the industry moves quickly and favors employers that will help them keep their technical skills relevant," said John Reed, Robert Half Technology senior executive director.

Despite employee desire, the study revealed that more than 40 percent of companies do not have training and development programs for IT professionals.

"Training and development programs are equally beneficial to businesses because they allow them to build internal teams with hard-to-find technical skills," Reed said.

Robert Half Technology offers employers three tips to help them further develop the skills of their IT staff:

  • Pay for relevant learning: Reimburse staff for relevant online classes, educational conferences and courses offered by professional associations or local colleges. If employees seek (or already hold) industry certifications, consider reimbursing them for the costs to obtain and maintain them.
  • Be flexible: If team members are expected to complete professional development courses on their personal time, they may forgo training opportunities altogether. Be willing to make scheduling accommodations or adjust workloads when necessary.
  • Look inside: Companies that simply don't have the budget to reimburse employees for continuing education expenses should tap internal subject matter experts. Hold brown-bag training sessions so one employee can educate others on a particular topic. Mentoring arrangements are another proven and cost-efficient way to transfer knowledge and support development.

The study was based on surveys of more than 7,500 IT workers and 2,300 chief information officers from a random sample of U.S. companies in 23 major metro areas with 100 or more employees.

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