Economy Shifts Focus From Business to Technical Skills

According to a recent study by Watson Wyatt, 23 percent of training programs across all industries have been reduced or completely eliminated. Another 18 percent are expected to be further diminished this year. This is troubling news for IT, given that the industry relies heavily on education and credentials for success.

“[CIOs are] cutting across the board,” said Dennis Kilian, senior vice president of sales for Safari Books Online, which provides e-learning content for technical professionals and organizations. “They’re literally just coming in and saying, ‘We paid you that much last year [for your service], and it doesn’t matter what you say or do, we have less budget this year.’”

In response to these cuts, IT managers are reducing soft skills training, as recently documented by Josh Bersin of Bersin & Associates. Soft skills include communication and presentation skills that are valuable in the workplace, especially for those in leadership roles.

“I think that people see soft skills as something that’s readily available and may be more commoditized,” Kilian said. “It’s not the idea that [IT organizations] don’t need the soft skills or that they aren’t important, but that you can shop around and you can get [them] for less.”

One example of getting soft skills for less is through referring employees to books or other inexpensive resources for brushing up on their business savvy. What’s more critical in this current economy is ensuring the technical skills are up to par, Kilian said.

“[Companies are thinking], ‘If…

Meagan Polakowski


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