Why you should train your staff

By   |  February 21, 2005

Previously, we looked at the value of training and what certifications are available. This is a good time to shift the focus a little onto the employer, and ask \”why should you train your staff?\”

People want to be good at their job. Bosses want their people to do their job well, and we all know that a competent, knowledgeable employee is an asset to the company.

Now, you could take an informal approach to making your staff more competent, and expect them to learn the subject as they go along. That\’s how I learned my way through Linux — read a bit here, experiment a bit there. It was a great learning experience, but also took a long time, and that time could have been better spent. As an employer, can you really afford this hit-and-miss approach? Think of the salary bill you will be paying while waiting for someone to get up to speed!

At a rough guess, it probably takes the average person 6 months to get a good grasp of the Linux basics if he does it himself. Add another 6 months to be proficient. It could easily cost a year\’s salary before you get someone who can deliver real value to the company.

Formal training shortens that period. It takes about a month to get the average IT person with experience through the basics of Linux in a properly structured program. Add perhaps another month to grasp the fundamentals of Internet services like web servers, mail servers and security. Two months versus six months.

I must also stress that formal training alone is not enough — there is no substitute for real practical experience once the basics have been thoroughly learned. Training and experience together are a killer combination, greater than the sum of the parts.

I\’m not trying to give definitive numbers here, I\’m communicating a concept and a point of view: why you should train your staff. I leave the calculation of long term cost savings, expected increased productivity and so on to the experts in that field. My job is to train your staff after you have these facts, and have made an informed decision.

I leave you with two parting thoughts:

Trained, knowledgeable people can control their jobs and deliver value. Untrained people cannot do this.

Alan McKinnon is head trainer at Afribiz. This column is published every two weeks.

Previous columns in this series:
Why Linux and OSS training?
The real value of certification
Choosing the right Linux certification

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