Windows NT Magazine recently lost a Web developer and a systems engineer because the market was paying higher salaries than we were. However, pay isn't the only reason people change jobs. Demand for Windows NT skills is increasing much faster than the supply of qualified professionals, and a job that offers professional development can be a big draw for IS people.
The demand for qualified IS professionals won't soon decrease. The US Department of Labor estimates that new technologies will generate 80 percent of all new jobs in the next 10 years. The number of positions for systems analysts and computer engineers will double over the next 8 years. Therefore, management must have a strategy for finding, training, and retaining qualified people.
Among the many ways to find qualified talent are a few you might not think of. For example, some NT user groups allocate meeting time for employers and job seekers, and post job openings in their electronic newsletters. (Before you take advantage of user group resources, get permission from the group officer.) A complete listing of NT user groups is on page 223.
Another source for finding talent is your company's Web site. Posting job opportunities and requirements there is a good way to reach qualified people. Several job candidates I've recently interviewed have found the job posting on Duke Communications' Web site (http://www.duke.com). An additional resource is at career-specific Web sites such as http://www.monsterboard.com or http://www.skills2000.com.
Once you find qualified professionals, determine how much of your budget you'll spend on training and how to allocate those funds. Perhaps 5 percent of the IS budget is sufficient to keep your staff trained on the latest technology. Determine an amount and fight to keep it in your budget. You can certainly justify budgeting for training: How much money will lack of training cost the company when it has to delay or cancel projects?
What are possible allocation strategies? You can divide your training budget evenly among everyone in IS. For example, you might allocate $2500 per employee and let people spend that amount as they see fit. Employees might spend their $2500 buying books and videos, or shoot the whole wad at one TechEd conference. Or, you can allocate training based on job function. For example, you can fund training for a generalist to become an MCSE, a specialist to become a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) for NT Server and SQL Server, and a novice to become an NT Workstation MCP.
Nine of the top 10 Microsoft exams in November 1997 related to NT: NT Server 4.0, Networking Essentials, NT Workstation 4.0, NT Server--Enterprise, TCP/IP 4.0, SQL 6.5--Implementation, IIS 3.0, NT Server 3.51, and SQL 6.5--Administration. Don't forget that training never ends. Because the exams (and supporting classes) are tied to product versions, employees must plan to retake exams when Microsoft releases new product versions.
Finally, figure out how to keep employees. Besides paying them at market value, training employees and maintaining their education are important. According to Microsoft Certified Professional Magazine's (http://www.mcpmag.com) latest salary survey, the average salary for an MCSE in 1997 was $67,600, and an MCSE adds an average of $11,000 to a noncertified individual's salary. In 1 year, that $11,000 can cover the cost of instructor-led training for an MCSE, usually the most costly training option.