I recently wrote about the top IT positions in cities where growth is the highest. No huge surprise, but these jobs tend to fall into new categories where few IT pros and developers have been formally trained, such as mobile app development, business analysis, and experience with cloud computing and virtualization.

Rather than fight to the death (and pay the hefty salaries) over the handful of people who are both business and technology experts (as one example), why not pursue a training program to build up these types of employees? Employees in technology are used to change and adaptation and you're really doing these employees a favor by training them in high-growth areas.

But it's not enough to simply sign the check and send your workers off to boot camp. According to a survey of 3,000 managers by ESI International, most employees use only a portion of the content they learn in training on the job, and most organizations have no organized process to measure what their employees are learning and how they can/should use it. As a result, these training opportunities (which are both critical and expensive) fall short of their full potential, and can create a hesitance to direct more funds there year after year.

Here are a few highlights from the study:

  • 60 percent said the primary method for measuring how much training is used on the job is either informal/anecdotal feedback or “simply a guess.”
  • 60 percent indicated that they do not have a systematic approach to preparing a trainee to transfer, or apply, learning on the job. 
  • 63 percent say managers formally endorse a training program, but only 23 percent of managers hold more formal pre- and post-training discussions.

The takeaway from this study is that whether your training offerings are designed to modernize an employee's knowledge of a given system, expand them into other technology fields, or something else altogether, you should have a discussion beforehand about what you expect each staff member to learn and how you believe they can apply it to their role. Then, make sure to have follow up meetings both after the training and a few months down the line to see how they're applying the training.

And this might sound elementary, but it's good to remember: keep a list of not only the roles and technology that your staff work in, but what fields they are interested in and what goals they have for their own professional development. If you can align your company's needs with an individual's personal goals, you'll have a level of accountability and aptitude already buffered into the training process.

What training have your staff had in the past few years, and how have you measured the success or failure of those initiatives? In what directions and specialties do you want to see your staff grow?

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Related: 10 Career Development Tips from IT Experts