As an IT professional, you likely understand the need to continually sharpen and expand your skills, for your own benefit as well as that of your employer. But how do you convince decision-makers at your organization that it’s in their best interest to invest in your professional development?
First off, realize that investing in employee digital skills training is on the rise. An October 2022 ExitCertified survey of 420 high-level IT managers, spanning a range of industries, found that 70% of large and mid-sized companies and half of smaller companies plan to increase their training budgets in the coming year. A quarter of them plan to increase this budget by more than 10 percent. The survey results can be found in The 2023 State of IT Training Report.
Even with these increased budgets, however, it remains challenging to ensure that every member of an IT team gets the training needed to address the ever-growing skills gaps created by the digital boom.
You can take the initiative to help ensure that you are among those included in your company’s training budget and that the training you receive aligns with your passions and chosen career path. Following is a guide for getting your company to support training that advances your career along with the company goals.
Start With a Development Plan
You are the one who is primarily in charge of your career. With that in mind, don’t wait for your boss to make a move. Come up with a personal development plan to keep improving your ability to do your job and to stay abreast of evolving technology.
Devote at least a few minutes each day, or an hour a week, to brush up on key IT forecasts and trends through activities such as reading articles, listening to podcasts, or joining professional organizations. Consider how these trends may benefit your organization and how they align with your own interests and career goals.
Ultimately, you want to gain a clear idea of what may be on the horizon for your industry and how you can stay on the leading edge. This knowledge will help you build the rationale for your company to invest in the training and development you desire.
Identify Specific Training Resources
Once you determine the skills that you want to acquire, research the best options for obtaining them. Identify an accredited course or workshop that fits the bill.
Get details about the cost of the training, the amount of time required and the type of certification that you will receive upon successful completion. Describe the top three skills you hope to gain from taking this course.
These details should be included in the pitch to your boss, along with an online link to the specific course you wish to take.
Determine the Return on Investment
Finally, and most importantly, consider the company’s point of view. What will be the return on investment, or ROI, for funding your professional development?
An ROI does not necessarily mean a specific dollar amount. If you want to enroll in a software development course, for example, explain how this training will allow you to perform more tasks, streamline your workflow and improve efficiencies.
Create a list of positive ripple effects your training can have on the company. Possible examples include:
- Reduced operating costs
- Higher profit margins
- Improved customer satisfaction
- A more flexible team
- Reduction in errors
- Enhanced security
- Greater productivity
- Better abilities to help teammates
Carefully consider the various ways that the training you seek can benefit the company and tailor your request accordingly. Putting thought into how the training will add value to the company shows that your motivation for professional development goes beyond personal gain.
Timing is Everything
Some companies set a minimum time of employment before investing in an employee’s training. Check your company’s policies on employee professional development to learn when you will qualify. You can usually find this information on the HR website.
Finally, make your request during a time that it is most likely for your supervisor to have available funds. For many companies that means at the beginning of the fiscal year when a new budget is allocated.
Following is a customizable email template for making a pitch to your supervisor.