Questions have been raised about employers' commitment to IT training following the publication of research which shows that IT training staff are paid significantly lower salaries than other IT professionals.
A survey by the Institute of IT Training found that IT training managers earn, on average, £34,000 a year - nearly £10,000 less than the typical IT manager; £4,000 less than operations managers; and £3,000 less than project managers.
"Corporates don't value the training function as they should," said Colin Steed, chief executive of the Institute for IT Training. "A properly developed training department can grow the company. You could argue that they are more important than other parts of the business that are more highly paid."
The research shows that corporate IT training staff are also poorly paid in comparison with staff working for specialist IT training companies, raising fears that the best corporate IT training staff will eventually come under pressure to leave for better paid jobs with IT training specialists.
The survey of 242 training professionals shows that training companies pay average salaries of £30,280 compared to an average salary of only £28,840 in corporate training departments.
The Institute of IT Training argues that professionally-qualified IT trainers should be paid as much as other IT professionals, particularly when they have management responsibilities.
"An IT training manager should be on par with an IT manager," said Steed. "The responsibilities of IT training managers are huge. They need to be involved at the beginning of IT projects. They are an integral part of systems implementation."
Employers often skimp on providing training for their training staff, the research suggests. Training staff typically receive an average of nine and a half days training a year, made up of almost six days product training and three days "training skills" training. Training managers only receive three days training a year.
But the institute's claims have been met with scepticism by IT directors who say they are not convinced that paying training staff higher salaries will lead to a better standard of IT training in their companies.
"Who are you going to get to become trainers? It's not necessarily the person who's a damned good programmer or analyst. If they get their thrill from designing systems, they are not going to want to become trainers," said Roger Ellis, IT management consultant. "Everyone would like to earn good money, but £35,000 is a good salary," he added.
Ellis, who has had extensive experience deciding pay scales as an IT director, said that salaries should depend on three components: know-how, problem-solving and accountability.
"A training person will need a lot of know-how but not a lot of problem-solving. If you have someone with an IT role they may not be accountable, but they need a lot of know-how and problem-solving ability," he said.
The survey shows that qualification levels among IT training professionals are increasing, with 82% now having professional qualifications compared with 10% five years ago.
Supplier-driven training schemes such as Microsoft's MCT programme are the most popular qualifications, followed by the Institute for IT Training's Trainer Assessment Programme and the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development's Certificate in Training Practice.
Although salaries are low, corporate trainers often qualify for good benefits packages. Forty four percent have life insurance, 76%, pensions, 20% company cars, half have private health insurance and 40% receive annual bonuses.
This was first published in February 2002