Employees working in IT and technology are more valued than they think they are, probably thanks to encouragement from senior management, according to a new study.
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The study, carried out on behalf of global online learning provider SkillSoft, shows that the managers of IT professionals are also more likely to encourage them to develop their skills. Over half of IT professionals surveyed thought their bosses led by example against an average of 44% across other occupations. Only 27% thought they could do a better job than their bosses. And IT professionals are 10% more likely to think their bosses are competent than those working in other disciplines (83% as opposed to 73%).
The survey also shows that IT professionals are more strategically aware than colleagues working in other areas of the business. 84% knew what their organisation’s business objectives were compared with an average of 69% of employees working in other job roles. Yet 70% didn’t believe that their job reflected their true potential and only 45% felt valued at work.
SkillSoft suggests that such findings go some way to explaining why IT professionals change job more often than others within their organisations: 24% had worked for their current employer for less than six months against an average of 11% across other occupations.
Another factor affecting IT staff churn may be that IT professionals feel more discriminated against at work. Three-quarters of those interviewed believed they were discriminated against because of their age; 43% because they were too young (average 31%) and 32% because they were too old (average 32%).
SkillSoft argues that, contrary to received wisdom, IT workers are actually more likely to be promoted than their colleagues outside the IT function. 23% had been given a promotion at work within the last six months against an average of 11%.
The managers of IT professionals were also more likely to encourage them to develop their skills: 73% against an average of 60%. And 28% of IT workers claimed to receive a lot of support for from their managers in relation to their professional development against an average of 19% across other job roles.
IT professionals were also more likely to be allocated time to develop their skills during working hours than their non-IT colleagues (43% against an average of 35%). Professional development was clearly important to this group. More than a third would be prepared to do all their training and development in their own time if necessary whereas only 25% of other employees would consider giving up their own time to learn.
And an overwhelming 82% of IT professionals said they would happily invest a proportion of their personal time in training if their employers would do their part and give them more time to develop at work.
When asked what sort of skills they felt would help them to achieve their full career potential, 45% of IT professionals said general business skills; 40% wanted more management and leadership training and 55% were looking to hone their IT-specific competencies.
Considerably fewer than average felt they needed training in desktop skills: 20% against an average of 35%.
Not surprisingly, IT professionals made much greater use of online learning such as e-learning and virtual classrooms (41% as opposed to 23% generally) and referenceware such as Books24x7 was popular with these employees too (43% used online books and reference materials against an average of 20%).
A further 45% could see the benefit of having access to a multi-modal search facility allowing instant access a variety of online learning resources by topic/role – and said they would use such a service either daily or at least two to three times a week if it was available to them.
Perhaps because they are more comfortable using such informal learning methods, when asked which they would prefer if they had to choose one or the other; the response was equal: 31% opted for formal and 31% for informal learning. However, as with employees working in other job disciplines, a clear majority (59%) would prefer to have access to both formal and informal learning methods through a blended learning approach.
In terms of where the responsibility lies for professional development, 94% of IT professionals were more likely to want control of their own learning, but currently only 35% of the respondents had the autonomy to choose their own training, which was only slightly higher than their non-IT colleagues (29%).
IT workers are generally happier about their working environment and more realistic about their value as well. 69% felt that their working environment allowed them to keep up to date with the latest technology, which was 30% higher than the average across all occupations. And 43% thought they were paid enough for their job against an average of 32% of people working in other disciplines.