Banks and insurance companies are spending more on training their IT staff to meet the demands of regulatory compliance, according to training provider Thomson NETg.
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Investment in IT training by the finance sector slumped after 2000, but showed signs of recovery in 2005 as employers began to step up IT spending. "We are seeing increasing demand for training for large systems - new systems that they are putting in and systems they are already using," said Dave Parrot, marketing director of Thomson NETg.
"We have seen systems going in to support management and compliance risk over the past couple of years."
Financial firms are focusing more and more on the value that IT can bring to the bottom line, and are investing in training to support that, said Learning Tree.
"One of the main growth areas of demand is for IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL)," said the company. "ITIL is a framework of best practice that delivers return on investment and impacts the bottom line. The whole IT department operates more efficiently."
Financial firms are increasingly favouring blended learning, which combines classroom training with e-learning, for in-house projects. Under this form of training, IT staff can prepare for classroom courses by studying material online. Then, after an introductory course, they can continue their studies online.
"Customised e-learning has become more affordable," said Mike Summers, marketing director of Thomson NETg. "Previously you would only do e-learning for a very large roll-out, but now it can be customised much more easily for specific business.
"The financial sector is attracted to e-learning because you are reducing staff downtime. They tend to hire a higher grade of people who are well motivated and take well to e-learning."
The most popular courses in the financial services sector include programming skills such as C#, Visual Basic, Linux and Sun skills, security, VoIP and Cisco technologies.
At the same time, the financial sector is moving away from pure technical training towards business and management training, including project management. Training in the project management qualification Prince II is gaining popularity.
Financial services companies are increasingly applying the ROI evaluations to training investments, said Thompson NETg. This includes looking at how much more efficient staff are after training and whether projects are completed more quickly.