Career Move: Should I pay for software training?

I have worked in IT since the 1970s, installing and supporting mainframes, PCs and networks, generally in a contract position....

I have worked in IT since the 1970s, installing and supporting mainframes, PCs and networks, generally in a contract position. Rates of pay and job opportunities have reduced dramatically in the past six months and I now find myself, at the age of 50, unsure of which direction to go. Do you regard spending a few thousand pounds to train in a software discipline (C++ or perhaps Java) prudent? Although I have more interest in doing software than yet more training in networks, I am worried that my lack of hands-on software work will make it impossible for me to find work.

The change would be a risky move
Bearing in mind the current market conditions, I would not advise such a radical change in direction at this point. While it is clear that demand for C++ and Java is currently still high, it is also the case that competition for these roles is fierce.

A safer option would be to continue working within your area of expertise and undertake software training in conjunction with your contract (this could be a mix of online and classroom education). If, on the other hand, you are determined that this is the career change for you, it is important that you do your homework. There are many companies out there who will charge thousands of pounds to provide you with qualifications which are of questionable value. You need to find a reputable company that will provide relevant qualifications and, ideally, also provide some on-the-job training.

Remember, this is all about building your own credibility in the market and your key advantage is that you have considerable experience within the industry. So be sure to make use of all the contacts you have made over the years.

Solution by Ann Collins, Elan Computing

The panel:
MSB International, Best International, BCS, Computer Futures, Computer People, Elan, Reed Computing, Netheads Consulting, Zarak Technology, E-Skills UK

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