IT departments have been urged to take advantage of bargain basement prices for IT training courses as training firms struggle under the toughest economic conditions for nearly a decade.
IT training companies have been forced to cut prices on commodity training courses dramatically, following a slump in demand for IT training of 30% over the past three years – putting the IT training industry back to 1995 levels.
“Many people believe that, particularly in the more commodity-led part of the instructor market, pricing has been suicidal. Prices have been driven right down,” said David Pardo, director of IT Skills Research.
The bargains include Microsoft Certified System Engineer qualifications which are being offered at deep discounts by a large number of suppliers. The low prices do not necessarily mean the quality of training is any poorer, said Pardo.
Research by IT Skills Research reveals that spending on IT training has gone through a double slump, plummeting in the third quarter of 2001, recovering and then slumping again at the start of 2003.
Some large organisations have placed blanket bans on training, while many others have frozen head-counts, sharply reducing demand for entry-level IT training.
When they do have to spend money on training, businesses are, increasingly, demanding narrow tailored courses, rather than traditional off-the-shelf training packages which cover a broader range of material.
“Instinctively they think they can meet their short-term skills needs more cheaply and rapidly by commissioning a course that covers what they want and nothing more. In less pressured times they have been able to take a broader view,” said Pardo
He predicted that demand for IT training will increase this year as the employment market improves and companies seek to train staff in up-and-coming skills including .net, Windows 2003, and security and web-based techniques.
E-learning is also likely to take off, but only in the form of blended learning packages which combine e-learning classroom teaching.
“Our data shows that some learners have not been enthusiastic about e-learning," he said. "That’s because it has been positioned as a direct alternative to classroom training, and a fairly cheap and inferior one at that."