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Kirstin Donoghue

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Getting more value from technology training


Self-taught skills can only go so far, says Kirstin Donoghue of Connect.

The ultimate aim of any training scheme must be to ensure that a business optimises performance and, therefore, reduces overheads and increases revenue. However, it’s surprising how many companies actually waste their training budget – or at least postpone return on investment - by badly-targeted programmes. And many fail to recognise the opportunities that learning new ideas, techniques and skills can bring to add to the bottom line.

For example, there’s a tendency to presume that engineers can pick up new computer programs and other technologies by teaching themselves and learning on the job. They tend to be good at it anyway so why not leave them to it?

Yet, so the thinking goes, they do need training in management, communication and other business skills. Of course, training in these non-technical skills has great value. But understanding technology is no longer just about knowing where to click, rather how to accelerate workflow and find innovative solutions to problems of cost, timing and environmental strategies.

In some disciplines the pace of change has been so rapid that even professionals in their thirties and forties are behind the curve. There’s even a gap between what is being taught in higher education and what is required in the professional environment – especially in fast-evolving sectors such as architecture, engineering and construction.

As a result, those who miss out on learning the latest methods and software versions – and about best practice surrounding them – are in danger of holding back their businesses.

So here are a few guidelines to get the best value from technical training:

  • Professional, authorised training should be seen as a key component to your business strategy rather than something that happens randomly. Recognise that DIY learning is very different from this professional training. Anyone can pick up tips from the internet but it is simply not the same standard of learning.

  • A regular IT training and certification programme will ensure design teams keep abreast of the latest upgrades and new versions. However, the challenge for the trainers themselves is that everyone needs help in different areas. The best courses these days are, therefore, those that benchmark skills and focus on the areas needing most attention for each individual.

  • Line managers must be persistent in following through on training initiatives so that employees can make use of their learning on the job. Make sure employees are encouraged to implement what they have learnt.

  • Certification helps prove that teams have a high standard of skills, providing validation of the right to be considered for projects and contracts. A professionally trained team will always increase the ability to win tenders.

  • Some businesses are taking this one step further, using training as an added revenue stream by offering accredited courses to graduates and professionals who have taken a career break either voluntarily or otherwise. For example Sprunt Media was set up by architects’ firm and accredited Autodesk training centre Sprunt, to help develop design skills that are both practical and tailored to the job market. In addition to classroom courses ranging from three to five days, it has designed one to three month work and project experience courses to give attendees an opportunity to develop their skills within a real-life architects’ practice.

The assumption that if someone is already using a technology day-to-day, they are using it to its full advantage is a dangerous one. These days technology is evolving at such a rapid pace it’s essential to ensure that skills are continually updated and upgraded.

Training people to use technology in the best way possible and then use it proactively and innovatively can pay dividends – and ultimately help to put a business head and shoulders above its competitors.

Kirstin Donoghue is the Autodesk Program Manager, EU at Connect – a service from KnowledgePoint


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