Training and skills development for IT personnel are being overlooked in many Canadian organizations, according to an IT industry-wide survey by Athabasca University. The survey also found there’s been a deterioration in the confidence IT workers have in senior management’s IT competency (see Jan.

31 CC, p. 6).

Dr. Peter Carr, executive director for the university’s Centre for Innovative Management in Edmonton, says the results of the 2003 Canadian IT Issues Study illustrate a growing frustration within high-tech’s rank and file towards upper management.

Senior management is “”not focused on IT as much as they need to be,”” Carr says. “”There’s been a significant reduction in senior management’s interest in IT since Y2K . . . technology has become a big part of what organizations do and senior management has not kept up with that.””

The study also considered the business impacts of IT-related change and its association with perceived senior management competency. Clear evidence emerged, Carr says, showing weak IT-related change management and high levels of stress were closely linked.

“”We need to pay more attention to the people side of things,”” says Carr. “”There’s a direct relationship between business performance, stress and IT change. Organizations that are better at managing the people side of the equation get better business performance and a stronger return on their IT investments.””

The survey, conducted online in November 2002, polled an estimated 2,652 IT professionals on everything from training issues and IT security to job satisfaction and equity.

Carr says the study did not consider the average amount of money spent on training nationwide, but he adds 38 per cent of the respondents believe their respective IT training budgets are inadequate, compared to 35 per cent who said they have adequate funding for training.

Moreover, he says almost half of those polled said their organization did not allocate sufficient time for training, compared to 27 per cent who said their companies do provide that resource.

Regionally, Western Canada perceives its IT-related training expenditure to be more adequate than other provinces. Atlantic Canada and Ontario — outside of Toronto — are least positive, the report found.

“”In Atlantic Canada, they may be more negative about technology but that might indicate a bigger economic shift for managers and employees to make,”” Carr says.

According to Gaylen Duncan, president and CEO of the Information Technology Association of Canada in Mississauga, Ont., respondents who stated their organizations require more technical training confirms what his association has been espousing all along.

“”I would suggest to Athabasca to consider finding out the number of years the respondents to this poll have been in the workforce . . . in our experience, people’s (training) expectations narrow after four years.””

He says companies fail to consider their IT staffs want their kn

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