Offsite Classroom Training Best

Managers prefer to learn away from the workplace; hands-on training also popular.

Offsite classroom training is the most effective form of IT teaching when it comes to retaining learned material. Classroom training outside the office is also the most preferred learning method among managers, who like their training at a traditional speed in a place separate from the workplace.

These findings lead a recent study of U.S. tech professionals, including full-time, part-time, self-employed and unemployed workers. The summer 2002 survey asked 643 techies—from PC technicians to IT vice presidents—for their tech training opinions and preferences.

While 41 percent of tech managers sing the effective praises of such offsite training, hands-on, on-the-job training from peers is the next most popular learning method (26 percent). A hodgepodge of training alternatives finishes off the votes for effectiveness.

Concerning preferences, the second largest contingency of managers opts for self-paced, individual Web-based training, but on-the-job instruction from peers has proven to be more effective from a learning perspective, the IT managers say.

"Because most of my training was internal," says an unemployed application development manager from Washington, D.C., "there were no externally recognized certificates provided. So I will need to retake courses in order to get a certificate. In my job search, certificates are becoming increasingly required for proof of knowledge."

A networking systems manager from New England is more blunt about training effectiveness: "Need certifications to prove qualifications."

Tech managers say training accessibility—including facility location, instructor access and available times—is the most influential factor to them when deciding what training product(s) to purchase. The second most convincing factor for managers is a positive experience by peer(s) with the product or service.

Surprisingly, with so many unemployed technical professionals and a nationwide tendency to conserve spending, a significant price discount on training is only third on managers' priority list.

For the most part, tech managers and executives share similar views on training with those working for them. However, popularity and industry recognition of a product or service is the second most influential factor—behind accessibility—for respondents when considering which course to take; the factor places a distant fourth priority on managers' lists, according to the survey.

More than 72 percent of IT managers have had formal IT training in the last three years, while 78 percent of hands-on tech professionals have had such training.

The motivation for training among tech managers and executives is more habit than external demand: 36 percent of managers say they train because they consider it to be just part of their career; 26 percent undergo training because they "enjoy learning new skills." For technical professionals overall, training because they like learning is No. 1. Less than one percent of respondents claim they take training to make their jobs easier.

CareerStats question/answer chart

About the Author

Nick Doty is editorial director of, an online career and training center for technology professionals based in Minneapolis.