The Importance of Training & Development

It’s a known fact that the growth rate for data transfer across the globe is accelerating at an enormous rate year-on-year. According to Intel; today it would take you five years to view all video that is crossing IP networks each second. Facts like this demonstrate why the demand for data centres is so great and why this growing trend is set to continue.

So, the industry is booming but what are the challenges this presents?

The cost of getting it wrong
The latest data centre outage figures (a period of data centre downtime) show an increase of 41% in cost from 2010 to an incredible $7,900 per minute. This, coupled with the fact that 91% of data centres have experienced an unplanned outage in the past 24 months not only highlights the astronomical cost of an outage, but also suggests that the chances of it actually happening are surprisingly high. Added to this, the fact that one of the main causes a of data centre outage is human error, one wonders why more data centre managers do not follow a plan for on-going professional development with their staff, especially considering that the cost of just one minute of a data centre outage could pay to train, qualify and professionally certify two data centre technicians.

Reliance on people – the real assets
Every business claims that its people are their most important asset and the primary driver of success. But, how many organisations genuinely have a structured investment program in training for mission-critical people? People are the very lifeblood of any business and organisations need to understand this in order to continue to thrive.

Technical knowledge & skills
With the growth of the industry, the on-going reliance on people, and the need to reduce outages, there are many opportunities for talented and trained people within the industry. Working within a data centre environment is highly technical and it is unfortunate that we are already experiencing a skills shortage yet 41% of data centres are recruiting, so the opportunities are there for the right people.

What’s the solution?
There is a need to entice new talent into the data centre industry and provide baseline data centre training and education that could be enhanced as careers progress. Recently the Data Centre Alliance and some of the industry’s most recognised data centre businesses teamed up with leading data centre training provider, CNet Training, the University of East London and Leeds University to deliver a data centre bootcamp to potential new entrants into the industry. This introduction proved a success and certainly highlighted the potential career prospects to the delegates.

The benefits of enticing new entrants to the industry are clear; not only would it help to plug the skills gap, it would also address the potential issue of ageing amongst current data centre professionals.

The business case to invest in on-going professional training and education for existing staff is also strong. By harnessing current stills and embarking on a structured approach to career development, in the form of new learning and skills development enhanced by professional qualifications and industry recognised certification, will allow data centre managers to be confident that the data centre is in the right technical hands, they will also benefit from:

- Staff retention and loyalty
- Enhanced employee satisfaction and increased morale
- Increased employee contributions due to the added confidence and new skills after training
- Training return on investment

The organisation would also prove to be a more attractive employer to potential new staff. This competitive edge could allow the organisation to be confident and therefore help attract the highest calibre talent.

However, when comparing the attitude and commitment to on-going training and education throughout the UK to that of the US for example, it does differ greatly. In the US there seems to be a culture of life-long learning, where it is the norm to continue to enhance knowledge, skills and professional certifications. By contrast, within the UK the request for training is often seen as a weakness, whereby instead of seeing the positivity of the outcomes of new learning, it is looked upon negatively as having to fill the gap when skills and knowledge are lacking. Within fast-moving technical environments, such as the data centre industry, there is a need for the UK to adopt a new attitude towards training. Only then will professionals have the opportunity to learn how to embrace the new and emerging technologies and this will, in turn, benefit the organisation.

Training Outcomes
Choosing the right training and education program doesn’t need to be a laborious process; however there is a need to understand the fundamental differences between training outcomes and the benefits associated with each.

Certification proves that an individual has completed the learning process and achieved the stated objectives. It can provide post nominal letters to use after the delegates name. Certifications are unique; they show a commitment to life-long learning as re-certification is required approximately three years after certification.

Benefits for the employer
- Employees’ skills are enhanced every three years with new learning to bring staff’s knowledge up-to-date with the very latest changes and technical developments within the industry
- Ensures employees are also aware of the latest working standards and codes of practice
- Provides certification for a further three years after each re-certification
- Allows training budgets to be forecast accurately on an on-going basis

Benefits for the employee
- Provides certification for three years
- Keeps knowledge and skills in line with industry requirements
- Provides a post nominal title i.e. Martin Smith CDCDP®
- Provides on-going access to the program material, enabling delegates to use this as reference to re-visit whenever required

Qualifications are valid for life, they do not need renewing. They differ from certifications in that they are controlled by international educational bodies and only approved centres can offer qualifications. They are referenced to the International Qualification Framework and therefore recognisable across the world.

Benefits for the employer
- Ensures your employees are trained to a specified level at that time, however does not have the ability to keep knowledge and skills in-line with the industry on an on-going basis
- Usually incurs just a one-off fee
- You can be sure the training provider is a professional company as the criteria to become an approved training centre is quite a vigorous process

Benefits for the employee
- Provides official recognition for your knowledge and skills at the time of taking the examination
- Qualifications are recognised globally by comparing the educational levels

Usually consist of a short period of training which are certified to prove competency in relation to a certain subject. Many vendors have their own training programs, these prove delegates understand their products and are proven to be competent users. Again accreditations often have a timescale of 2-3 years associated with them before renewal is required.

Industry Quality Standards
Considering the reliance we all have on IP communications in the workplace and at home, it is hard to believe that there are no official industry standards to adhere to in order to help achieve continuity of service and supply. Industry leaders in professional network infrastructure and data centre training, CNet Training refer to network communications as the fourth utility and have recently launched a new industry education standard for those entering the network cabling industry, the Certified Network Cable Installer (CNCI®) program provides certification for those entering the industry, ensuring they are trained to a specified and consistent level. This follows on to a full and structured network infrastructure and data centre education framework which, when followed, could provide confidence throughout the industry and help deliver business continuity, ensure quality of service and help reduce the rate of outages and associated expense that is currently incurred as a result of human error within a data centre.

Sources – Gartner, Emerson, Ponemon Institute

Posted: 19/11/2015 4:43 PM