Staying ahead in IT means that you always need to be learning. There’s a lot you can learn by reading freely available resources like blogs and white papers. But other resources for gaining IT knowledge and skills -- such as college programs, IT training courses, and conferences like Interop -- cost money.
What if you could convince your boss to have your company pay for IT education and training? Sound hopeless? It’s not. You can make it happen if you follow these steps.
1. Develop a plan
Figure out what you want to learn. Listing all of the things you could learn and train on isn’t enough. Determine a specific topic or path you’d like to start with, establish the top three areas you’d like to master, and finally, include the skills you’ll acquire as result and how they will specifically benefit your company.
2. Investigate IT education options
Now that you’re focusing on specific skills, check out the available IT training and educational programs. Make a list of the vendors, organizations or colleges that offer the training you need. Look for ways to demo the services to familiarize yourself with their features. Many IT training vendors offer free trials.
3. Highlight how education benefits your employer
When you finally meet with your boss, don’t lead with the cost. Start broad: Sell the benefit of the training, academic program, or conference before you pitch the product. Productivity is a great entry point because increased productivity directly affects the bottom line for any business. Here are a few ways to illustrate how IT education and training boosts productivity:
- Expanding your skill sets. If you are able to take on new tasks, then your company doesn’t have hire someone with those skills
- Teach it forward. Offer to teach what you learn to other employees, to make it an even bigger bang for the company’s buck.
- Highlight a specific problem. Try to show how training solves a problem affecting your company, and outline potential risks of not being up to date in the technology area.
The more you can share with your boss about the benefits of training, the more likely your request gets approved.
4. Provide options
Now that you’ve sold the idea of education, provide a few options. Explain each option in terms of what it provides and its costs. You’ll need to show how what you’re asking for is the right fit for you and your company, both in terms of what it provides and its cost. Highlight features that could benefit you such as practice exams. Make sure to also focus on the specific skill sets from the planning stage. If you are trying to secure training for your entire team, explore options such as a learning management system (LMS).
5. Create shared goals
Get your boss to think of training as an investment. Set goals and targets with your boss, and make sure they are S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) ones. Return on investment (ROI) is key to most organizations. So, in this case, ROI is what you’ll accomplish through training.
6. Put it in writing
If you and your employer agree on an education plan, make sure you follow up with an email outlining the agreement. This helps ensure both of you are on the same page about and who will cover the expense. Include a summary about the need for education and training, how it can benefit the company, a proposed solution, and how you will use it-- just in case your organization requires something more official.
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