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Boot Camp: learning is key to staff retention

Boot Camp: learning is key to staff retention

Studies show only 8 percent of IT employers rate IT graduates as “well-trained and ready-to-go”. Dell ME’s Mo Laher shares secrets on how to keep staff happy.

June 6, 2011 1:49 by

Finding new IT personnel is an expensive, time consuming and ultimately exhausting process for Middle East CIOs. As the number of people taking IT degrees falls worldwide, employers are questioning the relevant experience of the ones that do opt for a career in IT.

A recent IBM survey found only 8 percent of IT employers rate IT graduates as “well-trained and ready-to-go,” whilst 40 percent complained that IT hires are not sufficiently prepared to perform jobs within their companies.

It’s therefore no surprise that with rising IT budgets and a new expectation on technology to deliver greater commercial success across the region, Middle East employers are looking to ensure they have the best people to manage their systems. The most recent IDC Middle East CIO survey found that recruitment, retention and development were the biggest challenges for regional CIOs this year with 60 percent naming staffing as their top concern.

In such a highly competitive market as the Middle East, IT staff know that a better contract may be just round the corner and employers must find ways of retaining their most talented staff whilst developing the expertise of newer recruits.

In order to meet both these challenges, IT managers must ensure training is central to their internal development processes. Dell Education Services, for example, works with companies around the world and have seen how training can help organisations keep talented staff, reduce the cost of hiring new personnel, and create stable IT teams. With the rise in regional IT budgets, it is vital the Middle East has the learning infrastructure to help IT staff deliver the ROI that management will want to see.

The Middle East must be ready to embed staff learning as a core requirement of its IT strategy. In return employers will see their IT teams excel in a supportive environment where their career aspirations are matched and their skill sets developed, raising moral and reducing the upheaval and expense caused by high staff-turnover.

But training is not just an exercise in boosting morale. Measuring and delivering higher returns on IT investment was also among the most popular challenges facing Middle East CIOs, according to the IDC survey. With technologies like intelligent storage at the top of their wish list, CIOs are looking to drive improvements in productivity through modern IT infrastructure that offer not only near-limitless storage capacity but also intelligent analytical tools that could bring about a new era of informed business decision-making.

The problem for Middle East CIOs is implementing the latest storage technology is not like a minor software upgrade. It represents a major shift in how IT staff manage and maintain IT infrastructure and requires a level of expertise beyond plug and play.

To deliver the productivity gains on offer, specialist knowledge is required to ensure this type of technology is implemented effectively. Key to this is suitable and locally-relevant training that helps IT staff understand how to incorporate the cloud and intelligent storage into their unique corporate technology environment.

Staff training tackles the major issues facing Middle East CIOs at a time when the pressure is on to deliver clear business benefit in return for increased investment in IT infrastructure. While the retention of valuable personnel and the training of inexperienced graduates are ongoing issues for Middle East CIOs, major overhauls of the business IT to more flexible and efficient virtual systems is an increasing priority – but one that demands specific expertise within those who will manage it. If the Middle East is to see full benefit from its new investment in IT and an end to the recruitment merry go round which may have hindered the development of its IT infrastructure, then happy IT departments, valued through strategic, empowering training programmes must be at the centre of CIO’s plans.

Mo Laher is the Head of Services for Dell Middle East


As part of this mission and in response to significant customer demand, Dell, last month opened its first Middle East training centre in the heart of Dubai. The centre is the product of years of engagement with our Middle East customers across sectors as diverse as oil and gas, large enterprise, manufacturing and education, all of whom have recognised that staff development lies at the heart of intelligent IT application. As well as being the only place to get official training on Dell products, the centre employs local trainers in order to meet increasing industry need for education relevant to the region’s business landscape.

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