Software Development Training Survey: Between Ugly and Good

Our question was: How many weeks of training have you followed on average the past 3 years??

None 23%
Less than one week 19%
One week (5 days) 15%
One to two weeks 18%
Two weeks to one month 8%
More than one month 17%

Number of participants: 258
Ending date: April 2009

Recent trends in software development, like the transition to agile or the new technologies used for web development (ajax, rails, flex, etc.), should have been a factor that influenced positively the amount of training for software developers. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics “Computer software engineers must continually strive to acquire new skills in conjunction with the rapid changes that occur in computer technology.” In addition, the demand for software developers was rather high and the economy was mainly healthy in the past three years. Beyond salary, training is considered as the most important retention strategy. It is therefore surprising that close to 25% of the participants didn’t have a single day of training in the past three years. It is also true that 60% of the readers of Methods & Tools work for software consulting companies. Unfortunately, there are a lot of these companies that treat employees only as “cost centers” that could be replaced easily. Therefore their main objective is to minimize costs and they don’t try to have an improvement and retention strategy.

To be fair, it is also true that the attitude of software developer towards training is not always enthusiastic. Unless the training is directly related to their current activity, people will often hesitate between the interest of learning something new and the negative side effects of non-relevant training. You will forget quickly most of what you learn if you don’t use it and you get behind in your current work schedule. You can therefore not put the blame entirely on companies for the lack of software development training.

The fact that also 25% of the participants received two weeks or more of training per years shows that organizations that think training is good take the topic seriously. In a MySQL poll, close to 5% of the participants had a training budget above $5000 per year. For instance, a two day ScrumMaster class given by experts like Mike Cohn and Ken Schwaber costs $1300. With this kind of price, your budget could be consumed rapidly, even if the price of training should always be put in perspective with the potentials benefits that it will bring. A five days training course to learn Java as a new programming language with Sun is priced at $2000.

Bureau of Labor Statistics

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