Europe is currently suffering from an IT skills crisis which means that over one million job positions in the IT industry are lying dormant, waiting to be filled. Money is waiting to be made, but people seem reluctant to enter an industry where lucrative sums of money could be made.

Employers over the past few years have struggled to survive on dwindling budgets. As a result, the focus on staff training has been swept to one side and employees have remained stagnant in their development. Employers have found it less time consuming and more economical to hire professional IT staff rather than train staff on a bank balance which really does not need another battering.

Whilst companies are doing everything possible to streamline their outgoings, IT training should become a priority which is placed at the top of the agenda rather than at the bottom. Although, many live under the illusion that retraining will mean a slow and costly return, it is actually more cost effective in the long run to train existing staff. This makes them readily available to slip into roles which require more responsibility as they arise.

Hindsight has proven that it is far easier to train staff before positions become available rather than to 'panic train' when an unexpected skill needs be acquired.

One way of keeping a healthy balance between looking after the pennies and equipping your staff with the knowledge that they need to keep your business competitive is to opt for web based training company. This gives staff the flexibility to learn at their own pace and in an environment which is free from the pressures of work. It is estimated that over 10% of organisations use an e-learning training provider to meet their company's needs.

Training Needs Analysis:

A TNA (Training Needs Analysis) will help to pinpoint the areas of business that require the injection of new skills. Use it as a handy tool for collating information which will reveal those areas where there is room for improvement. This information can be gathered in a number of ways including: observations, surveys, feedback from customers, meetings or inspection.

Use a TNA to identify those weaknesses in staff performance and to ensure that money invested in a training provider will return positive results for you.

Use a TNA to your advantage by:

A. Focusing on your business goals and ensuring that your staff have the necessary skills to fulfil them.

B. Detecting if product changes or a shift in business procedures will require employees to undertake additional training.

C. Considering the best staff to train and finding the most effective way for them to improve their skills without causing too much disruption to the rest of the office.

D. Finding an appropriate way for employees to accept and welcome training.

E. Undertaking research to find a training provider which will suit the needs of the company.

Employees work with your product or service every single day so they are the ones who can provide valuable input with regard to skill gaps. Listen to your team as they are the ones who can identify areas where there is room for improvement and highlight those areas where training and skill development should be addressed.

From April 6th 2010, employees who were part of companies with more than 250 staff in England, Wales and Scotland were given the right to ask for time to train. This meant that they could request a set amount of time to complete any training courses whether accredited or unaccredited which they felt would make a significant improvement to the way that they performed in the workplace. From April 2011, the right to train will be available to all business employees; this will even include managers at senior level. If you are the owner and manager of your company, you may need to seek additional training in order to develop technical and entrepreneurial skills as the company expands.

It is essential that the right courses fit the right people. Research has shown that in some instances companies have trained 4000 staff in a bid to improve performance but upon completion, only 40 employees have actually gained any benefit from their studies.

A TNA will take into account the systems that an employee uses on an everyday basis. It will also involve the examination of how software is used and how long it takes for each task to be completed. With this information at hand, it will be easy to pinpoint the additional tools needed for self-improvement.

When skills levels have been assessed, it is necessary to find the right staff for training. A good training provider will help sift the wheat from the chaff via a process of skill based tests and psychological questions to record an individual's current ability level and the extent of enthusiasm and determination he/she has to successfully complete a training program.

Whilst e-learning is a popular way to train staff, blended learning is also an effective learning tool which combines both face to face and online learning as one.

Some companies and employees benefit from a self-paced training program which allows courses to be completed at times which fit comfortably into their schedule. This means that progress is controlled by the candidate and the pressure to learn is reduced. This form of learning can only progress once the student has successfully completed each module.

The United Kingdom needs to fill its empty trail of IT positions by exploring the many ways that a training company can be used as a cost-effective and affordable way to increase company performance.