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Sixty percent of IT workers are looking for new jobs, and only 20 percent of them want a position with their current employers, according to a survey by trade association CompTIA.

Workers get little guidance or support from their employers on training and education, the survey found. Eighty-five percent say they make their own decisions on what IT training they should pursue based on career plans, not on requirements by their current employers, according to the survey of 462 IT professionals.

A mere 8 percent of polled workers said their training decisions are based on their employer’s requirements or recommendations.

These are troubling results for IT employers, which have historically grappled with the fine balance of providing the necessary skills training without giving up too much productivity when workers are in the classroom.

For VARs and integrators, training can be expensive, which coupled with typically tight resources, acts as a deterrent. Many vendors subsidize training at channel companies because they recognize they stand to benefit by channel technicians well-versed on their technology, but the survey appears to indicate that a bigger investment is necessary.

Employers need to become more aggressive in setting training priorities for workers, or they are shooting themselves in the foot, said Neill Hopkins, vice president of skills development at CompTIA, of Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.

"The cost of recruiting, hiring and training new tech workers due to high staff turnover is significantly higher than an investment in ongoing training for employees already on the payroll," he said.

It is clear from the survey results, Hopkins added, that IT professionals want to advance their skill levels so they can be more effective.

The survey found that only 20.5 percent of tech workers get paid time away from work to take classes. More than 88 percent of the workers polled said they pay for all or some or their training.

An IT worker identifying himself as "Cliff" wrote on a forum of the online IT community that he ended up being responsible for managing an Active Directory network that he knows nothing about. The person assigned to train him left the company, and the worker essentially had to train himself.

"I’m getting the distinct sense that training is something I’m expected to take care of, on my own time. Is this the de facto standard within IT, and for all jobs within IT? " he wrote.

Employees surveyed by CompTIA said they spent an average of about $2,200 on training and education in the past year and expect to spend even more in the next 12 months.

The survey also found that IT workers are spending about 11 hours a week to learn new skills and educate themselves on new technologies.

Employee training is best handled as a responsibility shared by employee and employer, said Scott Goemmel, partner at solution provider PMV Technologies, of Troy, Mich., and president of the VentureTech Network, a group of VARs and integrators that do business with distributor Ingram Micro.

"Our people represent our most important asset," said Goemmel. "We work hard to assist our employees in defining educational paths that match our needs in servicing customers and those of each individual employee. However, it is also important for each employee to take an active role in ensuring that they possess the skills necessary to continuously compete up the value chain."

Andy Goodman, owner of the one-man IT consulting shop Downhome Computers, Kernersville, N.C., said the lack of training support from employers is why so many IT professionals have struck out on their own and joined so-called IP pro groups, which allow them to band together to discuss training options and keep their skills current.

"These people are not just looking out for jobs, they are looking to have more control over their own destiny," Goodman said. "Individuals who were previously happy to work at an employee level are tired of being pushed aside, made to pay for training and treated like entry-level employees, so they are going out on their own."

CompTIA encourages employers to take advantage of its Tech Career Compass tool, accessible at, to help provide workers with job guidance. Employers can use the tool to measure the skills of their workers against industry levels to map out training strategies.