How many times have you sent someone to a week-long, $2500 course on (insert buzzword-worthy technology here), only to ask them about it a few weeks later and find out they don’t remember a damn thing? There have been a number of studies done over the years which prove conclusively that the classroom-based, lecture-style of education is woefully ineffective. IT education companies have improved this somewhat by bringing in lab equipment for students to configure, but is one week really long enough to become an expert?
I think the Europeans got it right when it comes to trade education. If you wanted to be a cabinetmaker, you had to apprentice under a master cabinetmaker for a period of time, assisting him with his work and allowing him to critique your work to improve it over time. He would show you, you would do it, he would tell you what you did right and wrong and then you’d do it again. Iteration. Do it again and again until you’ve mastered it, which any athlete, musician, or Starbucks barista will tell you is the only way to master something. Why should we think IT is different from other fields in this regard?
Do you have expert sysadmins, network engineers, or other technical staff? When your team’s workload increases, rather than spending massive amounts of time and money looking for another top performer why not take a chance on that kid right out of DeVry who is still hungry to learn? Pair him up with the expert and he’ll learn more in a month than he would in a year otherwise. Soon you’ll have a guy who performs at 80% of a master, and you’re paying him peanuts.