Human capital: Please put down your pencils

Companies serious about attracting and keeping talented technology professionals must offer support for employees' growth and development, say human resources and staffing professionals. That is often accomplished by providing continuing education and training to new hires who thirst for such opportunities.

Computer Sciences Corp., for example, offers more than 3,700 training programs internally and provides financial support to employees working on external degree programs, said Jim Gattuso, director of staffing and recruitment at CSC's North American Public Sector division. The continuing education programs include $7,500 a year for employees earning undergraduate degrees and $15,000 a year for graduate studies.

He said such programs are especially important because employees are less eager to move from company to company than they have been in recent years. Employers that offer ample opportunities for continuing development make it easier for workers to stay put.

"People are looking for more stability," Gattuso said. "They're looking to be with an employer they can feel great about working for, where they can grow and develop."

Research supports Gattuso's impression, said David Meissner, vice president of solution services at Thomson Prometric, a testing firm based in Baltimore. Some believe that offering employees the opportunity to become certified in their fields makes it more likely they will leave, but "all of the studies have shown the opposite," he said.

"Some employees and employers focus entirely on the training component," he said. "They fear that if they take the next step and offer the certification exam, the employee is now more marketable and more able to leave. But I believe that part of what makes an [information technology] professional tick is the idea of constantly working on new technologies. Certification testing is one way to assess who is the cream of the crop and should be working on new technologies."

About the Author

Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.

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