Voices: Boyes

You better know more!

There is excellent training out there, provided by trainers who aren’t vendors, and don’t have the barely hidden agenda of wanting to sell you stuff.

By Walt Boyes, Editor in Chief

YOU KNOW IT, I know it. In story after story, we’ve talked about how critically important it is for process automation professionals to get out of the “instrumentation” or “automation” mindset. Last month, we showed you the oncoming train of changes you will have to master. But are you listening?

The ControlGlobal.com Web Poll we ran in August makes me think maybe not. Employers don’t often pay for training courses that enhance your marketability any more. The bean counters point out that people who get additional training often leave for better jobs and better pay, so companies have eliminated that perk. The more fools they, because they just wind up paying more to hire trained outside talent, instead of growing it from within and paying you enough to stay.

Since you mostly have to come up with the loot yourselves, we asked you to tell us how much you’d pay for a day’s worth of good automation training.

I am a little stunned at the answers.

Over half of you reported that you wouldn’t pay at all. Some of you (18%) used the excuse that you didn’t have time for training. You can use all your coming free time when you get laid off for not being current in your profession, then.

Others (33%) reported that they expect vendors to train them for free. Well, vendors have noticed that training and support could be a profit center, and they are starting to charge for training. That strategy won’t work either.

At least half of you have your heads in the sand. And don’t give me the “we can’t afford it ourselves,” wheeze either. According to our Salary Survey (Par for the Course, June 2005) the annual salary of an average control professional isn’t low. Automation professionals are well paid, on the whole. Even technicians and mechanics who work in automation are well paid.

There is excellent training out there, provided by trainers who aren’t vendors, and don’t have the barely hidden agenda of wanting to sell you stuff. One of the best suppliers of training is ISA, but ISA training isn’t free. A day’s worth of high quality training from ISA will set you back between $300 and $500 if you are a member; 41% of you reported that you’d pay that much.

But all of that 41% of you aren’t taking training courses, or ISA and the other third-party training companies would be overwhelmed.

Most third-party training organizations are in business to make money by training you for the challenges the twenty-first century will pose to the process automation profession. This is a good thing. People should get paid for what they do. But you also have to pay for what you get. It doesn’t appear to me that many of you want to.

Since most of you appear to be serious skinflints, maybe we ought to start lobbying ISA to make their training available at much lower cost to members. So, if you are an ISA member, you might get a day’s training for $50 instead of $500. ISA could make this an incredibly valuable member benefit, and use it to reverse the decade-long trend of fewer members each year. I think a lot more of you would fork over the membership fee if you got standards, training and such at vastly reduced prices.

If you think this is a good idea, tell ISA’s President Don Zee at president@isa.org, and then put your money where your mouths are.

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