Should employers provide time for learning/training?

Sheldon Nunes on January 24, 2019

An excerpt from The Clean Coder by Robert C. Martin reads: Your career is your responsibility. It is not your employer's responsibility to make... [Read Full]
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I don't even consider applying to companies that don't offer leveling-up opportunities.

Companies should be investing in their developers individually and as a group. Learning together is a great way to build a team environment.

To me, it is a red flag if they don't offer this. It says they plan to use me up and spit me out.

 

I agree, it's not your employers responsability to give you the time and resources to learn. And you should be grateful if they do.

That being said, I also strongly agree with @chiangs . I wouldn't apply to a company that doesn't invest in their own people. We all know that when a company invest in their people everyone benefits. I wouldn't feel confortable in a company that refuses to do so.

 

These are actually two sides of the same coin : The best way to show an employer that you're grateful for what they provide is to work for them, and the best way to show an employer that they don't provide what you want is to quit and go work for one that does.

 

My workplace has some great learning initiatives. We have video lunch sessions, book club and lightning talks to help learn more about emerging technologies and new methodologies. We also have subscriptions to Pluralsight, FrontEndMasters, etc.

I think they are incredibly valuable and it is very convenient having all the developers actively teaching one another. The company has benefited a lot from these discussions and has improved the collaboration between teams. I think there should be time given to employees to learn and improve. However there should also be ownership on individuals to make sure that learning benefits the business/company and other learning done in own time.

 

That is awesome, I really wish we had lunch sessions and lightning talks. My company does offer assistance with education, but it's "you want to learn, find it and ask if we'll cover it". Which is better than most, but still hope we get to this point some day.

 

"Your career is your responsibility."

This is true, but it would be foolish for an employer to not care about their employees' ability to get the job done today (and all of the unknown jobs done tomorrow) effectively and efficiently. It's a recipe for declining outcomes, burnout, and turnover. Those cost money too. They're welcome to run their business that way―that's "their responsibility"―but it would make me nervous about the company.

 

Yes,Should provide. Would like to share one example For many years, one of the most celebrated innovation tools was the idea of “20% time.” The simple concept explicitly gave employees permission to work outside of the business-as-usual stuff that makes up most of their day jobs. It began at 3M and then attracted a number of high tech disciples. Perhaps the most noteworthy was Google, whose founders' IPO letter back in 2004 made explicit reference to the policy.

“We encourage our employees, in addition to their regular projects, to spend 20% of their time working on what they think will most benefit Google,” Sergey Brin and Larry Page wrote. “This empowers them to be more creative and innovative. Many of our significant advances have happened in this manner.”

Fraction Tech also encourage employees to spend 20% of their time working for learning

 

My current employer allows us to be "available" sometimes, meaning we are available to anyone who needs help and we learn/try new things during that time. It has helped me learn a lot of new things and many of them helped me in my daily projects.
We also have devs meetings every week to show what we have learned/discovered.
This means that our senior devs are still learning new technologies and ideas regularly.
It also means that as a junior I get to show the older devs some new things too!
Sharing knowledge is important. 🙂

 

I would appreciate that my employers give me learning time but to subsidise my training fees or give it for free.

I won't appreciate that since those might be mandatory that may be relevant for your employer context but it might not be useful for you to grow yourself professionally.

Unless you are talking about soft skills related courses it will be useful for both yourself and company context.

 

There is some truth to what Robert says. At the end of the day, you are better off taking ownership of your education. I don't have the expectation that employers will invest in resources such as conferences and books. But it's not an uncommon benefit and a nice one at that.

Even when not offered explicitly, going to a boss and saying "if we get this book we can figure out how to solve problem $X in days instead of weeks" is a valid pitch most managers would throw ~$50 at.

However, having said that, I do think employers are responsible for educating you on knowledge specific to their company. Learning at my job has been about 25% React/Redux, 75% understanding the quirks of how the logistics industry uses geographic data.

 

I agree in the sense of motivating you and making you do this. But I disagree in the sense that if the want their employees to be the best they can be, then they need to help. So If you have employees that go out of their way to gain further education, then the company should take advantage of it and give those employees the assistance they need.

$30 book, vs a $10,000 dollar mistake that could have been avoided due to lack of knowledge.... made up scenario but you get the point.

 

While I technically don't think a company owes this to their employees they really should -- otherwise they are going to lose that employee. It's a mutual relationship, investing in said relationship benefits both parties. Not providing that sort of learning/training sends a clear message to me that they don't care about me. If they don't care about me that means I'm out the door at the first sign of trouble. If I know that now you can guarantee I'll always have one eye on the job boards in case I see something better. And you can see this in the crazy turnover rates at tech companies. It's a bummer.

Also, tweak the language and tell me this doesn't sound totally insane.

Your life is your responsibility. It is not your parent's responsibility to make sure you grow up. It is not your parent's responsibility to raise you, or send you to school, or buy you books ... It is also not your parent's responsibility to give you the time you need to mature.

 

Your career is your responsibility.

100%

If my company wants to assist me (e.g. pay for books, conferences, etc), I'll accept it.

Remember, you're a business.

You are in the business of solving problems.
You solve those problems writing software.

 

I wouldn't trust an employer to provide for me, and I think that's more the meaning of the excerpt.

Like, my company had frequent Lunch n Learns / Brownbags, and now they haven't had one in the past ~6 months. They also had a Pluralsight license but suddenly switched to Udemy and are now realizing that the quality there is hit or miss but it's cheaper. I don't want my growth to be determined by the whims of the company. And even with those, they don't factor as work time. It's things available for use when your butt isn't in the seat.

Other professions that are built around constant certifications have been handling study time at work great. If you're an actuary, you'd never consider working somewhere that doesn't give a solid chunk of study time daily/weekly. I think the difference with tech is there's no measurable way to say you're using that time wisely, so they don't offer it. Lurking here helps me personally be a well-rounded engineer, but there's no metric for that, so do it "off the clock". And there are few certifications I could get to show off I'm using this time for the behalf of my company.

I'm going to continue to maintain my Packt and Tech Ladies subscriptions on my own so I can keep growing as a person. While it'd be nice if my employer would help with costs or time, I don't want to rely on that. My growth is my own that they just happen to benefit from 40 hours a week.

 

I think they should, and my reasoning can be summed up in one word:

Kaizen (continuous improvement)

Business talk all the time about "remaining agile" and "responding to market trends"; the same could be applied to technology. The knowledge you have today won't solve the problems of tomorrow. Any business worth their salt would happily invest a couple hundred bucks and a few hours a week to level up their team. As long as what you're learning can be turned into value for the company, it's a slam dunk IMO.

 

"Your career is your responsibility."

Agree.

"It is not your employer's responsibility to make sure you are marketable."

Agree.

"It is not your employer's responsibility to train you, or send you to conferences, or buy you books ... It is also not your employer's responsibility to give you the time you need to learn."

Here it's getting a bit harder to agree. If you don't get time at work to learn, how are you going to produce anything of quality? It's in the companies best interest to improve the staff. The classic "what if they don't learn, and they stay?" applies.

BUT

The employer should not wait passively until somebody sends them to a workshop, makes them read a book and the like. They should always keep an eye out for knowledge-gaps and trends. They need to take care of themselves, and demand learning-time.

AND

One shouldn't expect the company to pay for non-job-related learning. (Like a Unity-Workshop for a DB-Admin, C#-Book for the iOS-Dev etc.)

"Some employers may provide that time ... they are doing you a favor, and you should be appropriately appreciative."

Agree.

The quote is right in the sense that you're ultimately responsible for your own development, especially if you don't have a mentor or seniors in your area.

Still it reeks a bit of a too employer-friendly mindset IMHO.

 

It's not their responsibility but I do believe from a market standpoint that you get what you pay for. If you run a company and have virtually no interest in cultivating your employees don't expect them to want to help you grow in kind. This may be an exaggeration on my part, but don't expect mercenaries to act like knights when you don't treat them as such. Any company that doesn't have opportunities for engineers or other high skills-based employees to grow will see a higher turnover rate than their competitors unless they pay a lot more. Funny enough, high paying companies invest a lot into their employee's growth.

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