More training? But what was this Master's degree for then?
November 7, 2011 11:17 AM   Subscribe

I have questions about the amount of training a professional should get, and how the training and the time spent on training is compensated.

First the general questions:

For a given profession, how much training does it require after any college degree requirements are met? What's the purpose of getting this training? Who pays for the training? Is the time the person gets trained paid for as well?

And my specific reason for asking to help understand some of the why's above:

My Engineering company has a yearly symposium where the employees make presentations about various things we've done and learned, with the intent of spreading that information to our peers. However, while the company encourages attendance, they only pay for 1/2 our time at this symposium, with the other half at our expense. The training itself is paid for, but our time is not. When discussing with my boss low attendance at one of the sessions, I brought this lack of pay as a reason people don't attend. His perspective was that engineers are responsible for being good engineers themselves, and should attend these sessions with or without pay to stay a good engineer. This was completely outside my own understanding of requirements, so I wanted to get a better feel for a) what other professions have to do to stay up to date and who pays for it, and what other engineers see as their responsibility to stay up to date and who pays for it.
posted by garlic to Education (10 answers total)
Training is an easy thing to cut out of your operational budget to make things look better from an accounting perspective. Ultimately, I find this strategy shortsighted, but it's common practice in my industry, which is not the same as yours.
posted by bfranklin at 11:21 AM on November 7, 2011

The answers to your questions are as follows:

1. There will always be further training required after college, due to trends and advances in any industry, whether it's engineering, hair cutting, public relations, or teaching. The further training will be required for as long as you are in the job.

2. The purpose of getting trained is to keep up with these advances and stay current with your customer/client/patient/student's expectations

3. Your employer should pay for some as it's in their best interest to have staff who are up on current trends in their line of work. You should also be willing to pay for some to make yourself more valuable, and because you are interested in you own day-to-day work.

4. My employer has been know to split the time/cost deal if he is not in a position to do both, ie he'll give someone a day off to attend something at their own expense, or he'll pay for someone to attend on a weekend, but they can't claim lieu time.

Also, there is no "normal practice" for this.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 11:36 AM on November 7, 2011

I'm currently studying for an economics midterm, so here's how I'm inclined to look at this: The additional training benefits the employer because it increases worker productivity, but it also might benefit individual workers who attend because they presumably learn something and in the long term are able to demand higher wages. If the employer pays for the whole ball of wax (full wages plus the cost of the conference itself) and you and all your coworkers go to the conference then everybody learns the same stuff, none of you gains a competitive advantage, and wages don't rise; the benefits go to the employer. If employees have to foot part of the bill and thus fewer employees attend, those who do attend will gain an advantage over those who don't. If it's going to cost you something to go then whether it's worth going depends on the value of what you'd learn; if it's a crap conference, don't go.

IANAEngineer so I don't know what's "normal." I'm skeptical that such norms exist across entire professions.
posted by jon1270 at 11:42 AM on November 7, 2011

From another econ perspective, the firm will be willing to pay for the conference if the information learned is 100% firm specific. If this is the case, they won't be worried about losing employees with whom they've just invested human capital. If the information or skills learned are 100% generalizable to other firms then the company won't want to pay for the training as it would just enable the workers to go seek out new jobs for higher wages thanks to their improved human capital. Firms will pay for general training if contracts are make so that the employees have to work for a certain number of years to allow for the company to recoup its investment.

I imagine that some of the information learned at these symposiums is relevant to your firm right now and some of it would apply to engineering more generally. Thus your company is willing to pay for part of the training. So they seem to be acting rationally. That's what basic labour economics would say anyway.
posted by Homo economicus at 11:58 AM on November 7, 2011

However, while the company encourages attendance, they only pay for 1/2 our time at this symposium, with the other half at our expense.

Can you clarify this? Are you saying they pay you half-rate pay for the days you attend?
posted by DarlingBri at 2:00 PM on November 7, 2011

That's correct, DarlingBri. It's held at work during the work week at the various conference rooms around the building. There's 3-4 1.5 hour sessions a day, and if you go to 3 hours worth of the symposium, the company will pay for 1.5 of those hours.
posted by garlic at 3:51 PM on November 7, 2011

Oh, heavens, no. That is just weird.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 5:46 PM on November 7, 2011

I know that physicians in Canada are required to complete a certain number of hours of continuing medical education (CME) per year, and since many are paid only when they bill (and they can only bill for seeing a patient), I'm guessing they don't get paid to attend their CME hours. And CME is a requirement for maintaining a medical license.

Accountants here have to do a certain number of hours of a similar sort as well to maintain their designation. So I'm not sure that this practice is all that rare.
posted by lulu68 at 7:44 PM on November 7, 2011

Members of a profession are traditionally supposed to have an overriding duty to society above and beyond either their client or their employer.

From this perspective a member of a profession should take it upon themselves to retrain as is necessary to continue to provide the level of service expected of a member of that profession.

In NSW a lawyer must complete one unit of education each year in each of the following three fields:

* ethics and professional responsibility
* practice management and business skills, and
* professional skills

(Rule 42.1.6 of the Revised Professional Conduct and Practice Rules)

Most larger law firms provide this at no cost to their staff, however staff are generally expected to do this in their own time (generally after hours).

Smaller firms may offer time off and/or contribute to costs ... or they may not.

Sole practitioners must do this on their own account.

Lawyers who do not complete these requirements may loose their status as a lawyer.

Thus lawyers have little choice but to ensure this is completed. The willingness of their employer to pay or provide time off might be something considered when considering alternative employment, but this is a perk, not a serious negotiation point.
posted by jannw at 4:26 AM on November 8, 2011

For what little it's worth to you, my employer will pick up the tab for both the cost of a training and my time (as in, it's just counted as regular work hours) if I can make the case for why a training is necessary. And when we have big yearly workshops/trainings, everyone is on the clock. I'd find it very odd to be given half-pay for a work function, during a work day, held at the work site. But I also wouldn't find it odd to be given some kind of half-pay or half-support for trainings held off-site or outside of the regular work day.
posted by Forktine at 4:52 AM on November 8, 2011

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