SQLAuthority News – Technology and Online Learning – Personal Technology Tip

This is the fourth post in my series about Personal Technology Tips and Tricks, and I knew exactly what I wanted to write about.  But at first I was conflicted.   Is online learning really a personal tip?  Is it really a trick that no one knows?  However, I have decided to stick with my original idea because online learning is everywhere.  It’s a trick that we can’t – and shouldn’t – overlook.  Here are ten of my ideas about how we should be taking advantage of online learning.


1) Get ahead in the work place.  We all know that a good way to become better at your job, and to become more competitive for promotions and raises.  Many people overlook online learning as a way to get job training, though, thinking it is a path for people still seeking their high school or college diplomas.  But take a look at what companies like Pluralsight offer, and you might be pleasantly surprised.

2) Flexibility.  Some of us remember the heady days of college with nostalgia, others remember it with loathing.  A lot of bad memories come from remembering the strict scheduling and deadlines of college.  But with online learning, the classes fit into your free time – you don’t have to schedule your life around classes.  Even better, there are usually no homework or test deadlines, only one final deadline where all work must be completed.  This allows students to work at their own pace – my next point.

3) Learn at your own pace.  One thing traditional classes suffer from is that they are highly structured.  If you work more quickly than the rest of the class, or especially if you work more slowly, traditional classes do not work for you.  Online courses let you move as quickly or as slowly as you find necessary.

4) Fill gaps in your knowledge.  I’m sure I am not the only one who has thought to myself “I would love to take a course on X, Y, or Z.”  The problem is that it can be very hard to find the perfect class that teaches exactly what you’re interested in, at a time and a price that’s right.  But online courses are far easier to tailor exactly to your tastes.

5) Fits into your schedule.  Even harder to find than a class you’re interested in is one that fits into your schedule.  If you hold down a job – even a part time job – you know it’s next to impossible to find class times that work for you.  Online classes can be taken anytime, anywhere.  On your lunch break, in your car, or in your pajamas at the end of the day.


6) Student centered.  Online learning has to stay competitive.  There are hundreds, even thousands of options for students, and every provider has to find a way to lure in students and provide them with a good education.  The best kind of online classes know that they need to provide great classes, flexible scheduling, and high quality to attract students – and the student benefit from this kind of attention.

7) You can save money.  The average cost for a college diploma in the US is over $20,000.  I don’t know about you, but that is not the kind of money I just have lying around for a rainy day.  Sometimes I think I’d love to go back to school, but not for that price tag.  Online courses are much, much more affordable.  And even better, you can pick and choose what courses you’d like to take, and avoid all the “electives” in college.

8) Get access to the best minds in the business.  One of the perks of being the best in your field is that you are one person who knows the most about something.  If students are lucky, you will choose to share that knowledge with them on a college campus.  For the hundreds of other students who don’t live in your area and don’t attend your school, they are out of luck.  But luckily for them, more and more online courses is attracting the best minds in the business, and if you enroll online, you can take advantage of these minds, too.

9) Save your time.  Getting a four year degree is a great decision, and I encourage everyone to pursue their Bachelor’s – and beyond.  But if you have already tried to go to school, or already have a degree but are thinking of switching fields, four years of your life is a long time to go back and redo things.  Getting your online degree will save you time by allowing you to work at your own pace, set your own schedule, and take only the classes you’re interested in.


10) Variety of degrees and programs.  If you’re not sure what you’re interested in, or if you only need a few classes here and there to finish a program, online classes are perfect for you.  You can pick and choose what you’d like, and sample a wide variety without spending too much money.

I hope I’ve outlined for everyone just a few ways that they could benefit from online learning.  If you’re still unconvinced, just check out a few of my other articles that expand more on these topics.

Here are the blog posts relevent to developer trainings:

Developer Training – Importance and Significance – Part 1
Developer Training – Employee Morals and Ethics – Part 2
Developer Training – Difficult Questions and Alternative Perspective – Part 3
Developer Training – Various Options for Developer Training – Part 4
Developer Training – A Conclusive Summary- Part 5

Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)

SQL SERVER – Developer Training Resources and Summary Roundup

It is always pleasure for any author when other renowned authors in the industry write about you. Earlier I wrote a five part blog series on Developer Training and I have received a phenomenal response to the series. I have received plenty of comments, questions and feedback. I thought it would be nice to sum up the whole series as well answer a few of the questions received.

Quick Recap

Developer Training – Importance and Significance – Part 1

In this part we discussed the importance of training in the real world. The most important and valuable resource any company is its employee. Employees who have been well-trained will be better at their jobs and produce a better product.  An employee who is well trained obviously knows more about their job and all the technical aspects. I have a very high opinion about training employees and it is the most important task.

Developer Training – Employee Morals and Ethics – Part 2

In this part we discussed the most crucial components of training. Often employees are expecting the company to pay for their training and the company expresses no interest in training the employee. Quite often training expenses are the real issue for both the employee and employer. There are companies that pay for 100% of the expenses and there are employees who opt for training on their own expense during their personal time. Training is often looked at as vacation by employee and employers and we need to change this mind-set. One of the ways is to report back the learning to your manager and implement newly learned knowledge in day-to-day work.

Developer Training – Difficult Questions and Alternative Perspective – Part 3

This part was the most difficult to write as I tried to address a few difficult questions and answers. Training is such a sensitive issue that many developers when not receiving chance for training think about leaving the organization. The manager often feels pressure to accommodate every single employee for training even though his training budget is limited. It is indeed the responsibility of the developer to get maximum advantage from the training. Training immediately helps organizations but stays as a part of an employee’s knowledge forever.

Developer Training – Various Options for Developer Training – Part 4

In this part I tried to explore a few methods and options for training. The generic feedback I received on this blog post was short and I should have explored each of the subject of the training in details. I believe there are two big buckets of training 1) Instructor Lead Training and 2) Self Lead Training. The common element between both the methods is “learning material”. Learning material can be of any format – videos, books, paper notes or just a plain black board. Instructor-led training is a very effective mode but not possible every single time. During the course of the developer’s career, one has to learn lots of new technology and it is almost impossible to have a quality trainer available on that subject at that time. Books are most effective and proven methods, however, it always helps if someone explains the concepts of the book with a demonstration. In recent times I have started to believe in online trainings which leads to a hybrid experience. Online trainings take the best part of the books and the best part of the instructor-led training and gives effective training in a matter of hours.

Developer Training – A Conclusive Summary- Part 5

In this part, I shared what I was continuously thinking about developer training. There is no better teacher than oneself. There is no better motivation than a personal desire to learn new technology. Honestly there is nothing more personal learning. That “change is the only constant” and “adapt & overcome” are the essential lessons of life. One cannot stop the learning and resist the change. In the IT industry “ego of knowing all” and the “resistance to change” are the most challenging issues. Once someone overcomes them, life is much easier. I believe that proper and appropriate high quality training can help to address the burning issues.

Opinion of Friends

I invited a few of my friends to express their opinion about developer training and here are their opinions. I am listing them here in the order of the blog post publishing date.

Nakul Vachhrajani – Developer Trainings-Importance, Benefits, Tips and follow-up

Nakul’s sums of many of the concepts which are complementary to my blog posts. Nakul addresses the burning question of developer training with different angles. I am personally very impressed by his following statement – “Being skilled does not mean having just a stack of certifications, but it also means having an understanding about the internals of the products that you are working on – and using that knowledge to improve the efficiency & productivity at the workplace in turn resulting in better products, better consulting abilities and a happier self.” Nakul also suggests the online training options of Pluralsight.

Vinod Kumar – Training–a necessity or bonus

Vinod Kumar comes up with excellent follow up on developer training. Vinod is known for his inspirational writing about SQL Server. Vinod starts with a story of a student who is extremely eager to learn the wisdom of life from a monk but the monk does not accept him as a disciple for a long time. The conversation between student and monk is indeed an essence of all learning. We all want to learn quickly and be successful but the most important thing in life is to have the right attitude towards learning and more so towards life. The blog post end with a very important thought about how to avoid the famous excuse – “I don’t have enough time.”

Ritesh Shah – Training – useful or useless?

Ritesh brings up very important concept related to training. Ritesh in his meticulous style explains why training is an important and lifelong process. Training must not stop at any age but should continue forever. The moment training stops, progress stops along with.

Paras Doshi – Professional Development Resource

Paras is known for his to–the-point writing, and has summarized the five part series very precisely. He read the five part series and created a digest summary of the blog post. If you are in a rush and have no time to read my five series – I suggest you read his blog post.

Training Resources

I am often asked what the best resources for learning new technology are. This is the most difficult question EVER. There are plenty of good training resources available. When it is about training our needs are different, our preference of learning is different and we all have an opinion. Additionally, we all are located in different geographic locations worldwide and there is no way one solution will fit all. However, let me list a few of the training resources which I have built so far and you can consume them if you find it relevant to your need.

SQL Server Books

SQL Server Video Tutorials

SQL in Sixty Seconds

Trust me worldwide web is very big and there are plenty of high quality learning materials available worldwide – trainer-led as well online. I suggest you explore various options and make the best choice for yourself. Remember, training is your personal journey and it should never stop.

Are you ready?

Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)

Developer Training – A Conclusive Summary- Part 5

Developer Training – Importance and Significance – Part 1
Developer Training – Employee Morals and Ethics – Part 2
Developer Training – Difficult Questions and Alternative Perspective – Part 3
Developer Training – Various Options for Developer Training – Part 4
Developer Training – A Conclusive Summary- Part 5

We have now reached the end of our series about developer training.  I hope you have come away thinking that training is the best way to advance in your company and that you are looking for training opportunities right now.  If you’re still not convinced here are a few things to keep in mind:

  •  Training benefits the employer and the employee.
  • A well trained employee is a happy employee, and a happy employee is more efficient and productive.
  • Training an employee might be expensive, but it is less expensive than hiring a new person.

Whether you are looking at him from the employee’s or the company’s point of view, there are always advantages to training.

A Broader View

This series is definitely written for Developer Training but it is not limited to developers only. There are IT Pro, System Admins, DBAs as well many other technology professionals; this article series is for all professionals in the world. The concepts and take away will remain common across all the platform and regardless of technology affiliation.

Pass the Knowledge

If I have to pick one advise which is extremely important related to training, I will pick – pass the knowledge. Once you have decided in favor of training, there is more to it than simply showing up and staying awake.  It is always a good idea to take notes – at the very least it will help you stay awake, but they will often serve as a good way to remember your training when you go back to work.  You can also use them to pass your new knowledge on to fellow employees, which can be very fun and rewarding.

Right Place, Right Time and Right Training

There are so many ways to get developer training.  In-person and on the job training is easy to come by and is the most usual type of training, but don’t overlook my favorite type of training: On Demand.  Being able to learn at your own pace, own place and on your own time will make training a realistic goal for almost every employee.

I can think of nothing more important in life than furthering your education.  Especially when you work in a field that is constantly changing – like technology.  Whether you like it or not, training is incredibly important.  That is why I feel it is so important to receive training.  And because there are so many different training formats – live, online, through books, through people – I am certain that we all can find a way to be trained that best suits our goals and personalities.

The Teacher Within

If you think of anyone who is a master of the technology field or an incredibly successful developer (the obvious examples that spring to mind are Steve Jobs or Bill Gates), you will also find a teacher.  Both these individuals spent their lives developing better technology, but also educating other developers and the public about how to use these technologies and how it can change your life for the better.  I think that we all should strive to be like these wonderful teachers.  We might not be able to change the world, but we can certainly change a few lives around us.

Even if we never turn into trainers ourselves , being trained as a student can be a good exercise.  We learn a lot and become better employees – and it would not be a stretch to say that this makes us better individuals, as well.

Final Say

I think learning and growing in your chosen field is not only a good idea, career-wise, but can be fun, too!  I for one never feel more alive than when I am learning about something I am really passionate about.  I think my job title – technology evangelist – explains how enthusiastic I am about this subject.  But please don’t think that I am thinking of this as someone who wants to train and educate others (although this is also one of my passions).  I am also a passionate student.  I enjoy learning new things and am always on the lookout for new ways to learn and new people to learn from.

Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)

Developer Training – Various Options for Maximum Benefit – Part 4

Developer Training – Importance and Significance – Part 1
Developer Training – Employee Morals and Ethics – Part 2
Developer Training – Difficult Questions and Alternative Perspective – Part 3
Developer Training – Various Options for Developer Training – Part 4
Developer Training – A Conclusive Summary- Part 5

If you have been reading this series, by now you are aware of all the pros and cons that can come along with training.  We’ve asked and answered hard questions, and investigated them “whys” and “hows” of training.  Now it is time to talk about all the different kinds of training that are out there!

On Job Training

The most common type of training is on the job training.  Everyone receives this kind of education – even experts who come in to consult have to be taught where the printer, pens, and copy machines are.  If you are thinking about more concrete topics, though, on the job training can be some of the easiest to come across.  Picture this: someone in the company whom you really admire is hard at work on a project.  You come up to them and ask to help them out – if they are a busy developer, the odds are that they will say “yes, please!”   If you phrase your question as an offer of help, you can receive training without ever putting someone in the awkward position of acting as a mentor.  However, some people may want the task of being a mentor.  It can never hurt to ask.  Most people will be more than willing to pass their knowledge along.

Extreme Programming

If your company and coworkers are willing, you can even investigate Extreme Programming.  This is a type of programming that allows small teams to quickly develop code and products that are released with almost immediate user feedback.  You can find more information at http://www.extremeprogramming.org/.  If this is something your company could use, suggest it to your supervisor.  Even if they say no, it will make it clear that you are a go-getter who is interested in new and exciting projects.  If the answer is yes, then you have the opportunity to get some of the best on the job training around.

In Person Training

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When you say the word “training,” most people’s minds go back to the classroom, an image they are familiar with.  While training doesn’t always have to be in a traditional setting, because it is so familiar it can also be the most valuable type of training.  There are many ways to get training through a live instructor.  Some companies may be willing to send a representative to you, where employees will get training, sometimes food and coffee, and a live instructor who can answer questions immediately.  Sometimes these trainers are also able to do consultations at the same time, which can invaluable to a company.  If you are the one to asks your supervisor for a training session that can also be turned into a consultation, you may stick in their minds as an incredibly dedicated employee.  If you can’t find a representative, local colleges can also be a good resource for free or cheap classes – or they may have representatives coming who are willing to take on a few more students.

Benefits of On Demand Developer Training

Of course, you can often get the best of all these types of training with online or On Demand training.  You can get the benefit of a live instructor who is willing to answer questions (although in this case, usually through e-mail or other online venues), there are often real-world examples to follow along – like on the job training – and best of all you can learn whenever you have the time or need.  Did a problem with your server come up at midnight when all your supervisors are safe at home and probably in bed?  No problem!  On Demand training is especially useful if you need to slow down, pause, or rewind a training session.  Not even a real-life instructor can do that!

When I was writing this blog post, I felt that each of the subject, which I have covered can be blog posts of itself. However, I wanted to keep the the blog post concise and so touch based on three major training aspects 1) On Job Training 2) In Person Training and 3) Online training. Here is the question for you – is there any other kind of training methods available, which are effective and one should consider it? If yes, what are those, I may write a follow up blog post on the same subject next week.

Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)

Developer Training – Difficult Questions and Alternative Perspective – Part 3

Developer Training – Importance and Significance – Part 1
Developer Training – Employee Morals and Ethics – Part 2
Developer Training – Difficult Questions and Alternative Perspective – Part 3
Developer Training – Various Options for Developer Training – Part 4
Developer Training – A Conclusive Summary- Part 5

Congratulations!  You are now a fully trained developer!  You spent hours in a classroom, watching webinars, and reading materials.  You are now more educated and more prepared than ever before.  Now what?

Stay or Quit

The simple answer is that you now have two options – stay where you are or move on to a new job.  Even though you might now be smarter than you have ever felt before, this can still be a tough decision to make.  You feel extra trained and ready for a promotion or a raise, but you and your employer might not see eye to eye on this issue.  The logical conclusion is to go on a job hunt, but that might not be the most ethical thing to do.

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Manager’s Perspective

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Try to see the issue from your manager’s perspective.  You feel that you have just spent a lot of time and energy getting trained, and you should be rewarded.  But they have invested their time and energy in you.  They might see the training as a way to help you complete the goals they require from you, or as a way to help you complete tasks that will ultimately end in a reward or promotion.

Moral Compass

As in most cases, honesty is the best policy.  Be open with your manager about your expectations, and ask them to explain their goals.  When there is open and honest communication, everyone can walk away happy.  If you’re unable to discuss with your manager for one reason or another, just try to keep the company policy in mind and follow your own moral compass.  If all else fails, and your company is unwilling to make allowances for your new value, offer to pay the company back for the training before moving on your way.

Whether you stay at your old job or move on to a new one, you are still faced with the question of what you’re going to do with all your new knowledge.  If you feel comfortable, offer to train others around you who are interested in the same subject.  This can look very good on your resume, and if you are working in a team environment it is sure to help you in the long run!

What Next?

You can even offer to train other trainers at the company – managers, those above you, or even report back to your original trainer about how your education is helping you in the work place.  Obviously this should be completely voluntary on the trainer’s part.  Taking advice from a “newbie” may not be their favorite idea, but it could also show the company that you are open to expanding your horizons and being helpful to everyone around you.

Last in Line for Opportunity

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At this time, let us address a subject related to training and what to do with it – what if you are always overlooked for training?  This can as thorny a problem as receiving training in the first place.  The best advice is to let your supervisors know that you are always open to training and very interested in certain topics.  If you are consistently passed over, be patient.  Your turn will probably come, but the company as a whole has to focus on other problems at the moment.  If you feel that there are more personal issues at play, be sure to bring this up with your supervisor in a calm and professional manager so that everything can be worked out best for both parties.

You, Yourself and Your Future!

If all else fails, offer to pay for training yourself.  Perhaps money problems are at the root of being passed over.  Even if there are other reasons, offering to pay your own way shows your dedication and could work out well for you in the long run.  Always remember – in life you have to go out and make your own way, you cannot always sit and wait for things to land in your lap.

Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)

Developer Training – Employee Morals and Ethics – Part 2

Developer Training – Importance and Significance – Part 1
Developer Training – Employee Morals and Ethics – Part 2
Developer Training – Difficult Questions and Alternative Perspective – Part 3
Developer Training – Various Options for Developer Training – Part 4
Developer Training – A Conclusive Summary- Part 5

If you have been reading this series of posts about Developer Training, you can probably determine where my mind lies in the matter – firmly “pro.”  There are many reasons to think that training is an excellent idea for the company.  In the end, it may seem like the company gets all the benefits and the employee has just wasted a few hours in a dark, stuffy room.  However, don’t let yourself be fooled, this is not the case!

Training, Company and YOU!

Do not forget, that as an employee, you are your company’s best asset.  Training is meant to benefit the company, of course, but in the end, YOU, the employee, is the one who walks away with a lot of useful knowledge in your head.  This post will discuss what to do with that knowledge, how to acquire it, and who should pay for it.

Eternal Question – Who Pays for Training?

When the subject of training comes up, money is often the sticky issue.  Some companies will argue that because the employee is the one who benefits the most, he or she should pay for it.  Of course, whenever money is discuss, emotions tend to follow along, and being told you have to pay money for mandatory training often results in very unhappy employees – the opposite result of what the training was supposed to accomplish.  Therefore, many companies will pay for the training.  However, if your company is reluctant to pay for necessary training, or is hesitant to pay for a specific course that is extremely expensive, there is always the art of compromise.  The employee and the company can split the cost of the training – after all, both the company and the employee will be benefiting.

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 This kind of “hybrid” pay scheme can be split any way that is mutually beneficial.  There is the obvious 50/50 split, but for extremely expensive classes or conferences, this still might be prohibitively expensive for the employee.  If you are facing this situation, here are some example solutions you could suggest to your employer:  travel reimbursement, paid leave, payment for only the tuition.  There are even more complex solutions – the company could pay back the employee after the training and project has been completed.

Training is not Vacation

Once the classes have been settled on, and the question of payment has been answered, it is time to attend your class or travel to your conference!  The first rule is one that your mothers probably instilled in you as well – have a good attitude.  While you might be looking forward to your time off work, going to an interesting class, hopefully with some friends and coworkers, but do not mistake this time as a vacation.  It can be tempting to only have fun, but don’t forget to learn as well.  I call this “attending sincerely.”  Pay attention, have an open mind and good attitude, and don’t forget to take notes!  You might be surprised how many people will want to see what you learned when you go back.

Report Back the Learning

When you get back to work, those notes will come in handy.  Your supervisor and coworkers might want you to give a short presentation about what you learned.  Attending these classes can make you almost a celebrity.  Don’t be too nervous about these presentations, and don’t feel like they are meant to be a test of your dedication.  Many people will be genuinely curious – and maybe a little jealous that you go to go learn something new.  Be generous with your notes and be willing to pass your learning on to others through mini-training sessions of your own.

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Practice New Learning

On top of helping to train others, don’t forget to put your new knowledge to use!  Your notes will come in handy for this, and you can even include your plans for the future in your presentation when you return.  This is a good way to demonstrate to your bosses that the money they paid (hopefully they paid!) is going to be put to good use.

Feedback to Manager

When you return, be sure to set aside a few minutes to talk about your training with your manager.  Be perfectly honest – your manager wants to know the good and the bad.  If you had a truly miserable time, do not lie and say it was the best experience – you and others may be forced to attend the same training over and over again!  Of course, you do not want to sound like a complainer, so make sure that your summary includes the good news as well.  Your manager may be able to help you understand more of what they wanted you to learn, too.

Win-Win Situation

In the end, remember that training is supposed to be a benefit to the employer as well as the employee.  Make sure that you share your information and that you give feedback about how you felt the sessions went as well as how you think this training can be implemented at the company immediately.

Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)

Developer Training – Importance and Significance – Part 1

Developer Training – Importance and Significance – Part 1
Developer Training – Employee Morals and Ethics – Part 2
Developer Training – Difficult Questions and Alternative Perspective – Part 3
Developer Training – Various Options for Developer Training – Part 4
Developer Training – A Conclusive Summary- Part 5

Can anyone remember their final day of schooling?  This is probably a silly question because – of course you can!  Many people mark this as the most exciting, happiest day of their life.  It marks the end of testing, the end of following rules set by teachers, and the beginning of finally being able to earn money and work in your chosen field.

Beginning in Real World

However, many former-students will be disappointed to find out that once they become employees, learning is not over.  Many companies are discovering the importance and benefits to training their employees.  You can breathe a sigh of relief, though, because much for this kind of training there are not usually tests!

We often think that we go to school for our younger years so that we do all our learning all at once, and then for the rest of our lives we use that knowledge.  But in so many cases, but especially for developers, the opposite is true.  It takes many years of schools to learn the basics of a field, and then our careers are spent learning to become experts.

For this, and so many other reasons, training is very important.  Example one: developer training leads to better employees.  A company is only as good as the people it employs, and one way to ensure that you have employed the right candidate is through training.  Training can take a regular “stone” and polish it into a “diamond.”  Employees who have been well-trained will be better at their jobs and produce a better product.

Most Expensive Resource

Did you know that one of the most expensive operating costs for any company is not buying goods, or advertising, but its employees – especially having to hire new employees.  Bringing in new people, getting them up to speed, and providing them with perks to attract them to a company is a huge cost for companies.  So employee retention – keep the employees you already have, and keeping them happy – is incredibly important from a business aspect.  And research shows that a well-trained employee is a happy employee.  They feel more confident in their job, happier with their position, and more cared-about – and therefore less likely to leave in search of a better job.  Employee training leads to better retention.

Good Moral

On the subject of keeping employees happy in order to keep them at a company, the complement to that research shows that happier employees are more efficient and overall better at their jobs.  You don’t have to be a scientist to figure out why this is true.  An employee who feel that his company cares about him and his educational future will work harder for the company.  He or she will put in that extra hour during the busy season that makes all the difference in the end.  Good morale is good for the company.

If good morale is better for the company, you know that it goes hand-in-hand with something even better – better efficiency.  An employee who is well trained obviously knows more about their job and all the technical aspects.  That means when a problem crops up – and they inevitably do – this employee will be well-equipped to deal with that problem with fewer problems, and no need to go searching for help from higher up.  When employees are well trained, companies run more smoothly.

A Better Product

Of course, all of these “pros” for employee training are leading up to the one thing that companies truly care about – a better product.  We have shown that employees who have been trained to be competitive in the market are happier at the company, they are more efficient, and their morale is better.  The overall result is that the company’s product – whether it is a database, piece of equipment, or even a physical good – is better.  And a better product will always be more competitive on the market.

Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)