Proper training at the heart of mastering new IT release

11 March 2016

For some, learning a new foreign language or a musical instrument is a pleasure and progress is swift. For others, learning Spanish or playing the piano will be a long and difficult struggle. But for one thing’s for certain, children seem to find meeting these complicated learning challenges much easier to master than most adult beginners.

But what about learning new IT as adults?  Is modern software design now so simple and intuitive that it has reduced our resistance to learning new packages and applications? Or could it be that no matter how beautiful the interface, or user-friendly the design, it will always take some people much sweat and application to master the application, if you’ll forgive the pun. 

We ran a poll recently – and many thanks to everyone who took part if you are reading this now – to see how our attitudes to learning new software change as we get older. Looking at the results, there was a wide spread of views. We found a quarter of people in their in the late thirties and forties happily admitting that learning new software applications became harder with each passing year. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the numbers grew with age, with almost four in ten of those in their fifties saying that they struggled to keep up with new applications.

What might surprise you there were also many younger office workers, including those in their twenties, who also felt that staying on top of new software became harder as they aged. Fifteen percent of people in their mid-twenties to early thirties confessed to finding it a challenge. Personally, I’m not surprised. My view is that some people take to learning IT like ducks to water, and they can learn, and importantly enjoy mastering, new software releases no matter how old they are. Others will always find IT harder – even when young, and it won’t get much easier for them as they get older. These people just don’t have the easy, natural affinity with software and IT. I don’t think it is at all related to intelligence; I’ve worked with many who are bright and capable but don’t share that affinity with software. What’s more important is that there is, fortunately, much we can all do to help.

Overwhelmingly, our poll told us that everyone felt that good training was vital to staying on top of new software releases. In fact, two thirds said that better training would help them enormously when learning new software. Fortunately, laying on systematic, properly planned and sufficiently thorough training is something any firm can provide, as long as they are willing to invest in their staff’s skills and progress.

People said they prefer hands-on learning from practical demonstrations rather than lecture-style training. And, just as importantly, they wanted to have the time to experiment and learn at their own pace after formal training sessions. No one wanted to be labelled as an expert after a single software training event, and they wanted to be treated individuals, and if given the choice, would like their firms to lay on extra help if they needed it.Encouragingly, nearly half of the people we polled said their firms did provide extra support for those who struggled with new IT releases. 

Given the importance of IT to business efficiency and customer service, it would be great if all employers matched this high level of commitment to their staff’s ongoing professional development.  

To read another view on our poll please see this piece by Zen Terrelonge in Real Business.

For further information, please contact Jason Mitchell or your local MHA MacIntyre Hudson tax advisor. Alternatively, join the conversation at our MHA MacIntyre Hudson Tech Sector LinkedIn Group.