It’s a frequent debate for employers large and small: should they pay for tech professionals’ certifications and continuing education? When it comes to open-source technologies—which drive much of the modern cloud and web—nearly half of companies (47 percent) are indeed willing to pay for employees’ certifications, according to a new study by Dice and The Linux Foundation. Of course, that’s great news for tech professionals, who always like it when an employer foots the bill for their continuing education. But is it a good deal for employers, which may end up paying out considerable amounts of money to boost employees’ skill-sets? Data from the study suggests the answer to that question is “yes.” Some 89 percent of hiring managers said it’s difficult to find open-source talent, and a rising number of companies (60 percent) are looking for full-time hires with open-source skills. Paying for open-source certifications not only boosts employee morale and productivity—it also gives companies an advantage over rivals that have a hard time securing the right talent. Some 58 percent of hiring managers told Dice and The Linux Foundation that they would hire more open-source professionals over the next six months. In addition, for 67 percent of respondents, that open-source hiring will outpace talent acquisition in other parts of their business—that’s a two-point increase over last year’s survey. “With the tech unemployment rate holding steady at around 2.5 percent, employers are keen to hang on to talent once they find it. With the rate as low at 1.2 percent for programmers, filling these and other IT positions can be especially tricky,” read the note accompanying the survey data. “The year began with a bump in the turnover rate, signaling that IT pros felt confident in their ability to find new positions that would make better use of their skills—and intensifying employers need to keep existing employees happy.” Keeping employees happy requires more than just paying out higher salaries. Perks such as continuing education can help with employee retention—and ensure those employees have the right skills to do the job.
Nick Kolakowski has written for The Washington Post, Slashdot, eWeek, McSweeney's, Thrillist, WebMD, Trader Monthly, and other venues. He's also the author of "A Brutal Bunch of Heartbroken Saps" and "Maxine Unleashes Doomsday," a pair of noir thrillers.