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How can IT companies gain potential capacity sufficient to sustainable development?
For example, how can we quickly meet the requirements of an important customer or start a new service if it proves to be popular?
ICL Services IT outsourcing company solves these problems using a system of corporate training and development system. Its concept resembles Lifelong learning: employees are provided with opportunities for continuous professional development focused on their interests and business needs of the company.
Stage 1. Preliminary training
Many employees start studying in ICL Services long before they are hired (and even before they take a final decision to join the company.)
- ICL Services is involved in fundamental higher education through cooperation with KFU and KNRTU-KAI — the region’s leading universities on IT fields of study. The basis of these programs — the Fujitsu Labs project organized with the participation of a long-standing partner of ICL Services — Fujitsu corporation. Students undergo specialized training over 2-3 semesters. IT professionals from ICL Services hold classes and complement theoretical course with real-life experience on the basis of real business objectives of the company. ICL Services is also cooperating with KFU on special projects (for example, artificial intelligence) and with KNRTU-KAI on joint educational programs.
- The company annually organizes university olympiads to identify talented young people and promote their development in the IT field.
- ICL Services scholarships support young IT professionals.
- Many students and young professionals serve internship in the company. ICL Services also collaborates with universities and vendors.
- Finally, ICL Services organizes short-term courses on IT specialization. Some are for students from specialized universities, others — for all young professionals. Graduates are awarded with certificates and for many of them such courses are advanced.
Andrew Krekhov, Deputy Director on special programs in ICL Services, notes: «One of the goals of the company is to develop the labor market in the IT sector, as well as to prepare young professionals for the needs of the company.» The described prior education system was created to achieve these goals.
For example, in 2015 over 50% of interns and over 60% of graduates of short courses have joined ICL Services (in any case, students have no further employment obligations.) Graduates of ICL Services education programs are young professionals who already have significant experience and skills immediately after graduating.
Stage 2. Professional development — joint responsibility of an employee and the company
Even more spectacular prospects open for the employees of ICL Services. T&D system in the company is designed to provide maximum opportunities to employees interested in personal development.
The main directions of T&D are:
- Internal training with corporate trainers. Training courses on soft skills, workshops, research projects and IT courses are organized. 95% of employees pass internal training annually. Almost everyone visit the corporate library with the latest professional and business literature.
- External training at the expense of the company (usually related to a specific project.) Over 50 providers train employees of ICL Services on technology and standards of Microsoft, Cisco, Oracle, Citrix, Linux, VmWare, EMC, IBM, Red Hat, ITIL, Prince2, CA Technologies, Oracle Solaris, etc. The company’s employees also take part in major IT events and conferences around the world. Over the last 2 years around 70% of employees passed external training annually.
- 84% of employees each year pass certification exams, which are also paid by the company.
- Internal and external online courses. In addition, employees of ICL Services are provided with unrestricted access to iLearn — educational portal of Fujitsu. iLearn contains hundreds of courses on soft skills, IT standards and expertises and is available anytime and anywhere. These features are extremely popular, each year 98-100% of employees pass courses online.
- Language training. ICL Services is one of the few Russian IT companies (and perhaps the only one in the region) with its own foreign language school. In addition, employees attend courses from several external providers.
- Creations of personal development plans. Any employee can visit seminars and learn how to plan personal development, find out which means and methods will be most effective. Experts of T&D team make recommendations on the development of required competencies based on proven training programs and methods. Successful employees share their experience of self-development. The best courses, internal trainings, etc. are included in compulsory development programs.
The company also has a number of special internal programs. Two of them are particularly interesting.
- The training program for managerial candidate pool focused on the development of managerial skills. It was launched 4 years ago and now 43 employees of the company passed it. 65% of them were invited to managerial positions after the program.
- In 2013, T&D experts from ICL Services developed a unique training program for internal trainers. Over a 3-month course employees can improve their trainer, leader and speaker skills. These competencies are immediately put into practice in order to increase the efficiency of internal technical workshops, courses and trainings. In other words, the training program for internal trainers is used to improve employees’ skills.
The total funding for T&D traditionally takes 2.5% of the ICL Services payroll. These investments provide a good effect.
3. High potential — sustainable development
The developed system allows employees to enhance their skills and professional value. The company also gets great opportunities, such as:
- quickly improve competences of the team required by a new customer;
- in case the project scope increases — quickly expand the team working on it;
- rapidly create a new popular service area in response to market trends;
- upon completion of the project — quickly «redeploy» the team on other tasks, etc. In practice, this approach is embodied in sustainable progressive development of the company. Here are a few examples from ICL Services.
- Signing contracts with global clients (Itella, Sanofi, Renaissance Capital, etc.) requiring the highest possible quality standards.
- Large-scale structural changes in 2014-2015, when the company established new divisions on the most popular services (eg, work place infrastructure, Service Desk, etc.) This presupposed fast creation/expansion of the team involved in the provision of services. Since the regional labor market lacked necessary experts, the problem was solved through the internal system of professional development.
- Continuous expansion of the company’s staff (by over 10 times in 9 years) associated with the growing number and scope of the projects and expressed in hiring new employees even under economic perturbations of 2008 and 2014-2015. As a result, the company is one of the largest taxpayers from the IT field in the region.
- Opening new offices in Russia. Currently ICL Services has created jobs in 6 cities of Russia, including Kazan (head office), Moscow and St. Petersburg.
- High competence of our employees made ICL Services a popular service provider among European customers. This required us to open an additional office in Europe.