Providing training and development programs to employees is an essential part of any successful business, but the investment can be pricey. It costs about US $1000 a year to train an employee, according to the American Society for Training and Development. To help companies get a handle on such costs, the IEEE Computer Society has launched two programs.
The Corporate Affiliate Program (CAP) gives employees free access to the society’s thousands of online courses, hundreds of digital books, dozens of proficiency exams, and discounts on other products. The training webinars program offers companies custom online courses produced by the society.
With the CAP, companies pay an annual fee for a subset of IEEE Computer Society products and services that they then can offer free to their employees through a dedicated portal. Employees can access the society’s 3500 training courses, 600 e-books, and nearly 30 aptitude exams. They also get a free subscription to the digital version of the society’s flagship magazine, Computer, and receive discounts on software certification programs, assessment courses, conferences, webinars, and other offerings.
The CAP was launched in January 2011 as a pilot program at the security company Northrop Grumman Information Systems. Neil Siegel, vice president and chief engineer for NGIS and a member of the IEEE Computer Society’s industry advisory board, initiated the program after the company recognized a need for training programs but found few low-cost providers. NGIS was the society’s first customer.
For companies needing specialized training, the society is prepared to produce hour-long training webinars on just about any topic within the society’s fields of interest, including artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, gaming, software testing, and systems design. Presenters are typically society members knowledgeable on the subject, like IBM Fellow Grady Booch, a developer of the Unified Modeling Language, and Mary Poppendieck, lecturer and award-winning coauthor of Lean Software Development: An Agile Toolkit [Addison-Wesley Professional, 2003]. Experts from the companies are also encouraged to present material.
The webinar program was modeled after the successful Lockheed Martin/IEEE-CS Webinar Series begun four years ago that continues today. Lockheed’s Corporate Engineering and Technology group vets the topics, and Lockheed Martin Fellows moderate the sessions to ensure the presentations cover key technical, development, and business concerns facing the company. Webinars last year addressed systems engineering economics, technical autonomy, software product lines, and working with legacy systems. Lockheed Martin ordered 20 webinars for this year.
“Besides providing Lockheed Martin software and systems engineers with an effective tool for learning about new systems engineering developments, the webinars have provided immediate benefits to employees and generated discussions about the new developments they learned about,” says Scott LaChance, the company’s senior software engineer.
In a survey that asked employees whether the webinars were meeting their training needs, more than 75 percent of respondents said the sessions were “very valuable” and helped them keep their technical skills current. The speakers consistently received high marks: More than 90 percent of participants characterized them as “knowledgeable and interesting,” and more than 95 percent requested that the webinar series be continued.