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Lack of Education Investment Now May Sacrifice the Future

November 4, 2008

There's a risk that this post is going to sound horribly self-serving, but we hope those who know us will understand the motivation behind it.

We're teaching a private class in Florida right now, and the fact that this particular company has chosen to invest in its staff has served to highlight for us just how short-sighted many companies are.

We first started thinking about this when we saw the impact that the economic downturn had on attendance at recent conferences. There were three in a period of four weeks. COMMON's Focus in San Francisco, our own RPG & DB2 Summit in Las  Vegas and DevCon in Orlando. We have heard that COMMON's numbers were much lower than they had hoped, but the folks at COMMON rarely talk about actual paid attendee numbers so we can't tell just how disappointing. We do know from discussions with the organizers at DevCon last week that their results very closely matched ours. Prior to the  downturn, both conferences were on track for high turnouts--then suddenly the  registrations just stopped dead and in the end both groups considered themselves lucky to have matched the turnouts at their previous events.

Why is it that the minute cash gets tight, that education is the first thing to go out the window? Isn't a tight economic climate _exactly_ the time when you need greater productivity? At the Summit one attendee told Jon that she had learned things in the first day of the conference that had already recouped the entire investment many times over. She had, among other things, found the answers to a number of questions that been plaguing her department for some time and had already cost the company many hundreds of wasted man-hours. Another attendee told us that they considered the conference had paid for itself after the first session! That has to be some kind of record.

Just as a philosophy of investment in hard times should apply to companies, so we should apply it to ourselves as individuals. With major institutions collapsing around us and others cutting back on staff, maybe this is a really good time to add new skills to your resume. Go pick up a book on PHP or MySQL or Java or even modern RPG-programming techniques (the RPG Redbook, for example, if you haven't  mastered the techniques there), or ... well you get the picture. Your employer may not have the good sense to invest in your productivity--don't you go making  the same mistake. It is, after all, _your_ career.

A note to our readers: Today is election day in U.S., so don't forget to vote if you haven't done so yet. Susan has already voted, and Jon wishes he could--but since he can't
he had to be content with "voting" at a site dedicated to the idea that the U.S. affects the rest of the world to such an extent that they should get a vote too.

Posted November 4, 2008| Permalink

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