Paul Wayper has said that he only wants to work for companies that will send him too LCA . While that criteria is quite reasonable it seems overly specific. Among other things the varying location of LCA will result in the expense for the employer varying slightly year by year – which employers generally don’t like.
I believe that a better option is to have an employment package that specifies a certain amount of money (related to the gross income of the employee) should be set aside for training, hardware, or other expenses that help the employee (or their colleagues) do their job. Such an option would probably only be available to senior employees who are most able to determine the most effective way of spending the money.
For example an employee who earns $100,000 per annum might be permitted to assign 10% of their income ($10,000) to training or hardware that assists their job. Modern PCs are so cheap that any reasonable hardware requirements could fit within that budget with ease.
There are several benefits to such a scheme. On many occasions I have had colleagues who had inadequate hardware to do their work, slow PCs with small screens really impacted their productivity, in such situations buying a $400 PC and a $400 monitor for each person in the team could make a significant direct improvement to productivity before the impact on moralle kicked in!
Some years ago Lenovo ran some adverts for Thinkpads which said “demand one at the interview”. That made sense when a Thinkpad was an expensive piece of hardware. While there are still some expensive Thinkpads, there is a good range of cheap models, two which cost less than $1200AU and another eight which cost between $1200 and $1800. Now it makes more sense to allow each employee to choose their own hardware (both desktop and portable) and not even bother about issues such as whether the IT department blesses them. As Tom Limoncelli suggested in his LCA keynote, users are going to take more control over their environment whether the IT department like it or not, so it’s best to work with them rather than fighting them.
For training a common problem is that management can’t correctly determine which conferences are worthy of the expense of sending their technical staff. Then when a conference is selected they send everyone. It seems to me that when there are a number of conferences in a region (EG AUUG, LCA, OSDC, and SAGE-AU in Australia) there is a benefit in having someone from your team attend each one. Planning at the start of the year which conferences will be attended by each team member is something that appears to be beyond the ability of most managers as it requires knowing the technical interests and skill areas of most staff. If each employee was granted one week of paid time per year to attend conferences and they could determine their own budget allocation then they would be able to work it out themselves in a more effective manner.