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I came across a post last week that caught my eye: Don’t let training and skills be the forgotten investment in the digital revolution. You won’t be surprised to hear I agree with its call for companies to invest in continuing education for their IT staff.

“During any economic downturn, one of the first items to be struck from the corporate cost base is training,” worries author Bryan Glick. Which is a big problem considering that, in Europe alone, there will be 300,000-800,000 IT-related vacancies by 2015 as a growing skill gap makes qualified candidates harder to find.

However, I see a lot of companies who understand the value of continually training their IT professionals. When CompTIA interviewed 502 IT managers and business managers overseeing IT staff for its 2012 State of the IT Skills Gap, 57% said they were planning to train or retrain existing staff to address skill gaps.

“IT professionals have a strong propensity for lifelong learning and skills enhancement, so the large majority will welcome the opportunity to broaden their knowledge,” notes Terry Erdle, executive vice president of skills certification for CompTIA. I couldn’t agree more, which is why we are constantly adding new courses to our portfolio.

But lifelong learning isn’t just good for skilled IT professionals, it’s also good for businesses. Verified by a recent VMware study, cloud computing supported by highly skilled professionals consistently elevates the quality and speed of IT and business innovation. By prioritizing training in virtualization and cloud computer technologies, companies put themselves in a position to respond more quickly to an increasingly unpredictable market.

Still not convinced? Here’s one more reason to give IT professionals frequent opportunities to improve their skill sets: It will keep star players on your team.

In Keeping IT Staff Happy, Information Age cited a survey of 200 IT administrators in the UK, which found 73% of IT admins are considering leaving their jobs—the same percentage, not surprisingly, that described their job as “stressful.” Yikes!

While decreasing stress in most IT jobs will be a slow process, the post suggests a great way to improve satisfaction immediately: Give IT professionals fun problems to solve and better skills to help them solve them.

Scott Alan Miller describes the need for education in even more dire terms in his SMB IT Journal. “If an IT professional is not given the chance to not just maintain, but grow their skills, they will stagnate and gradually become useless technically and likely to fall into depression,” he says. “To maintain truly useful IT staff, time and resources for continuous education is critical.”

No more depressed IT professionals, I say! And I think our VMware training and certification programs are one of the best ways to keep your IT staff happy (I might be partial ;)) so they can help your business keep its bottom line happy, too.

If that sounds like a good idea to you, get started with our VMware Learning Path Tool to see which path is right for you. Or, jump right in and check out our growing list of courses, with flexible formats to work with every schedule and budget.

David