Supporting Your Developers’ Drive to Learn

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Supporting Your Developers’ Drive to Learn

In this installment of our 2014 DI Developer Survey Report blog series, we’ll explore how much time developers spend learning – and why not supporting their drive to learn is costing you money. (Missed the introduction to this series? You can find it here.)

One aspect of developer learning the survey investigated is the habit of learning. Through our years of experience in the technical learning and development industry, we knew that developers tend to be self-directed when it comes to learning. They like to learn, and are driven to learn – regardless of how their organization approaches learning opportunities. The question we needed answered wasn’t whether developers like to learn; rather, we wanted to know how much of their own time developers spend on learning activities.

Nearly all survey respondents said they spend an average of four to five hours per week of their own time learning. At first look, this may appear to be an admirable personal investment on the part of the engineers. However, more than likely, this learning is done on the job, which creates a debt when measured against project plans and software quality. Calculating the average salary of a senior-level engineer during the hours spent on this “learn-on-your-own” approach shows this is a costly model – to the tune of $18,750 per engineer per year.

How much is your annual training budget, per engineer? Probably not $18,750. (In its 2013 State of the Industry report, ASTD found that employers they surveyed spend an average of $1,195 per employee on learning and development in 2012[1].)

The practice of self-improvement should be encouraged throughout every engineering organization. With a formal learning plan that is thoughtfully designed and intentional in execution, companies can improve productivity of developers who are better equipped to do their job, and feel supported in their need to continue learning new skills. This makes learning opportunities an investment that goes a long way toward retaining current talent – and attracting new talent – in an organization.

For more on this topic, and to read the 2014 DI Developer Survey Report in full, download your free copy today. Interested in learning how your developers compare? Contact our consultants today, at (877) 629-5631 or via email, to discuss our Needs Assessment services.


[1] Staff, ASTD Editorial, ed. “Direct Expenditure per Employee.” ASTD 2013 State of the Industry (2013): 10-11. Print.