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Training Microsoft Certified Professionals (MCPs) gives huge returns on investment, but may lead to your staff being poached, according to IDC research. Today’s report, presented at a London press conference, showed businesses training employees to MCP status raised their productivity while cutting PC failure by 50 per cent. IDC’s survey of 203 IS managers in the UK, Germany and France revealed a return on investment at four times the initial training costs. Findings in the research – which was commissioned by Microsoft - showed costs of $4,263 to certify one employee in the UK, $6,204 in Germany and $8,402 in France. Overall, server downtime outlay decreased 57 per cent, at around £138,000 per year with qualified staff compared to £321,000 without. Help desks also increased in efficiency – support calls costs were cut by 25 per cent, with productivity jumping from seven to 10 calls an hour per employee. IDC senior analyst Harald Himsel described the certification as "a preferred must." However, he admitted companies may lose employees once they had trained them. "Although money is not everything - on the contrary, certification is one of the means of keeping people - there is no conclusive evidence that it enhances staff retention." Microsoft skills and services development manager David Burrows told journalists that many corporations did not understand the value of getting training certificates. Many preferred to dig deeper into their pockets and hire already skilled freelance IT professionals rather than invest in training their own people, he said. "The general problem is that once people are trained, they are more attractive. If companies don’t offer pay rises or promotion, they lose the staff they have invested in," said Burrows. He added that he would like to see more long-term planning by management for its workforce. Burrows also commented on the general IT skills shortage, talking of the "untapped market" in the armed forces. In less than a year, Microsoft has brought 25,000 such employees into the US market. According to Burrows, this was something the company was "planning to replicate in the UK". ®

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