Friday, November 11, 2011

TRAC: A2.3: Keeping ahead of the curve

A2.3 Repository has an active professional development program in place that provides staff with skills and expertise development opportunities.

Technology will continue to change, so the repository must ensure that its staff’s skill sets evolve, ideally through a lifelong learning approach to developing and retaining staff. As the requirements and expectations pertaining to each functional area evolve, the repository must demonstrate that staff are prepared to face new challenges.

Evidence: Professional development plans and reports; training requirements and training budgets, documentation of training expenditures (amount per staff); performance goals and documentation of staff assignments and achievements, copies of certificates awarded. 

ICPSR does a very good job organization-wide at encouraging staff to develop professionally.  This manifests itself in several different ways:  attending workshops and seminars; taking courses to learn new skills and abilities; and, most impressively, funding continuing education for staff who want to pursue a degree (often a graduate degree).  In the technology shop we take advantage of the generous professional development budget in many ways. 

The operations team (managed by Asmat Noori) is always bringing new technology into ICPSR:  new storage systems, new backup systems, new versions of software and operating systems, and more.  And so there is a recurring need for people to attend training workshops so that they can manage new technologies effectively and efficiently.  Further, some types of training - such as SANS security training - cuts across many different technologies, and needs to be renewed every few years, and the training budget also supports this type of activity.

The software development team (managed by Nathan Adams) also makes regular use of professional development.  In this case the new technology is usually a software system or development system component, not a new type of hardware.  And we will sometimes bring a trainer on-site to deliver a course to our entire team rather than sending people away to a class.  Nathan also has one staff member taking advantage of the tuition package offered by ICPSR, and is enrolled in the University of Michigan's School of Information Master's degree program.

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