I help with Melbourne Perl Mongers.
I spend an awful lot of time talking about Perl, and have had my picture in the Australian newspapers with a camel. That's rather scary.
The Australian Perl Training Market
Perl Training Australia has been operating for three and a half years now. We're the primary Perl training provider in the Australian/New Zealand region. I get to travel a lot in order to teach people how to use Perl, and have an excellent chance to see how Perl is used by Austrlaian business. In a nutshell Perl usage is widespread, growing, and used in a diverse range of applications and industries.
Of vital importance to our business is who wants to learn Perl, and what they want to learn. A brief glance at our courses page reveals that we have a considerable range of courses available. However it's fairly accurate to say that 20% of our courses generate 80% of our material. Our introductory materials are consistently big winners in terms of sales.
What I find most interesting is the courses that people don't want to attend. Selling advanced courses have proven to be exceptionally difficult. We've attempted to present public training courses by both Damian Conway and Stas Bekman, both excellent presenters and leaders in their field. We've put considerably more advertising effort into promoting these courses than our regular beginner classes, however in both cases the response has been underwhelming.
I've spent some time trying to determine why our beginner classes are so popular, but our advanced courses are not. It seems there are two major factors of influence here:
Firstly, once people know a technology they're more inclined to continue with self-learning, or feel that they 'already know everything' and cannot learn from further training. The second reason is that many managers view skills in a binary fashion: you either know Perl, or you don't. Once an employee has completed the basic training they have a tick in the Perl box, and they don't require any further training. It doesn't matter if the employee disagrees.
The conundrum that we face is that experienced programmers are largely indifferent to our advanced courses, and beginner programmers don't have the funding to attend them.
Exceptions do occur form time-to-time. Particularly enlightened businesses will sometimes book advanced training to be conducted in-house. A few smaller niches here and there do exist, but they can take considerable effort to find and are exhausted rapidly.
Given that our primary business and majority of our income is from training, one may think this is a grim outlook, but the truth is far from it. We're running more training courses than ever before: Perl appears to be enjoying a rapid growth in a number of industry sectors, including government. Beginner courses are very popular.
Despite the growth in the beginner Perl market, I'm hoping that we'll be able to see somewhat of a change with Damian's upcoming Perl Best Practices course. This is a course that's useful for all Perl developers, regardless of their experience. Damian's new book will also have hit the shelves, which will hopefully improve buy-in from management. Places are limited, so register now to secure your place. Mention this journal entry to receive a free autographed copy of Damian's new book.