There’s some decent thinking here in a post about the kinds of ways companies can focus their thinking around employee training. It’s a good conversation to have given that such training is one of the many ways companies have failed to adequately invest in the productivity of their workers.
The fatal flaw in the guidance given in that post is that it assumes the best solutions are going to come from the top down, despite a good amount of evidence those programs don’t work, either because they fail to address actual issues or people drop out. In fact, it seems many of the problems currently facing the workforce stem from the fact that for the last 20 years companies have failed to invest in the kind of training and education of their employees.
A recent story on the MIT Technology Review says managers are going to have to start spending some time training their employees in order to retain a set of skilled workers, particularly when it comes to making sure they know how to work with artificial intelligence and automation. But it also points out that many training programs are available only to a limited number of employees who qualify or who have the kind of time necessary.
What might be more useful is simply encouraging employees to seek out their own continued education and certification programs. Instead of trying to plug a whole company’s worth of square pegs into the same mandated round hole, let everyone do what they feel is best for them and their careers.
If they want to take a class at the local community college, let them and adjust their work schedule to accommodate that. If they want to do something online through Khan Academy or HubSpot or SkillShare or LinkedIn, let them and make it clear they can do so during the work day without penalty.
A number of recent studies show people, particularly the younger set, are taking jobs not so much because of the work but because of the experiences they might have and the skills they may pick up, all of which help them be more productive in this and future positions. They leave jobs when it’s clear their ability to learn more or apply what they’ve learned has stagnated.
Instead of trying to create new corporate program that only a small percentage of workers – usually those who already enjoy some form of cultural advantage like wealth – will qualify for or be able to participate in, simply open the doors to whatever option the employee would like to use and can make a decent case for.
The company can still vet the options and make sure they are applicable, but the onus is off to create a one-size-fits-none solution. And because the employer hasn’t invested significant dollars of them own in a curriculum, infrastructure and so on you bypass the “if we train them and they leave we’ve wasted our money” argument frequently used to justify the lack of educational and training programs.