Skills shortages

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Written by Barry Johnson on 19 August 2019

Reading time: 2m 30s.

The Open University Business Barometer indicates a failure of companies to invest in training. The data suggests that fewer than one in four (23%) employers offered training to existing employees to add to the skills available within their organisation.

More than half (53%) of organisations have increased their training budget in the past 12 months - by an average of 10%. Only 10%, when the level of digital disruption the UK within the past decade has been both unprecedented and unexpected and the fourth industrial revolution is rolling forward to impact all industries.

Then there is the question of the quality of classroom training and the failure of managers to be trained in their crucial role in training their employees. There seems to be many items that need to be addressed, so let us gently coast through them.

Classroom training. Much of this in current practice seems little to do with learning, just a set of PowerPoint presentations presumably assuming the observers will be learning.

We have many ignorant managers who believe learning occurs if a person is told something so want to shorten courses, so they fail to be learning events.

Have the managers been trained in learning needs analysis so they can inform the trainer what specifically his or her employees need to understand and be able to do?

The manager needs to engage with the trainer so the trainer can implement the requirements and assist the manager in understanding what will be required post-course to ensure the learning can be practised. The purpose of training is that the employee knows what he or she doing and how to do it. The first part is in the course and the second part is in a training unit or on the job.

As a practical example, the post-learning event that commercial pilots go onto is simulator training, then flight training before gaining experience as a supernumerary on commercial flights. Factory workers have a similar routine.

They do an introductory course, then go into a training area with the machines they will operate and spend some weeks operating and then setting up the machines and handling faults. Then working in the factory where the supervisors are also trained coaches.

Let’s consider the post-learning event on the job. The steps are a debriefing by the manager, and then a programme with selected and coaching-trained skilled employees. It holds that individuals obtain 70% of their skills from job-related experiences, 20% from interactions with others, and 10% from the formal training event.

I would only make a few points. If you want skilled men and women in all jobs in business learning requires investment. It needs trainers who can help learners learn the things that trained managers want them to learn. It needs managers that are trained to action 70:20:10 and employees on the shop floor who can advise, coach learners and that takes skill training.

Are we in the UK going to survive the fourth industrial revolution onslaught without a massive training investment?


About the author

Barry Johnson BA, CMCIPD, MCMI, is a non-executive director at Learning Partners Ltd.

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