It’s Time to Invest in Our Country’s Future

The Dunn & Bradstreet Small Business website (https://smallbusiness.dnb.com/human-resources/careers-job-training/1151-1.html) included the following simple “reminder” that skill-based training can be of great value to your company, regardless of its size.

Training your workers can be a tremendous drain on your time and resources. But before you dismiss the idea of helping your employees learn new skills, consider the ways that skill-based training can positively affect your employees and your company.

Training increases employee productivity. 

In addition to learning how to complete new tasks and take on more responsibility, employees can learn advanced techniques to help them complete everyday tasks more efficiently. For example, sending your bookkeeper to an advanced Excel class may help him or her learn shortcuts to simplify the accounting processes.

Training reduces turnover. 

Employees who don’t receive guidance or have difficulty learning the ropes are much more likely to leave your company. Employees are less likely to leave if they have the opportunity to learn new skills and keep up within their industry.

Training improves job satisfaction. 

Investing time and money in employees’ skills makes them feel valued and appreciated, and it challenges them to learn more and get more involved in their jobs. Higher job satisfaction ultimately results in reduced turnover and higher productivity.

Training aids in the recruiting process. 

If you’re committed to training, you’ll be more willing to hire a desirable candidate who lacks a specific skill. Training also makes your company more attractive in the eyes of potential employees because it shows them that they have room to grow and accept new challenges. In addition, training existing employees could reduce the need to hire new staff.

Training rewards long-time employees. 

You’ll be more willing to promote existing employees who have learned new skills and are ready to take on new challenges.

Training reduces the need for employee supervision. 

Not only does skill-based training teach employees how to do their jobs better, but it also helps them work more independently and develop a can-do attitude.

In an article on the Community for Human Resource Management site (http://www.chrmglobal.com/Articles/289/1/Skill-Based-Training.html), they posted a similar reminder:

Changing economy and changing technology calls for talents that can face the challenges to the attainment of organizational objectives. An organization can recruit new people with the specialized skills, which is expensive. On the other hand, an organization may choose to provide specific trainings in skill areas in demand. When adequate training is imparted to the staff, it not only motivates them to work harder, it acts like a refresher and keeps their minds sharp. Skill based training guarantees continuous supply of skilled workforce to meet the ever changing environment.

The rapid growth of the Silicon Valley in the late 90’s fostered a climate where it was easier to “buy” new workers with the desired skills than to retrain the existing employees. While the efficiency of this approach is not to be denied, it also fed a skills gap within the high tech industry. Only the workers with the latest skills would be needed. Many companies looked overseas for temp workers (with H-1B visas) to fill their vacancies. While they paid premiums to the recruiting firms who carried the sought-after talent (and H-1B visas), they could quickly “refresh” their workforce at will.

According to Thomas A. Kochan, in the March 2012 Harvard Business Review, we are approaching a crisis point in our country,

Without a well-trained, well-paid, continuously improving workforce the United States cannot compete with other nations effectively—and won’t be able to sustain high and rising living standards. Yet at all levels of the economy, we behave as if we don’t believe that: Firms value short-term profits over investment in workers; federal policy makers fail to address high, persistent unemployment and underemployment; most people’s wages have stagnated for three decades, despite gains in productivity; and unions have become convenient scapegoats even as their influence has sharply declined. These realities seem to defy logic, yet we allow this human capital paradox to persist. The result: a true national emergency.

Where did this employment approach lead us? It created a skills gap within the American workforce. It developed and continues to feed the software industry where these H-1B visa workers return to. It continues to support unemployment of educated American workers (without current skillsets).

Former IBM executive and Sloan Foundation president Ralph Gomory puts it this way:

The principal actors in attaining [the nation’s] economic goals must be our corporations. But today our government does not ask U.S. corporations, or their leaders, to build productivity here in America; much less does it provide incentives for them to move in that direction…[Government leaders] do not realize that the fundamental goals of the country and of our companies have diverged. The sole focus on profit maximization, which leads to offshoring and holds down wages, does not serve the nation…We must act to realign the goals of company and country. [Gomory’s own emphasis]

It’s time for companies to include domestic workforce development into their strategic plans. As cited above, it makes good sense. In tough economic times, companies all need to watch their bottom lines, but are they paying more and receiving less?

Still not sold on the idea? Consider the recent article posted on the  Deccan Herald  website: “Need for skill based training in the corporate world” Not familiar with that newspaper? (It’s published in Bangalore, India).

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

Thomas A. Kochan, in the March 2012 Harvard Business Review, http://hbr.org/2012/03/a-jobs-compact-for-americas-future/ar/1

Gomory quote: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ralph-gomory/country-and-company-part_b_174875.html

Deccan Herald: http://www.deccanherald.com/content/67497/need-skill-based-training-corporate.html

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