BY VICTOR ADAR
With ever growing competition among organizations to hire and retain top talent and worrying skills mismatch in the workplace, institutions have not put in place requisite learning and development systems to bridge skills gap, cultivate relationships, ensure employee satisfaction and grow bottom lines, experts have said.
A document by City & Guilds Group business Kineo, a global skills organization, indicates that while employees around the world have a strong appetite for learning, they are inhibited by a lack of accessible, appropriate and engaging training opportunities. The study that surveyed 6,500 employees and 1,300 employers across 13 markets among them Kenya, South Africa and the UK found that while 79% of employees expressed interest in seeing a bigger focus on training and people development in their workplace, 85% are currently struggling to access training in their workplace.
At the same time, the existing training programmes have come under scrutiny with only 16% of those surveyed in the study finding them effective and relevant to their growth and that of their organizations. As the workplace learning and development programmes fail to meet employee’s expectations, the staff are looking at personalized alternatives with the research indicating that six out of the 10 employees surveyed invested their personal time in learning, education or training activity, and 59% had sought online advice, guidance or e-learning solutions.
With the statistics and the realities of changing trends, the onus to turn around workplaces is on both the companies and the staff. As employees express appetite for learning and development training that have proved effective in a majority of organizations’ well-being, studies indicate that there hasn’t been commensurate investment in them by organizations.
It is against this backdrop that players in the training, learning and development industry among them human resource and development practitioners, training managers and coordinators, capacity development experts, curriculum and skills development experts, innovators and investors met in the first week of December 2019 for the Annual Training Evaluation Compendium in Africa, ATECA, conference.
Themed Value and accountability in training management and human resource development investments, the conference aimed at placing a pulse on the current learning systems and technologies while championing for increased investment in modern training models that make business sense to African organizations and their workforce. It targeted corporate, academia, not-for-profit, government and international development institutions.
Catherine Jura, director of learning and development at Edify Learning Forum Africa, ELFA, the conveners of the conference, argues that while a majority of organizations have acknowledged the connection between corporate learning development and business sustainability, it is not advisable to despise current trends.
To Mrs Jura, rolling out advanced training models can transform workplaces. But that is not enough. Emphasis ought to be on creating and designing a “learning organization” that has acquired skill-sets in creating, interpreting, transferring, retaining and managing knowledge.
“It is unfortunate that the effectiveness and the appropriateness of the learning organization model in Africa still leaves a lot to be desired,” she said. “Due to technological advancements and globalization, our working environment is constantly changing, there is a focus on ‘employee-driven’ or ‘user centric’ learning approaches.”
In this day and age where business landscape is fast changing, and technology redefines future of work, human resources practitioners and training managers, it is important to gain constant skills upgrade. The greatest investment that a company can make is, therefore, to enable a growing demand for personal development focusing mainly on staff members.
It is all about being consistent; s. Most workplaces which were once good but became toxic environments that ended up making people sick and unproductive can be turned around by throwing in a little creativity.
“It is essential to understand what this actually mean for us in Africa. Investing on learning management systems adopted globally that may or may not be suitable for circumstances that employees operate in,” said Jura, adding that conference intends to also develop an open source compilation of best practices that will bolster and harmonize training, learning and development among African organizations while aligning them to emerging global trends.