Where Has All the Training Gone?

It’s a subject that has fascinated me for most of my working life. Why are companies so against training staff to get the experience they are after? I don’t mean training in how to do the job, but why overlook a very good candidate purely because they don’t have experience in one program or another? A good candidate will have experience in a number of different packages and should be able to get up to speed in a short period of time.

It’s happened to me on a number of occasions, I’ve answered an advert for an ‘urgent requirement’ for a position only to be told that while I may have 20 years of experience, I’m not going to be considered purely because I haven’t used a certain package. Lo and behold, that ‘urgent requirement’ is still there 3 months later.

In that time I, or many other candidates could have been employed and given some training and be well into a project. In the mean-time money is wasted on advertising or worse still, the company employs someone without the required skills purely based on their software experience. You may scoff at this, but it’s something I have seen time and again and companies just don’t seem to learn.

The one I like the most if the firm who introduces a ‘new software package’ that’s going to solve all their problems. We’ll bring it in here because it’s being used all over the world. That sounds great, but how many in your local market have used it? You’re not going to get much of a response when you look for people with 5 years plus experience when there’s lucky to be a single user in your area that has been exposed to it.

This then brings up the next great topic for discussion, it’s obvious that we need to bring in overseas skills as there is a lack of experienced people locally. Right…. Let’s bring in cheap, or worse, expensive overseas people to an already flooded local market purely because we won’t train people. Let’s alienate those who could help build the local scene purely because of a perceived waste of funds. Anyone start to see where the real money pit is?

I must admit, I’ve been pretty lucky to receive and deliver free training at firms who can see where it is a benefit. Free in that the firm pays the trainer if the staff are willing to give up their time for free. That could be evenings, weekend or any other spare time. Why not if it’s going to mean better trained staff, happier existing staff and a growing group of people who are willing to pass on their experience and feel part of the company moving forward.

For new staff it’s a great way to feel part of a new firm, meet and get involved with their new colleagues as well as learning new skills. Far from being a waste of money, it gives employees a chance to feel part of the team, keeping up moral and giving staff the impetuous to learn more.

Sounds like a win all round to me……….

  • Pluralsight have a whitepaper "KEEPING UP TO SPEED: How a new learning mindset is transforming today‚Äôs workplace" about issues like this.  They present an case for a 70:20:10 framework, where improving workplace performance happens through three kinds of activity:

    70% is experiential learning

    20% is social learning

    10% is formal learning

    The paper is an interesting read and makes some valid points about learning in the workplace.

    Regarding what employers are looking for, I guess the tables have turned and its an employers market now, they can afford to be picky if they want to be.  When hiring, I prefer a candidate who can design than simply knows a tool.  By the way, I have experienced the same outcomes as yourself on some interesting jobs that I thought I could enjoy and make a difference in.  Demonstrated experience is no longer enough if you don't have the time on the tools being asked for.

    I also take issue with workplaces that don't ask technical questions, basing determinations solely on how well a person answers behavioural and situational questions only.  I guess the assumption is the resume is all truth.  I have witnessed a decline in competency with these changes, but we are in a world of short term contracts and learning, as with loyalty, are things of the past on the job front...