So Many Options - Which Do I Choose?

By jaredshippel, 28 August, 2013

Learning and development is paramount if businesses and people are to succeed. It is that simple! What is not simple is what types of adult-based education are most appropriate; what combinations of interventions are most valuable; and what is needed most within companies from a skills perspective. These are just some of the broader issues that need to be considered when making a decision that can literally affect the entire business and potentially an industry.

Wouldn't it make sense to include several divisions within the business at some point in the process? Are businesses not getting

 the most out of their training spend by placing the full burden of decision-making on one or two people? If the decision is going to a training committee, are they fully equipped to make the correct decisions?

I began writing this blog post with these questions in mind and it all amounts to one thing, "What can I do that will make an immediate, medium and long term positive impact on my client's business, where their employees are overburdened or lack the skills and knowledge?" If you are not even attempting to try and do this then just go home. This is even truer when you are responsible for the education of employees - the lifeblood of any business.

I personally believe that a service provider has an obligation to try to understand where the challenges lie; what the client wants to achieve from any human capital or people development intervention; and to make the client aware (to the best of one's knowledge) what the best possible options are that will cause the least amount of stress with the maximum benefit. Yes! We are talking Return On Investment or ROI for those acronym junkies, of which I am one.

So where do you start? There are three questions I like to explore with my clients to get to the bottom of this.

  1. What are the legal compliance issues within your industry? This would include industry association requirements, industry-specific qualifications and codes of good practice.
  2. What are the broader compliance issues within business? Now we begin to look at Occupational Health and Safety, Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (in South Africa) and other legislation.
  3. What will make your employees more productive and your business more profitable?I purposefully like to combine two elements into one question here. You may disagree with me but I feel that productivity and profitability are closely linked and as such an integrated approach  tends to work best.

Great, once these questions are answered we have a baseline from which to approach the needs of the business broadly. Combine this with a solid training needs analysis and we are then able to drill down as to which employees need what specific skills. And at this point companies occasionally hit a snag, 

"What type of learning format and method is the most practical for my business?" 

The options are at times overwhelming? Do you run accredited or non-accredited programmes; and what accreditation am I looking for? Do I run short courses, skills programmes, learnerships, internships, apprenticeships or just send my employees to do a degree or diploma? Does my business seek accreditation to train programmes in-house or do we outsource to a private provider, a public college or just enroll them at a university?

There are a number of questions which will race through the mind of any employer, and which tend to be complicated by having to learn new language: "SETA Speak". This is composed of a number acronyms and terms that may even spawn a new job title: "learning and development translators". And for the uninitiated SETA stands for Sector

 Education Training Authority. 

Undertaking training can be a highly stressful and demanding task for a business. There is a huge amount of uncertainty and a general lack of knowledge. Quality providers will act with integrity and their client's best interests at heart. Over and above this, and these are my personal feelings, tra

ining providers need to educate their clients where necessary and work with their clients to develop integrated solutions. This is what businesses want and need, irrespective of the service or product they are buying.

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