According to the Conference Board of Canada, Canadian education and training is exceptionally good at producing a highly educated workforce for a relatively small, per student, investment. This includes eLearning in an online training software among other things.Yet, if we dig a little deeper into the data, we find a more complicated story. Indeed, Canada receives only a grade of C for adult participation in education due to the low rates of participation in formal and on the job training, ranking 10th out of the 15 countries surveyed. Canada ranks below a number of EU countries, the Nordic countries and the United States, barely surpassing the UK. Similarly, Statistics Canada has noted that training has actually begun declining among workers under 35, suggesting that there is little movement to redress this issue. Indeed, when compared internationally, Canadian organizations have done a poor job keeping their employees skills up to date, robbing themselves of productivity, efficiency and global competitiveness.
For all the talk in the press about a “skill shortage” it seems clear that there is just as large a training shortage that needs to be addressed. Organizations though may be worried about offering their employees too much in the way direct training for fear their human resources may take those skills and leave. Firstly, no decisions in a dynamic company should be made from fear. Secondly, deciding about your training needs based on what an employee might do rather than what your organization requires is short-sighted. Furthermore, it has been shown that employees who receive training and are given clear pathways to advancement are more likely to stay on with their employers. Thus, for all the reasons not to train, it seems clear that building your human resources is an effective way to develop an edge against your competitors, especially if they are reluctant to do so.
Firstly, organizations should work to develop a comprehensive policy to highlight training that will help their employees develop skills useful for their advancement and to enhance organizational productivity. Employers need not pay for this optional training in its entirety, but instead offer partial compensation and a clear pathway for employees demonstrating the specific value of additional education. Solving the gap is also about attracting the right kind of employees. Organizations should seek out life-long learners specifically, and identify those who enjoy learning new things for their own sake. They will be far more likely to take the educational opportunities offered to them. In terms of in-house training, the costs have never been lower for employers. Developing comprehensive e-learning and blended training programs can significantly reduce the cost of delivery and provide employees with the flexibility they need to complete the training program.
So for all the risks associated with training, it seems the risks for not training may well be greater in the long run.