Employee education and training


Employee education and training

Technologies are changing very fast in today’s world. Latest technologies of yesterday have become outdated today and what is latest today will change tomorrow and newer method of production will replace the traditional methods of production of today. As new technologies have advanced, new procedures and new skills are required and there is an increasing need for skilled and highly trained employees who are able to meet these changing situations in the workplace. These changes require new job requirements and new methods of working which in turn require different combination of expertise, knowledge, and skills. In this environment of growing uncertainty, organizations are to be aware of the need for their businesses to search for new answers to the problems of productivity and quality.

As the technology advances, necessity arises for a higher level of skills from the employees of the organization. Studies have shown that there is a long term shift away from unskilled to highly skilled jobs with the advancement of the technology. However, despite this increasing requirement for highly skilled employees, there is evidence that the skills gap in some of the organizations is widening with a growing deficit in key or core skills, which does not augur well for the future for these organizations.

Education and training are essential for the development of employees’ capabilities. Both these activities are tied closely together and mutually reinforce each other in the promotion of employees’ development. These activities develop creativity, positive attitude, and a sense of responsibility and also help the employees to attain high degree of motivation. Through these activities, employees can improve their respective skills and develop a sense of fulfillment. Good-quality education, complemented by relevant training and skills development opportunities, prepare the employees for their productive lives, endowing them with the core skills which enable them to continue learning during their working lifetime.

Education and training have increasingly become the main vehicles for self-awareness, belongingness, advancement and self-fulfillment. Education and training whether acquired in the formal education system, on the job, or in a more informal way, is the key for employees in controlling their future and their personal development.

The development of employee capacity through education and training is becoming more important due to a range of changes which are affecting organizations in the present day environment. These changes (Fig 1) include (i) increasing organizational complexity, (ii) technological advances, (iii) legislation, (iv) employment levels, (v) need for higher productivity, (vi) application of behavioural science knowledge, (vii) changing social values, and ( viii) employee expectations. Training and education programmes are best developed when employees see the benefits of such programmes to them as well as to the organization.

Fig 1 Changes affecting organization

One of the features of working life of the employees today is that whatever education and training is acquired at the start, become redundant or obsolete during their working lifetime. The need to train as well as to obtain new knowledge, new skills and new attitudes has become an everyday aspect of working life of the employees. In some cases, this needs a complete change from one occupation to another, but in others it may merely be an updating process.

Definitions and the importance of employees’ education and training

Training is the systematic modification of behaviour through learning which occurs as a result of instructions, education, development and planned experience while learning is considered to be a relatively permanent change in behaviour which occurs as a result of practice or experience. Learning is defined as the process whereby employees acquire knowledge, skills and attitudes through experience, reflection, study or instructions.

Training can also be defined as a planned process to modify attitude, knowledge or skill behaviour through learning experience to achieve effective performance in an activity or range of activities. Its purpose in the work situation is to develop the abilities of the individual employee and to satisfy the current and future needs of the organization.

Education is considered as activities which aim at developing the knowledge, skills, moral values and understanding required in all aspects of life rather than a knowledge and skill relating to only a limited field of activity. The purpose of education is to provide the conditions essential for the employees to develop an understanding of the traditions and ideas influencing the society in which they live and to enable them to make a contribution to it. It involves the study of their own cultures and of the laws of nature as well as the acquisition of linguistic and other skills which are basis to learning, personal development, creativity and communication. Education is also considered as a process and a series of activities which aim at enabling an employee to assimilate and develop knowledge, skills, values and understanding which are not simply related to a narrow field of activity but allow a broad range of problems to be defined, analyzed and solved.

Training on the other hand is said to be a planned and systematic effort to modify or develop knowledge/skill/attitude through ‘learning’ experience, to achieve effective performance in an activity or range of activities. It is concerned with the obtaining of a body of knowledge and skills which can be applied directly to work of a particular type. Changing technology and patterns of work mean that employee training must be a continuous process throughout a working life.

It may be necessary that the knowledge, skills, and values acquired for one job is transferred, modified and supplemented for other jobs. If core skills common to a group of jobs can be identified, flexibility gets increased. Scope of education is broader than training. Education is the process of obtaining background knowledge or skills. It is person-, rather than job- or organization-oriented. However, Education and training have in common is that they are related in an individualist conceptualization. They concentrate on the individual and exclude more collectivist concepts of learning, such as learning in teams and organizations.

Both education and training in broad terms have contribution towards the skill development of the employees. While basic education gives employees a basis for the development of their potential, laying the foundation for employability, the initial training provides the core work skills, general knowledge, and industry based and professional competencies which facilitate the transition from education into the field of work at the work place. Lifelong learning maintains employees’ skills and competencies since work, technology and skill requirements change with time.

Equipping the employees with the skills required for the jobs of today and those of tomorrow is a strategic concern for an organization having an outlook of growth and development. Such organization needs to support robust education and training strategies to meet the challenges of fostering strong, sustainable and balanced growth. The globalization of markets is accelerating the diffusion of technology and the pace of innovation. New occupations are emerging and replacing others. Within each occupation, required skills and competencies are evolving, as the knowledge content of production processes and services is rising. A major challenge for an organization is to simultaneously enhance the responsiveness of education and training systems to these changes in skill requirements and to improve access to training and skills development.

However, in recent years many organizations have realized that in order to survive in a world which is changing very fast with new technologies, employee education and training is essential for new types of job and new forms of working which require a different combination of skills. Employee education is not only crucial for the organization but also important for its performance in the competitive environment of today. An educated and skilled workforce is essential for the effective functioning of the organization and enhances its competitiveness in the market. The organizations need to ensure that it achieves the level of skills it needs. To get it, the organization is to put in place the education and training policies and systems which facilitate the development of its employees.

Learning has emerged as response to these and other concerns since working environment has seen a shift from the traditional job-for-life, based on a paternalistic culture, to a more flexible employer-employee relationship based on a performance culture. In conjunction with this change, organizations as well as the employees are now being forced to take charge of their own continuous learning to have a different combination of skills required. The skills of employees are fundamental to the success of the organization. Today, organization and employees have a shared interest in increasing skill levels. For the organization, it helps with its aim to increase performance, and for the employee, now being forced to manage his own futures by taking charge of his own learning. It assists with maintaining and increasing his position in the organization, professional competence and future growth.

In some organizations, there is a great management support for educating and training of the employees for their development and for their adopting of new technologies and new methods of working.  However, in other organizations, training is more and less ‘ad hoc’. In such organizations it is difficult to plan and invest in employees’ education because there are strong pressures on management to decrease costs wherever possible and to deliver short term financial returns. It is also more difficult for these organizations to invest in human assets, particularly whenever the return on investment is either long-term or difficult to quantify. Such organizations have not sought to compete by long-term investment in employee development, preferring when possible to use lower skilled and lower cost labour or to recruit trained people directly from the external labour market.

The cornerstones of a policy framework of an organization for developing suitably skilled employees include (i) broad availability of good-quality education as a foundation for future training, (ii) a close matching of employees’ skills to the needs of organization and the requirements of the market, (iii) enabling employees and the organizational management to adjust to changes in technology and markets, and (iv) anticipating and preparing for the skills needs of the future. When applied successfully, this approach nurtures a virtuous circle in which more and better education and training fuels innovation, investment, economic diversification and competitiveness. This approach creates more productive and rewarding jobs. Good-quality primary and secondary education, complemented by relevant training and skills development opportunities, prepare the employees for future, endowing them with the core skills that enable them to continue learning.

Experiences of many organizations have shown that a combination of good education with quality training plays an active role towards the success of the organization. This combination of good education and quality training leads to the following.

  • It empowers employees to develop their full capacities and to seize the growth opportunities
  • It raises productivity, both of employees and of the organization
  • It contributes to boosting future innovation and development
  • It encourages organizational management to diversify and expand which creates further opportunities for the growth of the employees as well as of the organization
  • Employees growth leads to their higher earnings
  • When assessing broadly the effect of education and training, it results into increase in job opportunities and hence contributes to the reduction of unemployment in the country.

Good-quality basic education of the employees is the basic and an essential prerequisite for the development of the employees’ skills through training. Through establishment of solid bridges between education and training and skills development, organizations ensure that the employees learn the ‘right’ skills, namely those required by the evolving demands of the job, technology, environment and the organization. Close balancing between the employees’ education and their training for the development of skills is an essential requisite for the organizational management. When this balance is achieved then the employees develop the habit of self-learning which is essential for the growth of the employees as well as the organization. Dedicated policies and measures are required to facilitate this necessity of the organization.