Will we ever learn to train?

I enjoyed David Benady’s article on training (MW March 15). It drove home the fact that there is a growing skills gap, and the threat a downturn in the economy poses.

However, Benady’s approach brushed over one key factor affecting skills requirements today, and even assisted in fulfilling his gloomy forecasts, with his somewhat negative perspective.

Traditionally the skills deficit has been concentrated at the more junior end of the scale, and so paying for training and coping while an employee is out of the office has been easier to manage.

But because technology has introduced new processes, new channels and new marketing techniques at an unprecedented rate, the skills crisis now has an impact at all levels of marketing organisations, as more senior staff undergo training.

This is not a change that will go away – technology will continue to develop, more new processes will be introduced and the a proportion of marketing skills will always have a relatively short shelf life.

Which brings me to my final point. Benady’s article presented training as an expense to be cut rather than as an investment for the long term. Employers which fear being abandoned after making such an investment probably had their fears confirmed by the article, but there is little evidence to support the “pilfer and poach” argument.

Any human resources officer worth their salt will tell you money is not the key motivator. An employee will stay with you for the long term if the package you offer suits them – and that package should include training.

It is my prediction that organisations that invest in training will weather any financial storm. And if they ensure it forms part of an ongoing employee benefits package it will not only fund itself but save the direct and implied costs of recruiting replacement staff.

Professor Derek Holder

Managing Director

IDM

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