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Continuing education to sustain competitive advantage

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Workplace Wisdom

Continuing education to sustain competitive advantage

School is back in session!

June is the month when schools reopen their gates for kids in uniforms, leather shoes, and backpacks. And while most of us will associate learning with being a student in school, fact of the matter is, thousands of employees continue to learn in various settings as well.

Continuing education is a key strategy many companies use to equip their employees with new skills and knowledge. According to a 2011 study by Dr. Divina M. Edralin, a company usually spends around P1.2 million annually for training and development.

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Why spend on training and development?

For many companies, it’s a question of not only survival, but also maintaining the so-called competitive advantage, or that which makes a company better than, or at the very least, comparable to, its competitors. In a fast-paced global economy filled with flux and folly, a company must be ready to adapt at any moment. And this is where training and development comes in as a strategy.

The study cites improving work performance, enhancing creativity and problem -lving skills, as well as developing employee capability to contribute in enabling organizational flexibility to adapt to change. These are some of the reasons why companies choose to train their employees. With a well-trained workforce, an organization can more easily retain its edge, allowing the company to perform at its best.

How do we train from here?

There are numerous training methods available. These can be categorized into three broad groups: pesentation methods, hands-on methods and group building methods.

An example of the presentation method is the ever-popular lecture or seminar. New technology has made this method even more realistic than previously possible. As such, its convenience and utility make it the most popular method across industries.

Team-training (a group building method) and on-the-job training (a hands-on method) come in as second and third most popular respectively. Other examples of group training methods include cross training, action learning, and adventure learning. Other examples of hands-on training methods include simulations, apprenticeship, and observation of companies abroad.

Training can also be grouped according to content, categorizing it as either technical training or behavioral training.

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Technical training focuses on the acquisition of new skills and concepts that a particular job entails. Some examples of technical training are product designing, systems analysis and design, and product knowledge.

On the other hand, behavioral training focuses on socio-emotional and psychological skills that the workers need to effectively work in an organizational context. Some examples of behavioral training are team building, strategic leadership, and values enhancement.

Dr. Edralin states that companies tend to focus more on technical training in order to develop an innovative work force. However, it is important to create a curriculum balanced by behavioral training since culture development, especially the Vision-Mission-Values, play a strong role in guiding workers.

Currently, a firm gets to ensure the company’s continued high performance by investing in the employees.

One trend is to conduct training needs assessments, which focus on competencies to identify the needs of the employee, vis-à-vis the needs of the company. Companies provide the training programs, with both technical and behavioral components, that an employee needs.

Another trend is to give employees a sense of ownership and responsibility by making them actively participate or allowing them to take charge in planning their careers. Meanwhile, supervisors offer a supportive environment, and ample rewards, such as public recognition, for a job well done.

Ultimately, the company ends up with a pool of skilled individuals. These workers are able to give to the company only as much as the company can give them. And it is wonderful to see such a mutual bond between an organization and its workers.

 

(Miguel Agustin Francisco is an Ateneo undergraduate currently majoring in Psychology and minoring in Japanese Studies. He is also an intern at Ateneo CORD. This article was based on a study by Dr. Divina M. Edralin of De La Salle University, entitled “Training and Development Practices of Large Philippine Companies” published in Volume 17, no. 2, of the Asia Pacific Business Review in April 2011. For comments or queries, contact ateneocord@admu.edu.ph.)

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TAGS: Business, continuing education, Education, training
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