Training is NOT Development

There is no doubt that in today’s fast changing work environments and markets, workforce development is crucial for both organizations and employees success and survival. This is reflected in the increased budgets and spending on employee’s development and training across government, federal and private organizations in the Middle East region.

However, even with higher spending, organizations struggle with having skilled management teams and effective leadership.

There are two things missing. The first factor is that we (both the learning & development professionals and the managers), spend most of our efforts in traditional classroom based training or instructor led training to develop employees. The second is that we are perhaps looking at developing the wrong skill sets.

To address the first factor, organizations and learning and development professionals, should look at integrating more effective and practical development methods, methods that are focused on implementation within the workplace. Research conducted by the ASTD, (The American Society of Training & Development), highlighted that only 15% of what employees learn in training actually gets implemented on the job.

A brilliant approach learning and development professionals should use to provide real workforce development opportunities is immersive learning. Immersive learning is where employees practice what they learnt in training, in a work context with feedback given for improvement. Training in this way, would mean integrating more effective development approaches outside the training room, such as on-the-job training, simulations, team or individual coaching, team discussions etc.

While working on integrating development techniques that will ensure practice and implementation on the job is an essential part of training, it is also important to consider what is being developed.

This leads us to the second factor. After working for more than 15 years in the people development industry, I found that different organizations require the same competencies, and those competencies have remained over the last 15 years, despite changes in training techniques and technology.

Three months ago, I came across a research document published in 2011 by the University of Phoenix Research Institute titled, “Future Work Skills 2020”. Whilst reading through the 10 skills for the future workforce, which include virtual collaboration, cultural competency and cognitive load management, I was astonished that we do not consider or cover any of these skills in our workforce development initiatives. Perhaps a good approach to bridge the second factor is to start integrating future competencies into workforce development training.

Maha Khatib is a Founding Partner at Learnactive. She is a Learning and Development specialist with more than 15 years of experience in the Middle East. She effectively assists individuals and organizations in building effective and memorable learning experiences linked to performance. Her success is based on a style focused on using customized learning and development practices & solutions.


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