In the debate on what governments, companies and individuals should do, training is rightly considered a key ingredient, especially if projected in the context of the knowledge economy and the need for continuous learning. There is no debate on this point. We all have to invest in training, soft skills, personal knowledge and in technical skills ( see Oivallus T model).
What needs to be debated (and not enough is said about it) is how it should be invested in and with what methods and instruments. While the need for training will not diminish- it is estimated that 45% of the workforce by 2030 will be affected by some form of reskilling (McKinsey) , the requirements and forms in which it is to be delivered will have to change.
In my opinion, the following points should be taken in mind:
Technological change and the speed with which the economy transforms needs and solutions means that traditional knowledge and skills are rapidly becoming obsolete. This implies that on the most useful and up-to-date training contents there is often not enough supply for the potential demand. This simply happens because those who would have the appropriate skills to train are too busy using that knowledge in the market and do not have time to devote to training.
Therefore, training tools must be very close to the point where the competence is produced and used.
Again, rapid obsolescence means that training pathways risk accumulating a further delay between the moment a learner starts the pathway and the moment he/she finishes it. There is not enough time to train the trainers. At the end of the pathway, there is a risk that the skills learned are already in low demand or not fully aligned with market needs. Training must be fast and aim at clear and visible objectives.
3)Change and Choices
The contents of training change very quickly and those who have to provide it must have a great deal of production flexibility if they want to keep up with the market. It is necessary to stimulate a continuous exchange flow between those who work on new competences and those who want to intercept them. The training demand of individuals is more and more individualised and particular, changing a lot according to situations and personal stories.It is necessary to put together a broad offer available in the catalogue. The teaching-to-learn formula or soft skills are important, but they are a necessary condition and not sufficient if you do not provide solid tools of considerable breadth and detail.
Training on technical issues can only be practised through free experimentation which is as realistic and operational as possible. Role plays and group games are fine, but there is probably nothing more realistic than trying out a service/product, making mistakes and trying again, perhaps with the guidance and example of someone more experienced.
5) Economics (Who pays for what?)
It must be clearly stated that at least part of the training provided by companies is not generally aimed at developing the general skills of the individual but at the knowledge and skills needed to perform very specific and compartmentalised tasks well.
If an individual wants to train in order to increase and enhance his or her all-round potential or to undertake robust upskilling and reskilling, he or she has to take the responsibility of choosing and probably bear part of the training costs. If he does not have the means to do so, he should be supported directly.
It is time to move away from a generalist debate and better understand the ROI of training and discuss how to do it and with what tools, if we want people to be prepared for the challenges of the future.