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IDM Learning Blog: Training the Workforce of the Future

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Built Not Bought: Why Training the Workforce of the Future is Everyone’s Responsibility

Author: Tom Cheesewright, an applied futurist helping global brands and industries to see what's next.

There are more people than ever before on this planet. But finding the right people for your business hasn’t got any easier.

If anything, it is tougher now, and it is only going to get harder. Those people with the right mix of skills and attitude are increasingly valuable.

People are willing to pay to get them. Inevitably, some will pay more than you can.

You can offset this by offering a better working environment. More flexibility. More fun. Beanbags, slides, table tennis. More holidays. But this can only take you so far. Even the most conservative employers are starting to open up to such ideas.

The only real answer to the current skills challenge is to increase the supply of the right people.

And the only way to do that is by investing in training. Here are five reasons why I believe every employer must take responsibility for growing the talent pool.

1. Schools and universities won’t produce the people you need

Schools and universities don’t make workers. You can question whether it is their role, but right now I hear a lot of complaints from employers. The people joining them lack some basic skills: organisation, time management, spelling and grammar, maths.

They lack good communication skills.

Their expectations are high and their work ethic low. And this is before we get into the issue of specific technical skills.

You can, and probably should, engage with the education industry to try to change this. But that takes time.

What are you going to do while you wait for change to happen?

2. New people are expensive

Recruitment costs a lot of money.

So does the onboarding process. And there is always the risk that new hires don’t work out. Upskilling your existing people is potentially both cheaper and safer.

In this age of high frequency change you will see skills becoming obsolete ever faster. Are you going accelerate your hiring to keep up?

Or are you going to maintain the skills of the people you already have?

3. It helps you keep good people

One of the most frequent objections to investing in training is that if you spend money training someone, they might leave for a better job.

Suddenly all your investment is in the hands of a competitor. The flippant rejoinder to this is that if you don’t invest in them, then they are bound to leave.

But think about this carefully: why did they leave? Because the lack of supply of talent means that the offer from another company was substantially better than what you offered. What happens if everyone starts investing in talent development?

There is more supply so the value drops. This is why this has to be an industry-wide commitment.

Once people have worked at an employer that offers great training and career development, will they really want to leave for one that doesn’t, even for a better salary?

4. People you trained are great advocates

Even if (when) people leave, there are few better advocates for your business than the people you trained.

These are likely your future clients and at worst future influencers. They are also quite likely your future employees, or freelancers.

Investing in training when they work for you the first time starts to look incredibly valuable when they’re bringing work back to you, or coming to work for you again down the line.

5. If you’re not part of the solution…

High quality training, in both transferable skills like communication and management, and in specific technical skills, should be an expectation for all employees.

The development of these skills should be an expectation of the employer. Because everyone benefits.

We should frown upon those companies that don’t invest. That don’t build this culture. Because they are burdens on the rest of the industry.

Next time you find yourself complaining about the lack of talent, ask yourself: “Am I doing enough?” The workforce of the future, and by definition, the future of this industry, is everyone’s responsibility.


This blog was written for the DMA by Tom Cheesewright.

For individual and corporate learning solutions, check out what the DMA's Institute - the IDM - has to offer, here.

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