Firms need to ad­dress skills train­ing lag

Winnipeg Free Press - Section H - - CAREERS - By Derek Sankey

CAL­GARY — At Kir­mac Col­li­sion, an auto body re­pair shop, Peter Va­jda re­al­ized the need to re­main com­pet­i­tive by mak­ing sure all of his work­ers had the best train­ing avail­able to boost pro­duc­tiv­ity and keep up with the lat­est ad­vances in tech­nol­ogy.

Va­jda and his team im­ple­mented a “lead­er­ship de­vel­op­ment pro­gram” for all of his newly hired em­ploy­ees, as well as ex­ist­ing man­agers. The pro­gram fo­cuses on lead­er­ship, ethics and “needs-based sell­ing prac­tices” us­ing a range of ed­u­ca­tional tools, such as case stud­ies and course tools.

It “al­lows us to nur­ture peo­ple who can de­liver in an in­dus­try that is heav­ily cus­tomer ser­vice-based,” Va­jda says. “We be­lieve that train­ing and learn­ing is an on­go­ing process and we place a huge pri­or­ity in equip­ping our team with ev­ery­thing they need to suc­ceed.”

It ap­pears Kir­mac may be the ex­cep­tion. Re­search shows Cana­dian com­pa­nies lag far be­hind other coun­tries when it comes to the amount of money they in­vest in their em­ploy­ees through skills train­ing.

Cana­dian em­ploy­ers slipped to 20th place in terms of the pri­or­ity em­ploy­ers place on em­ployee skills train­ing in a re­cent rank­ing. Less than 30 per cent of adult work­ers aged 25-64 re­ceived job-re­lated ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing in Canada, com­pared with 45 per cent in the U.S., show data from In­dus­try Canada and Sta­tis­tics Canada.

Canada sits be­hind the U.S., U.K., Nor­way, Ger­many and other Euro­pean coun­tries in over­all job train­ing. As a per­cent­age of over­all pay, U.S. firms spend about 50 per cent more on train­ing than Cana­dian com­pa­nies.

“The re­oc­cur­ring prob­lem that em­ploy­ers and em­ploy­ees are fac­ing is that there is a gap in the work­place in terms of ex­pec­ta­tions,” says San­dra Miles, pres­i­dent of Miles Em­ploy­ment Group in Van­cou­ver.

“Com­pa­nies are look­ing to hire em­ploy­ees with a cer­tain level of skill and knowl­edge. How­ever most com­pa­nies are not in­ject­ing the time or money into on-the-job train­ing,” she adds.

As em­ploy­ers firm up hir­ing plans for 2012, HR ex­perts say busi­nesses need to re-eval­u­ate their train­ing pro­grams or whether they even have one in place, par­tic­u­larly for new staff. It’s a key part of the re­cruit­ment process, yet of­ten over­looked by man­agers.

As long as the em­ployee has the ba­sic cre­den­tials needed to get started, they can “grow into the role” and are likely to be more loyal as a re­sult of that in­vest­ment in their skill set, Miles adds.

— For Post­media News

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