Investing in training: Is it money well spent?
A CITB research study
in 2016 identified that 20% of businesses in the construction sector had skills gaps in their existing workforce, and these were not just manual trades skills; quantity surveyors, for example, reveal skills gaps for over one in four people.
A ‘skills gap’ doesn’t necessarily mean that someone has not been trained; it could equally mean that they’ve forgotten some of what they learned. Looked at another way, the return on investment of any training carried out diminishes over time.
This is not something limited to the construction sector. It’s human nature to forget things. The research study “Committed to memory” by Rebecca Rupp show that 80% of the knowledge we acquire has usually gone within a month. The core of the knowledge remains but vast chunks of it simply evaporate. Given the complexity of tasks that face architects, engineers and other construction professionals, it’s essential to constantly take on new skills; it’s equally critical not to let existing capabilities become lost.
An article on Forbes
proposes that effective learning depends on two fundamentals:
Measure the benefit
- Learning happens because of repetition
- Learning involves connecting new information to existing information
Giving employees the opportunity to learn and polish their skills makes a significant contribution to motivation. The value of building employee skills, however, must be closely understood. Simply spending money on training without measuring if it was money well spent is not a sound principle.
Trained people are more confident in their jobs. They are happier. Job satisfaction reflects on employee perceptions of what it’s like working where they work. The happier we are at work, the more productive we are. As much as the employee benefits from training, the company also needs to gain value from it. An immediate benefit is the ability to prove to clients and potential new clients that your team has the competencies (often specified in a request for proposal) to deliver the service or project the client is looking for, in exactly the way the client wants it delivered.
How can you be sure of that? How can you build an audit trail that provides proof, other than just words in a document, that your team has the right skills – that they are up-to-date and in line with new software releases or procedural requirements such as BIM Level 2 – and will ensure quality outcomes?
Measuring the value of organisational development
Our approach to organisational development assists with this challenge, by moving employees through a continual ‘wheel’ of linked phases. It starts with finding out where the knowledge or skills gaps are from within the organisation, and progresses on an individual basis to identifying what an individual in a certain role, at a certain level, might be expected to know. Appropriate learning modules can be established, learnt, then skills can be assessed.
Find the skills gaps → Provide the training → Measure its effectiveness
This process can be a real eye-opener especially when your most highly competent staff will not be fully aware of where their own gaps in capabilities are. It’s not always easy to know what it is you don’t know.
You may have had no reason to call on a certain skill or technique for a while and then when you do, you suddenly discover you’ve forgotten how to do it. The knowledge has faded, and new knowledge has probably come in. Knowing how to replace faded knowledge is key. There are three stages to our approach:
- Evaluate: Solutions like KnowledgeSmart benchmark your teams’ skills against others within the industry, which helps determine if training is needed and identifies the specific areas that need addressing. KnowledgeSmart also gives organisations the ability to test potential new recruits to establish the depth of their skills and software knowledge.
- Train: Training courses can be tailored to meet your organisation’s specific needs or you can choose from a portfolio of over 100 off-the-shelf courses. They can be delivered by Excitech’s experienced application specialists and seasoned industry consultants.
- Embed: Through Pinnacle Series e-learning processes and software, employees can focus on areas that require attention or need a refresh. They can see their progress through individual learning paths and measure their progress as they go. Individual tests through Pinnacle Series enables employees to find out what they know and identify where their gaps are.
This is a cycle that continues, bringing training and personal improvement simply and cost-effectively into daily operations, keeping the momentum of high standards, motivated employees and reduced staff turnover.
By embedding the right technologies like KnowledgeSmart and Pinnacle Series, and processes into your organisation, you can recruit the right people with the right skills and retain them with customised personal learning paths throughout their career. The more investment put into an employee, the more loyal and productive they become, providing overall benefit to the organisation.