HR practitioners call for increased staff training in the wake of tech disruption

Catherine Jura, Director of Learning and Development at Edify Learning Forum Africa, ELFA, the conveners of the ATECA conference delivering her speech.

Even as the global business landscape shift,  a growing number of millennium candidates enter the workforce and the fourth industrial revolution redefine the future of work, organizations have not put in place requisite measures to empower their employees with necessary skills to respond to these disruptions.

This, according to Training, Learning and Development professionals meeting in Nairobi for the inaugural Annual Training Evaluation Compendium in Africa, ATECA, conference.

The experts attending the conference further say there has not been commensurate commitment by organizations to invest resources in training their staff and finding the right and personalized learning and development programmes that their employees have expressed interest in to steer companies to the next level. With employees being the company’s most valued assets a skills mismatch could affect the overall performance of these companies and their bottom lines.

“Africa is rich in human as well as physical resources, there is consensus that we are not short of technical skills, the limitations are on how we lead our economy and development processes. To claim our space globally on the economic map, there is need to develop a new breed of leaders at different management levels and across sectors. Training cannot be overemphasized. You cannot expect the skills your employees acquired in school to still apply in a fast changing world,” said Catherine Jura Director of Learning and Development at Edify Learning Forum Africa, ELFA, the conveners of the conference.

The pioneer conference that has congregated Learning and Development industry players among them Human Resources practitioners and Training Managers in Nairobi is the first of its kind in the region. Under the theme ‘Value and Accountability in Training Management and Human Resource Development Investments,’ is seeking to deliberate on the emerging issues in the human resource field while pushing for increased investment in human capital development. It has attracted delegates from corporate, academia, Not-for-Profit, government and International Development institutions.

“Among the issues the delegates are addressing at the conference include increasing investments in training, justifying training budgets, making informed investments decisions of which training approaches to choose at the work place, building accountability structures and systems on training expenditures and creating networking opportunities between investors, innovators  and experts in the Training, learning and development industry,” said Dr. Ngaite Mgeni

The conference takes place amidst numerous reports pointing to a worrying trend where organizations, starting from top management, continue to disregard the need to invest in new skills putting them at risk of being edged out by competition. A recent study by Oxford Group dubbed ‘Leading in a digital age: A look at leaders’ skills and psychological safety in the changing world of work’ indicated that while both leaders and employees understood how valuable having the skills to navigate digital change was, the majority felt that neither they nor those around them had the skills required to do so.

Examining the views of 1000 workers in global organizations, 500 of whom had key management responsibilities, the research explored whether employees at different levels had the same or differing opinions, and whether it had an impact on the productivity and effectiveness of the organization as a whole.

60 per cent of people at all levels said that staff throughout their organization lack the skills needed to propel their business into the digital age with 94 per cent of workers saying it is the responsibility of leaders to offer digital skills development. 80 per cent of employees said leaders who have a good understanding of how to operate in a digital age are more successful and better at communicating with colleagues and clients.

“We need to understand and investigate how we measure learning and evaluation performance of if we are to get organizations to remain competitive in a fast changing world. Data and analytics offer the best way to do that,” said Kevin Yates the keynote speaker at the conference.

Another report by City & Guilds Group business Kineo, a leading global skills organization showed that the global workforce has been clamouring for more engaging, effective learning programmes with 79 per cent of employees would like to see more focus on Learning and development programmes at work.

“Organizations with first class management skills will thrive; the less well managed ones will decline and usually end up being taken over. Due to high-level competition, organizations are exploiting huge opportunities and investing in spirited strategic development in-order to grow in a dramatic way.  Hence, skills acquisition has become a major objective for the ambitious institutions,” said Catherine.

To further deepen the gospel of investment in learning, training and development organizers of the conference are now looking at bringing together delegates across Africa and the world to share experiences with the next conference scheduled for Cape Town South Africa in 2020 and Lagos Nigeria in 2021.