Even as the economy slowly lumbers its way out of recession, there has yet to be a turnaround in hiring; hence, the “jobless recovery.” A recent report by the Illinois Department of Employment Security showed unemployment continuing to rise in every region of the state. The job gains that typically follow a recession are not happening, at least not yet, making competition for available opportunities fiercer than ever.
There is little that job seekers can do about the macroeconomic forces shaping this reality, and so, the focus falls upon individual skills development. Increasingly, the jobs of today and tomorrow require more than a high school diploma, and often, more than a college degree. That has raised the importance of training and development as never before.
If it feels like “survival of the fittest” out there, that’s because it is. More than ever, it is incumbent upon individuals to continuously evaluate and enhance their skill sets to set themselves apart from the rest of the pack. Training, or retraining, can put you on par with the competition, but even then, it’s no silver bullet. It won’t guarantee a job in the short term—in this economy, nothing will—but it can certainly open doors.
And training isn’t just for the unemployed; it’s something we all must do just to keep up. Whether it’s learning how to use the features of the latest software package or brushing up one’s “soft skills,” when it comes to success in the workplace, running in place is no longer an option for the worker with an eye on his or her future.
Neither is it an option for businesses. “To sustain a competitive advantage in today’s knowledge economy,” says the American Society of Training and Development, “organizations must create a learning culture that supports employee development, a high level of engagement and opportunities to achieve higher performance…Companies that fail to invest in employees jeopardize their own success and even survival.”
For these reasons and more, the field of professional training and development is poised for continued growth. In this issue, we hear from training professionals on a broad range of issues, from the consideration of different learning styles and training delivery modes to current and future industry trends. Technology is a key thread running throughout; like its significance to society at large, its impact on workplace training and development can hardly be overstated.
Some things cannot be taught—drive, ambition, vision and creativity, for example—but even such intangibles can be sharpened with focused efforts. That may include an online course or seminar, or it may be as simple as picking up a copy of Good to Great or Getting Things Done. But no matter how you learn, the concept of learning as a lifelong process is ever more critical to success.
So what are you doing to improve your own skills, or the skills of your employees? Are you just muddling through…or are you setting the stage for future opportunities? Take a look at your toolbox of skills today so that you can be ready for the change that’s coming tomorrow. iBi