Small Money and Big Training Needs

In today’s Trinidad Daily Express (14th October 2008), there is an article that speaks to the Inter-American Development Bank’s agreement to loan local companies US$6 billion. The IDB noted that the origin of economic crisis is outside of the Latin American and Caribbean region but can have potentially serious repercussions. They feel the need to protect the strides made by countries in the region to promote growth and reduce poverty.

Against this backdrop of a looming world economic crisis, companies need to be increasingly innovative in the use of scarce resources to remain viable.

How do we as Human Resource Professionals address these challenges? We have a situation where we are increasingly unable to pay market prices for talent that can hit the ground running with minimal training. Hence, we are often forced to compromise on the quality of hire and recruit the more inexperienced candidates (maybe inconsistent with our espoused people philosophy) with an intention to train to perform the job.

Then we run into another challenge: “where do we find the funds necessary to train?” One idea is to incorporate the concept of an internal faculty into the company’s training philosophy.

An internal faculty is based on using the internal employees who are experts in their fields or possess other skills and talents to train the employees with performance gaps.

HR can review the training needs assessments to determine the different interventions required and then match that with the internal skills inventory of the employees. HR can identify potential candidates for the internal faculty and provide them with guidelines, roles, expectations, outcomes, amount of volunteer time required etc. The potential candidates can then decide if they are willing to assist.

This provides an avenue for the employees to communicate and get to know each other as a networking opportunity. It also affords the experienced employees an opportunity to be recognised, showcase their knowledge and share it with other employees in a structured manner.  More importantly, it decreases the cash out flow due to training and supposedly minimises the training gap. There are some concerns with this approach as one maybe unsure about the quality of training being delivered or the manner it maybe delivered.

In addition to benefiting from the company’s internal faculty, one can also investigate offers of free training. For example, the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago provides free lectures, workshops and seminars aimed at educating the public on finance. The Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business in Trinidad has a free seminar on October 22nd 2008 entitled “The Economic Partnership Agreement”. The National Insurance Board and the Board of Inland Revenue all have free seminars on national benefits and income tax laws respectively.

If the company must seek an external vendor to provide necessary training, always negotiate group rates with agreements on key training outcomes.

Developing an Internal faculty, exploration of free sessions and skilled negotiations are just a few ways to address some of the challenges that may be coming our way or for some of us the challenges are already in our back yard.

Denise Ali

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