Do you feel that Skills Development spend is an unavoidable burden that drains funds that could have been put to better use elsewhere? If you relate to this at all, then your Skills Development programme is probably not working for you or your employees.
Having honest and open conversations with your employees about their Skills Development needs is a crucial process to help you understand and address their needs successfully. This can help you to upskill employees in areas they are interested in and Skills Development becomes more than just an HR or legal checkbox – it becomes a way of empowering your employees and providing them with a fulfilling opportunity for advancement and growth. In the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may have identified new skills required for your business to be more adaptive and heading into the future your Skills Development programme can help you do this.
The benefits of running relevant, successful Skills Development programmes far outweigh any costs, in our experience. The opposite scenario would be to decide what skills you want in your business, and what people you want to upskill in your structure and forcing this strategy onto employees. This nearly always leads to low-motivation students, incompleted programmes, or high employee turnover for employees that were on Skills Development programmes. As the employer, you are left frustrated and reluctant to continue your Skills Development spend. However, if Skills Development programmes are strategically approached as an engaging conversation WITH each employee, your Skills Development spend would go towards highly motivated students that are determined to obtain a qualification they desire and move into a position they desire.
An additional benefit to this process of employee engagement for Skills Development is that the business owner often finds ways to expand their own in-house skills in ways they never thought of before. An employee may come with a suggestion for a qualification that your company has no need for – now. But their passion for a different path may provide you with the opportunity to grow your business in new directions and reach new markets, or even new levels of innovation inside your current operations.
In addition to these benefits, these discussions may help you provide your employees with alternative approached to their training, which they didn’t know of. This is a win-win outcome for Skills Development.
To make the most of Skills Development programmes, an inclusive approach that helps your employees feel in control of their future will yield much stronger results for individuals and your organisation. The following steps can help you change Skills Development from a legislative burden to an intangible asset:
- Before developing your Skills Development Strategy, set up meetings with the group and individual employees as a starting point for determining employee preferences on training programmes and to share with them why some methods are preferred to others based on your operational requirements.
- Once you have a clear idea of your workforce’s needs and preferences, you can start with specialist consultations – if needed, bring an external person on board to help explain the different training methods to employees such as Learnerships vs Bursaries.
- Create a comprehensive list of your employees’ training requirements and strategically map them into your business strategy for the next year or 5.
- Once you have clarity on the needs and how your business can benefit from the Skills Development options, create a Skills Development programme with an expert to guide you on the target amounts for expenditure and to ensure that your Skills Development spend will benefit your BEE level, which adds another dimension of compliance to your Skills Development spend.
- As your strategy is in place, your first priority for execution should be commitment. Consultation without following up with action would bring more harm than good to your employee relations and therefore it is important to you and your employees that the Skills Development programme is implemented professionally with the right procedures, documentation, and monitoring protocols.
Skills Development programmes are often complex, but if implemented strategically and with employee buy-in it could become one of your business’s biggest strengths as you use it to grow, build, and comply with legislation at the same time.