Today's economy is changing at lightning speed. Jobs that once looked secure are disappearing or being transformed overnight. While optimists would state that individuals will find new positions as the economy transforms, we are seeing that this transformation is proving more difficult for everyone especially individual employees. There are a number of reasons for this including:
Training That Does Not Meet Job Requirements:
The biggest issue for individuals is finding training that actually meets today's job requirements. While in the past there was an expectation that some on the job training would occur, there seems to be an increasing demand for individuals who can "hit the ground running". Unfortunately though today's training doesn't enable individuals to "hit the ground running".
While educational institutions have attempted to address this with co-op programs to provide real world experience, these co-op programs are not yet fully integrated into the curriculum. Indeed, many educational institutions would state that their role isn't to ensure that individuals are capable of "hitting the ground running" but that their role is to provide individuals with the tools to be mentally flexible and agile regardless of the job.
Training That Is Outdated:
In today's economy, training, particularly at established post secondary institutions, is outdated. The main difficulty lies in the fact that accredited post secondary institutions are constrained from reacting quickly to the rapidly changing environment.
Post secondary institutions usually review their curricula over years not months. While such a review schedule would have been in sync with a slower pace of technological change, today's fast moving economy makes such a pace antiquated. Today's economy moving where a trend suddenly turns into a social or business norm in a heartbeat, it is no wonder post secondary institutions are struggling to keep up.
Training That Is Expensive:
For all the technological advances made, training seems stubbornly resistant. While post-secondary institutions have integrated technology into their administrative processes, the fundamental teaching methodologies are virtually untouched.
While technology has increased convenience and reduced cost in a number of industries, the cost of training continues its upward trajectory. These increasing costs place a harsh financial burden on graduates as they deal with crippling student loans and unstable career paths.
Training That Is Overly Time Consuming:
While the world continues to move at a frenetic pace, training seems to increasingly stuck in a time warp. Accredited post secondary institutions still require students to attend four year programs even though upon completion, the skills and knowledge graduates have obtained is outdated as the newest technology or business model has been implemented and re-invented multiple times.
Not only are there fundamental structural issues with training that need to be addressed, there is the fundamental question of who is responsible for training that needs to be addressed as well.
At present, it seems that the majority of the responsibility has devolved to the already overburdened students with government accepting partial responsibility. Educators and employers seem to take a back seat. This arrangement is increasingly tenuous and unsustainable.
Students are not only lacking the skills required but they are forced to accept burdensome amounts of debt as well. Indeed, it is an unfair goalpost as the required skills not only keep changing at such a rapid pace but the minimum requirements continue grow leaving many students in perpetual debt.
So who's responsibility is it for training? In some respects, all parties need to accept some responsibility and it isn't just financial but non-financial as well. Specifically:
Students: While students have been unfairly bearing the brunt, they must accept the fact that training is a lifelong learning process and does not end with one degree. Students must understand that they will constantly be called upon to upgrade their skills in perpetuity.
The issues facing training today is borne from the success that educators have instilled in society concerning the benefit of knowledge. Unfortunately, though, training has not adapted to the increased demand. Without finding a way to reform training to make it affordable and provide the right skills needed for the economy in its current and future states, society will see economic inequality grow and innovation and progress suffer.
Government: For governments, it isn't just about throwing an increasing amount of money towards training. It is about finding a balance in terms of providing sufficient funds as well as encouraging growth and innovation without sacrificing training quality. A hard balance but one that desperately needs to be thought out.
While employers have been demanding better graduates to fill growing vacancies, they in some respects aren't putting their money where their mouths are and leaving it up to employees, governments and educators to pick up the slack. While some employers are attempting to fill the skills gap by providing their own training, others aren't stepping up to the plate.
It is more than just providing on the job training but enabling employees to pursue their training interests beyond a narrowly defined job role. Whether it is enabling more flex time to pursue a credential, employers need to do more to not only ensure the relevance of their workforce today but also ensure that their workforce is ready for the unknowns of tomorrow.
Like it or not, training needs to undergo reform and all parties must participate. Half-hearted reforms are not only unfairly burdening students but doesn't address the needs of society today or in the future. All parties must come to the table and think through solutions in a holistic manner if we are to get out of the morass that we are currently in.