July 25, 2019

Why some reskilling initiatives succeed, when so many fail

According to the 2018 report on the Future of Jobs by the World Economic Forum, 51% of the workforce in Thailand has to go through some amount of reskilling. This could mean that half of the graduates in Thailand aren’t ready for the jobs they’re about to take.

So, considering the current need for reskilling and level of education, how can we, as an organisation ensure that our reskilling efforts match the skill gap our job market is currently facing? Let’s look at three possible reasons behind the pitfalls of learning that may shed some light into why most reskilling programs do not deliver the impact it promises.

First, every process of learning begins with our mindset. Individuals who need reskilling must know why they need those skills, and how it would benefit not just the organisation, but also the learner. They must go into the training course with the right intention and openness to learn and grow.

One of the problems with reskilling is that many times our training programs comes across as an enforcement of what the management wants, rather than a personal choice to learn and grow. This results in learning for the sake of it, or learning to please someone else, rather than enjoying the process of learning and growing from within.

Second, learning needs to have a specific and tangible return of investment. The reason why many of our training programs fail is because we did not set the right expectation of what we would get at the end of the program.

We put employees in training programs and expect them to come out of the programs with all the solutions and start changing the organization right away. However, when this doesn’t happen, we become disappointed and frustrated at the person and the program for not delivering up to our expectations.

The problem here isn’t the learner, but the unrealistic expectations. Before any training program, we need to know what and how much can be achieved. Then, based on individual capacity and learning style, we set specific tangible goals for every individual. Doing it this way will not only give a clear direction for the learner, but also help them evaluate themselves during the process of learning. This would drive their motivation to learn more and do better.

Third, learning isn’t a onetime event. Some organizations put employees into training programs once a year, or whenever they are already in crisis. It either becomes irrelevant to the current direction of the organization or too late for the skills to be useful in saving the organization from the crisis. Learning should always be an ongoing continuous process with proper milestones that give a clear measure of the contribution and impact of the skills learnt.

When learning becomes a part of an employee’s daily life, they start to see things differently. It helps them in building a habit of learning from the situations they face

every day. This in turn develops their thinking process to ask questions and look for answers. Learning shouldn’t just be limited to a particular online or offline course, but for example even from random interactions and communication with people and everyday tasks we manage.

Finally, learning requires a motivating role model. Every human, regardless of age, profession or position, goes through emotional ups and downs, and we all need motivation of some form to grow, professionally and personally. One crucial element in the process of motivation is having a role model. Every aspiring learner needs a role model who sets the example of a growth mindset, or a lifelong learner seeking to learn and grow every single day.

Organizations need to look within their workforce to identify if they have these role models who can set an example for others to follow. If not, they need to train and encourage people to become one, not just for personal benefit but for the benefit of others and the organization, as a whole.

Reskilling is the need of the hour, and we all agree on that. But unless we have a learning culture within the organization, no amount of reskilling will serve the ultimate purpose of learning new skills. At the end of the day, we reskill not just because we want to meet numbers and statistics, but because we believe in the idea and purpose of continuous learning and growing with time.