Relevance of Education and Training to SME Success Factors: a Follow-up

Author: Eric Allgood CMgr CAHRI MAITD

I wrote an article concerning how industry perceived the relevance of VET training and education. I received feedback concerning how the article was written from an academic viewpoint, and fair point, it was written as an academic review of VET.

In this, my follow up article, I wish to take a more practical view on how SME’s can make the most of VET training and ensure there is validation and relevance in the training their employees are receiving.

From the trainers point of view

As a trainer in the Vet sector, I am expected to make sure my student are competent in the subjects I teach. This is fine, but to ensure competency in relation to their industry and their company becomes quite restrictive when their employers are disengaged in the process. I have had numerous students explain to me that their employers are not interested in allowing them to do their project/assessments based on their company, mainly because they think the training is “a waste of time”.

If this sounds like you and you’re the SME owner/manager, then may I say to you sir/madam – bullcrap, you short-sighted fool! My students are learning how to do HR Planning, Strategic Planning, Sustainability Planning, WHS, Risk Management, Customer Service Plans, Marketing, and numerous other things. Do you REALLY believe that your business doesn’t require these things? Are you so perfect, there is no possible benefit in having new ideas and views put forth? Have you done all this training and therefore “are totally sorted”?

Now let’s look at this from a logical point of view, how much does it cost you to get an external source audit and review these things? How much does it cost you to have an employee, who knows your business and culture do it? Most VET trainers are still experts practicing in their fields; for example; I still consult in the areas of SHRM, Marketing and Operations and my hourly rate in those fields is probably a fair bit more than you are paying my student.

Now the logic: Your employee is putting together a draft plan in whatever subject, you get to read it and decide if it “has legs”, but then it gets presented to me for marking – I grade on the competency of the documents presented to me, that is; are they functional, relevant, adhere to all regulations and legislation, and follow best practice. You’re not paying me for this review, but you’re getting my expertise anyway! Yep, completely stupid concept.

From the students point of view

They work for a company that apparently holds no interest in their improved skills or value in their new found knowledge. They mention this to their trainer, and if their trainer is anything like me, they get assistance in upgrading their resume and interview skills, then move on to somewhere they will be respected.

From the SME point of view

If you’re not paying for the course, your value for money is ridiculous and you should be milking everything you can get out of it because you have someone to take much of your SME burden off you and you can suddenly concentrate ‘on the business, not in it’ stuff.

If you are paying for the course, then why would you throw your money behind educating your team to move on because you don’t respect them? You’ve done half of it right, you’re improving their skills, now the rest of it is simply to make sure every. single. thing. they learn is relevant to what you all do all day every day.

The irony

The majority of SME’s I speak to lament the fact they have nobody to share the burden with, that they are always needed to supervise everything; yet when they send people to training or find out they’re doing the training, they don’t take the extra time now to ensure they save more time, ongoing, later!

In conclusion

Training is what creates effectiveness, practice of this creates efficiency and these are the two most magic words in business. Therefore, if you have people doing training, endorse the training and make it relevant, if you’re not sure how then get them to discuss with their trainer. As a trainer, it is so disheartening to know I have many assessments sitting in a filing cabinet doing nothing when they could have been improving the business the author was employed by.

On the other side of the coin, if you still don’t want to endorse your employees training, then contact me and I can enrol you to do the training yourself because you really do need the knowledge in your organisation.