In the old days, in order to become a tailor or a carpenter you only needed basic elementary education and you took an apprenticeship under a tailor who was already established in the business. You probably had to do without any wages or you even had to pay the master for the opportunity to learn the trade and the skills. Similarly, to become an accountant you had to have some minimum education and you had to find a qualified accountant to work under his (yes there used to be only male accountants in the recent old days!) supervision and gradually become a member of a professional body of accountants or auditors.
Things have changed and the training for such jobs has become somewhat separated from the actual job. People now go to high school and universities to obtain accounting (or fabric for tailors) degrees before they go to actually practise the profession. And they probably ask for a salary too! However, they and their prospective employers know that learning is not finished with the academic qualification. Training on the job and probably training to become qualified and a member of the profession’s association is needed.
So if at work you needed to analyse financial statements of your client as part of your audit review and you have not had the luck to have the subject Financial Statements Analysis (FSA) or if you had but you remember nothing practical from those two lectures, then you feel all alone! Or you seek the help of your team. Or you go and buy a training programme or you are told by your team leader to give the task to someone else and wait until you attend the next training opportunity within the firm.
There has been and still there is a tendency for skills to be learned in a closed room with the hope that these skills will be taken to the workplace and applied on engagements! Large firms pool staff seasonally and train them intensively in cheap locations, probably give them tests for evaluation and then send them back to work. Smaller firms send staff to training providers that pool trainees from various clients in cheap locations and train them in a similar fashion. Often, the only useful outcome will be the CPD credits awarded!
Is this old way of providing skills good enough for our modern age?
Technological advancements mean that it is increasingly possible and effective to embed professional training back in the workplace, ensuring that staff are learning what is relevant to them, skilling up at the same time, at a pace that suits them, and all at unbelievably low cost. Think about it:
Trainers should be professionally trained to deliver exactly what the individual really needs and not what we think the group needs. The individual, then, should expect nothing less than training tailored to their needs that helps them achieve their professional objectives. Time spent on training should be maximized for both the trainer and the individual: your professional development has to fit around the demands of your job and career, and there is no reason why technology cannot deliver on this.
Useful training delivers what the trainee needs to fulfil the task at work – it cannot be just good. This means that training is more of a skilling up rather than a memory-test of principles and rules – this is what training and development have to be about, now more than ever. We think it also has to be motivating, as it is the trainee that needs it and asked for it in order to meet objectives that are clear and in the process of being achieved.
Progression is thus more objectively measured, making trainees really feel part of a team that is supportive and pleasant to work with, never feeling that they are alone. A real culture of learning is infectious, at every level of the organization up to and including the board of directors. On-demand access to resources – a combination of training materials, customized resources and feedback, a tutor hotline – is part of this culture of learning and development.
Introducing my Helpline
Our latest innovation – my Helpline, in cooperation with IFRS Box – is our boldest step forward towards skills provision that truly empowers every professional to be their best self at work, skilling them up to exactly the detail that is needed. Most importantly, it delivers this directly, tailored to the professional’s needs.
It’s more than self-directed learning or ‘learning on the job’ – this is about self-directed development with the professional firmly in control. Gaps in knowledge or skills will not be frowned upon anymore, but will rather be seen as opportunities: to maximise learning and to set off a culture of learning within the organization.
Technology is here to help us achieve this idea of true continuous learning as part and parcel of your professional development.