Sri Lanka as training hub of Asia to fill the void in training and development market

Monday, 4 August 2014 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

One of the critical aspects of raising a country’s level of human competence in today’s global environment is the emphasis on training and development that is encouraged and driven across the broader spectrum of business, commerce and the public sector – in fact across the entire nation. Gone are the days when a mere academic or professional qualification can be taken as a level of competency to deliver above board – or even mere satisfactory – performance levels in the changing, enhancing and extremely competitive environment that exists in every field of human endeavour. The mindset that still exists among Sri Lankan organisations is that employees at all levels, including management cadres, are recruited on the basis of a qualification or skillset based on an academic or professional syllabus structure at a point in time and the expectation is that they will continue to add value over their tenure in the organisation. Unfortunately this is not the case. The marginal advantage that a professional qualification such as CIMA has over mere academic qualifications is that fully qualified members must demonstrate practical experience in the profession. However, even this will not suffice and hence a regime of continuing professional development (CPD) is a mandatory requirement of continued membership of such a body. Learning and competency development Learning and competency development is an ever-continuing process. Every qualification gets dated. Even the content of the best MBA program is out-dated within five years and even if the intent of such academic pursuit was to teach people how to continuously adapt and perform in a changing environment they need to be exposed to the latest thought leadership that is emerging at an exponential rate. This is where continuous training and development adds value. It must also be added that especially in countries such as Sri Lanka the rote style of learning i.e. the intent merely being to pass an exam, is a significant shortcoming that must be compensated by on-the-job training. Smarter organisations and countries have recognised that if they are to continually develop their human talent then they too must emphasise the need for relevant and contemporary training and development of their staff at all levels. Leading global organisations even tailor training programs in order to extract more value from their most important asset – human talent. They have recognised that while most assets in organisations depreciate over time, their human assets, if nurtured properly can appreciate over time. Smarter organisations are proactively measuring and monitoring the bottom line contribution of their employees based on their investment in training and development. Sri Lanka is aspiring to become a world-class player in every respect. This aspiration has never been stronger or more relevant as it is at this current juncture in its economic cycle. Yet this country significantly lags behind countries in the rest of Asia and even on the African continent. In developed nations businesses set aside about 10% of an employee’s annual cost for training and development activities. This cost is not seen as a burden or a non-value adding cost. It is seen as an investment. When will Sri Lankan business leaders adopt this thinking? Quality and content of training Admittedly there is also a concern in Sri Lanka about the quality and content of the training available. Training providers are viewed as merely chasing commercial profit outcomes alone. In some cases the content and delivery quality is questionable. What tangible and measurable benefits would accrue to the employee and the organisation? These are all valid questions. In order to make an informed judgement in respect of the many training programs on offer of late, the following are some of the considerations that must be taken into account. What is the standing and reputation of the training provider? What is the experience, background and global exposure of the trainers and presenters? Can the trainer relate to, and appropriately engage with local audiences? Some foreign presenters do not understand this important basic requirement and structure inappropriate content – even jokes that do not make sense. At what level is the training pitched? Cheap courses are not always the best, the price is indicative of the quality and reputation of the trainers. Is the training appropriate to the organisation’s needs? Will it deliver benefits to the organisation? Is it providing a global perspective and thought leadership? Human resource managers and departments also play a vital role. They must be on top of their game. HR is today more than merely a support service to hire, fire and set policy. It must also add value to organisations. The biggest value that they can add is to develop the human asset in their organisations. They therefore must work with operational managers to identify training and development requirements and proactively develop programs to achieve organisational success. Promoting Sri Lanka as training hub of Asia Virtual Edge in Sri Lanka and Leading Edge Change, Australia are collaborating to fill a much needed void in the Sri Lankan training and development market. They have already run very successful public and in-house training programs in Sri Lanka over the last two years and are looking to further enhance their product offering in the market. They are essentially focussed on thought leadership and value adding professional management training to middle and senior management levels. The main intention of this collaboration is to promote Sri Lanka as the training hub of Asia by offering training programs at a lesser cost than other training destinations while maintaining the same standards. The next program which is on Business Analytics is scheduled to be held on 4 and 5 September at the Cinnamon Grand. Details can be obtained from Leading Edge Change, Australia has been around for nearly 10 years and has conducted hundreds of public courses and in-house training across over 30 countries across Australasia, Europe, Middle East, Africa, US to extremely satisfied audiences from small to large organisations and global conglomerates. (The writer – FCMA, CGMA, MBA, GAICD – is CEO of Leading Edge Change, past Global President of CIMA and a trainer and presenter across the world.)

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