Over the umpteen years I have been working (they sometimes feel too many to mention), keeping up with the fast-pace changing of IT software has been more than a challenge, however, I was lucky enough for a number of years to work with my local college and became what was known as a flexible part-time tutor. It meant that I could work with adults who were studying IT courses such as:
- Microsoft Office Specialist
- City & Guilds
What I came to quickly realise though was that learning at the college did not always enable the students to then apply that learning direct to the jobs that they were doing outside college. We each learn differently however with already being in a business environment (rather than always having been a tutor) I soon found that tutors were fantastic at teaching the skills to pass the courses however when it came to learning how to apply those skills to jobs to be done in the workplace, my skills seemed to always be in demand for application – learning was one thing, doing was my skill. Let me give you an example of what happened to one student who challenged me with her “concern”:
A finance clerk (dealing with purchase ledger only) was tasked with creating a stock list that could be updated with quantities of incoming and outgoing stock using the FIFO (first in/first out) principle. She was not expected to concern herself with costs but quantities, dates in and dates out were important to be able to know about. The finance system she was using did not have the module for stock control and was only used for input of the purchase invoices and further analysis was then done by the accountant when stock amounts were passed to them at the year end. The finance clerk had done her ECDL at Level 2 the previous year.
ECDL covers modules of file management, word processing, spreadsheets, databases and presentation software. The finance clerk had a “comfort zone” of using word processing and spreadsheets. She had not used her skills with databases or presentation software since she had stopped her learning. Her word and spreadsheet skills had not been used other than her day to day letters and spreadsheets designed by her finance director to prepare relevant purchase invoice control reports so, to date, she had not been requested to “develop” anything of her own design.
This student had returned to the college to start her ECDL Level 3 but had already started to realise that at this level, she was struggling and she still did not see how to do her stock control spreadsheet. Once I realised what her concern was I asked her to re-look at what had been asked of her and what software she felt she could use to develop something that she could use. Spreadsheet software immediately sprang to her mind but all she recalled of her training was learning to do IF and SUM functions and she felt that this did not give her the management of information she was being tasked with. She could not remember much about what she learnt during her training because … and this is the all important message here …. she never saw how to apply it to her actual work.
Any training course will “teach” you a new skill. Applying that new skill though is where I often see a gaping hole. Training courses are wonderful to enhance your knowledge but if you then don’t use that new skill then you risk losing it – I should know – I learnt to play the violin and clarinet in my teens and was even the leader of the youth philarmonic orchestra in my local area. I took violin grades and have my music GCE. Can I read a note of music now? Can I still play the violin and clarinet – nope! I know if I set my mind to it I could pick it back up but skills learnt are skills lost if they are not relevant to the work we are doing.
So, coming back to what I am trying to bring across to companies here is that it is great wanting to give your staff the skills to do their work, however, if they are not tasked with using those skills then they can all too easily be lost.
To bring to a conclusion the story of the purchase ledger clerk above. Her and me sat together and I reminded her about VLOOKUPs as well as pivot tables and between the pair of us she was able to re-live her training and see where it could relate to her work. I believe her manager was impressed with the resulting stock control spreadsheet.
That is what I love being able to do … find a job that someone is doing in a long way, find the right software to use to enable that job to be done with a lot more ease, guide and work with the staff member to develop what is needed, help them implement what is needed and even teach them how to write it down to enable anyone else to use in the future. That person can then use that saved time to hopefully find other areas of their work for improvement.
IT Training on the job can be so much more effective than going on training courses as all too often the training given on fixed training courses will not be directly relevant to the job role of the individual but if a trainer can assess what a person’s work is, ascertain which ideal skills are required and develop training around that, you have a more effective person in their role and there is nothing to stop them still looking at formal qualifications but they will have already learnt what is necessary to get their normal admin and basic IT role requirements done in less time.
See whether or not this training approach could help develop your staff in their roles in your company? I am here to help them and you do that.