In Slovakia, while there is a relatively high skill level of people graduating from schools (whether high schools or universities), organisations understand the importance of training and the further education of their employees.
Training and development is not and should not be the sole responsibility of the employee - it has been (and it should be) considered a joint effort of both partners in the employment relationship. However, the topic needs further, deeper consideration. Too often there is a system or a concept of training missing. A system, which will be a support tool to the organisation's human resource strategy and subsequent business strategy, a concept of development which would be linked with other human resource activities within the particular organisation.
As an example: the other day I was a guest at a meeting concerning training and development. Though the company is a significant one among Slovak employers and it is also generous with investment in training, most of the discussion, to my disappointment, centred on the following issues: who is the lecturer? where does the training take place? Does the place serve diet or vegetarian meals? and, of course, how much does it cost and what is the cost per person?
My disappointment did not stem from a dislike of logistics, quite the opposite. However, I could not stop wondering whether they could not see the wood for the trees. Throughout the discussion, there was no link between the needs of the employees and those of the firm. There was not a single word mentioned about how either the content of the training or the participants would be chosen.
What are the needs of the company and how is it going to benefit from a workforce that undergoes such training? This seems to be just offering "training for training's sake" - a waste of both time and effort.
Taking a different approach, there was research conducted with over 20 Slovak companies and addressing up to 400 managers of various levels and fields of responsibility focusing on employee development and identifying the training needs of managers.
The respondents had to identify important job skills as well as skills they would like to acquire to perform better in their jobs. The research showed a lack of balance between training sessions offered by companies and attended by managers and the types of training managers themselves consider important for their jobs and would like to attend.
Employees feel that there is space for improvement but the gap between the current state of skills and the desired level of proficiency is not being identified and/or addressed by the employer.
These facts challenge the efficiency and effectiveness of the training programmes and show that there more attention should be paid to the planning of training and the education system in an organisation. They also point to the importance of the internal links between training and development and other human resource activities such as job analysis and design, performance appraisal, and compensation system.
Stanislava Luptáková is a lecturer at Comenius University's Faculty of Management. Her column appears monthly. Send comments or questions to Stanislava.Luptakova@fm.uniba.sk.
12. Jun 2000 at 0:00 | Stanislava Luptáková