Investment in workers’ skills makes good economic sense.
Debbie Lawrence – Focus on Buisness
When, as a business, you have the right people with the right skills, you are poised to respond and adapt to changes in the marketplace, advances in technology, and developing consumer trends. It also allows you to capitalize on opportunities and ensure stability for your employees.
According to Statistics Canada, investment in education and skills training is three times as important to economic growth as investment in physical capital.
Yet, I recently heard in a presentation by an employee of the province’s Department of Labour and Advanced Education that the average employer in our province spends $25 per employee per year on training and professional development. That is a very sad statistic.
In addition, the province’s own Workforce Strategy points to the fact that more than 60 per cent of Nova Scotians do not take part in job-related training and education.
The strategy goes on to highlight how ‘training tends to be short in duration, and not always given to workers who need it the most. Today, almost 40 per cent of Nova Scotians, including those already employed, lack the essential skills needed to work in a knowledge-based economy. That means they cannot compete for good jobs, and struggle to respond to changing job requirements in their current work.’
What I know from working with local businesses is that one of the challenges they often face with learning is the cost and accessibility of training. With tightening budgets and shrinking revenues, the reality is professional development is all too often an obvious and easy target for cutbacks.
In response to this dilemma, the provincial government, through the Department of Labour and Advanced Education, offers employers the opportunity to bring essential skills to their people through the Workplace Education Initiative. With customization of program content and the delivery of relevant curriculum that speaks to what is happening in the workplace of 2013, an employer can bring their own dedicated skills training directly onsite for their staff at a significantly reduced cost.
And for small business owners who are not large enough to warrant a program on their own, there is the opportunity to join with other small businesses to create a program fondly known as a ‘cluster program.’
For Colchester County, this is managed by Terry Hearn through the Colchester Regional Development Agency (CORDA) in partnership with the Department of Labour and Advanced Education through our regional co-ordinator, Colleen O’Connor. Other partners include the Northern Opportunities for Business Limited (NOBL) and the Truro & Colchester Chamber of Commerce.
This fall alone, CoRDA is hosting four 40-hour programs: Sales for Commissioned Sales Professionals, Social Media for Business (in both Truro and Stewiacke) and Simply Accounting. The only cost for participants is a commitment of their time and effort. In my books that makes for a great return on investment.
Ask anyone who has participated in any one of the more than 40 programs delivered by CoRDA alone over the past number of years and you will hear a common response. Most participants enter with quiet reservation and exit the program as raving fans with new knowledge, enhanced skills, increased confidence and a deepened desire to contribute their best in the workplace.
Greg Johnston, co-owner of Inglis Jewellers, has taken advantage of the Workplace Education Initiative by hosting two customized programs for his team.
He shared with me how “this investment was one of the best I ever made and it continues to make a difference in how we communicate with one another, how we create great experiences for our customers, and how we operate as a business. In a nutshell, this investment paid greater dividends than we could have ever anticipated prior to participating.”
As a teacher, I know people love to learn. I have also witnessed how the experience of being a part of one of these 40-hour programs creates a shift in the participants as they are empowered with new information and abilities. Add to that an immediate desire to apply this learning in the workplace and it is easy to see how education is a win/win for everyone.
So if you are looking to step up your game this fall, take the time to learn about the Workplace Education Initiative. Enroll in one of the programs being offered right here in our own backyard and see for yourself how smart an investment it can be for you and your employees. Registration is just a call away.
Founder and president of Abundant Living Inc., Debbie Lawrence is a life, business & career coach and author. Her column appears monthly in the Truro Daily News and on trurodaily.com.