Skills development and the business case

Skills development can be one of the most useful tools to improve business performance if it is implemented for the right reasons.

However the motivation behind skills development in the workplace today has lost its original focus as more companies upskill staff for the tax benefits.

Do you remember when the answer to the question: “Why do you need to implement this skills development programme?” was directly linked to the purpose, strategy and core of the business, namely:
to improve job satisfaction, motivation and morale,
for career and success planning, improve productivity, improve efficiencies in processes,
build capacity to adopt new technologies & methods, enhance innovation,
employee retention, enhance company Image, risk management, and a host of additional ROI related reasons.

Today we hear the above less and less and more of, to……
meet our BBBEE and EE targets,
obtain tax benefits,
recover SD levy spend,
implement a CSI project, and the like…..

While the skills development landscape, through legislation, has necessitated that the above are incorporated into business imperatives, which may lead to the achievement of targets and financial benefits, it may well result in failed skills development projects in that learners have:
Irrelevant skill sets;
No employability (for unemployed learners),
lack of career or succession planning (for employed learners),
Disillusionment and thereby less motivation, morale,
No value add to the business.

In addition, as experienced of late, with changes to legislation in terms of mandatory and discretionary grants, tax benefits for learnerships, challenges experienced by various SETA’s internal operations resulting in delays of funding and disbursement for projects, and the like, can leave a business investing in skills development projects to find that the goal posts have moved and the planned target and/or financial benefit is no longer available to offset the spend.

While there is no argument that business is required to meet these targets and benefits, an integrated approach to clearly defining the core purpose of the skills development intervention that will result in a benefit to the learner and the business in terms of achieving to strategy is critical.

When embarking on your next skills development project, whether you start with the skills ROI or the target and financial benefit ROI, ensure that you do not embark on the one in isolation of the other. In this way you can ensure that learners, business and the community, society at large benefit from this initiative.

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