|Institute of People Development Advisor - September 2008|
In this month's issue
Professional Development for Trainers & Facilitators
The current view in management thinking across the world is that skills development should be better integrated with line management, and that skills development practitioners should play a more strategic role within workplaces. In parallel, the Department of Education is likely to require a REQV level 14 next year, as the minimum occupational requirement for practitioners in FET colleges. In both cases, the issue reflects a need for higher levels of competence amongst skills development practitioners.
Yet in South Africa, skills development is seldom taken seriously. There are many reasons for this; one being that the overwhelming majority of skills development practitioners simply do not have the competence to function at strategic levels within their organisations. This article explores some of the reasons why not, and what can be done to change this.
Quality of Skills Development Practitioner Training
There were very few programs that equipped skills development practitioners for their roles until recently; these programs were almost all at lower levels; and the knowledge base on which they drew was extremely thin.
The Van Wyk de Vries commission in 1954 institutionalised the distinction between mental and manual labour. Academic streams taught people to work with their heads, and vocational streams trained people to work with their hands. Professional programs (e.g. medicine or engineering) came closest to bridging the two.
Yet skills development is not an established profession. Unlike education, which boasts huge bodies of research and theory for every level, in every context and in every discipline, programs specifically addressing workplace training were for the most part restricted to short courses (like 3-day "train the trainer"); and commonly covered procedures and handy hints. The consequence is that the overwhelming bulk of skills development practitioners simply do not have the thinking tools required to function at strategic levels within their organisations. This point was illustrated during a RPL Pilot Project run by the Institute of People Development (IPD), where workplace trainers compared themselves to candidates who had first studied education before moving into workplace training.
One candidate reported "… in the work environment, you are put at a desk and told to do certain things, without always understanding why. The why, the thinking behind it…gives [you] confidence to innovate. This RPL process has done that for me…" Then comparing herself to a colleague, also with strong foundational competence: "[she] has like an internal fountain and she gains from this internal knowledge base; she goes there when she speaks". She spoke about never having had "a point of origin" for her own work in the same way. (IPD Report, 2005).
Scale of Skills Development Practitioner Training
Too few skills development practitioners even attended programs that were available. Most were promoted from artisan or line functions because they were good at what they did; and were sometimes only provided with 3-day courses. Compare this to the education sector, where only 8.4% of teachers have completed less than 3 years of full-time study specifically equipping them to teach.
SAQA recently registered a National Certificate in OD-ETD Practices NQF 6 for high-level skills development practitioners; but the scale of high-level skills development practitioner development is still almost non-existent.
What is to be done?
The more junior skills development practitioners we train, will never be as effective as they should be in their organisations until there are high-level skills development practitioners functioning in more strategic ways.
But high-level practitioners are simply too busy to attend full-time study; and are much more interested in role-specific competences than general education courses.
Continuous professional development programs to provide training and support to these people; allowing them to learn the theory they require, then interrogate and reconstruct their own practices through applied research projects is the only viable solution at this stage.
Skills development requires strategic leadership. South Africa is not short of leaders - now we need to develop their strategic and managerial abilities.
Limited Offer: Facilitators, Coaches & Mentors
The empowering of the workforce could either take place through formal classroom based training or by learning while we work (workplace learning). In the present economic situation and the accessibility of the new education and training environment, it is crucial to identify and train up senior and more experienced staff on how to transfer knowledge and skills in the workplace. Specialist skills and knowledge should not be lost but retained within the organisation. The Facilitation, Coaching and Mentoring programme will equip your managers for this challenge, and is scheduled for 20 - 24 October 2008 at IPD House (Midrand).
This 5-day Facilitation, Coaching & Mentoring programme equips existing or prospective facilitators, mentors or coaches with the competences to:
Contact Sylvia on (011) 315-2913 or post us a web enquiry for further information.
Public Training Schedule
For more information about all our OD-ETDP training programs, visit our website at www.peopledevelopment.co.za and embark on an exciting journey of outcomes-based learning through IPD. All programmes are available in other provinces on demand.
To download IPD House Training Center Brochure including map: click here.
|Institute of People Development - Accredited Education & Training Provider ETDP 0133|