A global survey of more than 1 300 CEOs revealed that the availability of key skills is the second-biggest threat to business growth, close behind the increasing tax burden. A report issued in Business Day showed that this comes as South Africa’s government cuts mandatory grants, or reimbursements, that are paid back to companies that engage in sector education and training from 50 percent of the one percent payroll levy, to 20 percent. With this pressure, the question arises; should we be investing in skills development and management training?

Mahatma Ghandi is quoted as saying; “Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.” When people realise their own potential, and the potential of the employees they manage, real growth begins to take place. Through skills development and management training, a company’s performance is exponentially and holistically enhanced. According to Jack Welch; “An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.” Experience has shown that through effective skills development, employee commitment and responsibility are promoted. Each individual’s confidence, morale and motivation increases as managers become more skilled in reducing work environment demotivators, and people management efficiency improves. In addition to building the organisation’s overall performance, staff turnover usually reduces and the working environment is made more productive, efficient and effective. All while communication channels are improved between all levels in the organisation, a commitment to quality all round, and the desired organisation culture emerges. Unfortunately for many workplaces, this ideology remains a myth, enshrined in the pages of a management textbook, merely to inspire and create hope. However, in skilling the workforce and reducing staff turnover, the knowledge base grows and an institutional memory is created, enabling it to make better, more strategic decisions, and achieve a greater understanding of the company’s objectives. By engaging in new and innovative people management strategies, companies often enjoy improved financial efficiencies, empowering them to compete successfully in a rocky, constantly changing economy.

The challenge to employ and develop highly skilled people, proficient managers, foster high performance and create healthy margins is constantly rising and for businesses to not only survive, but also compete in even the toughest of economies, this ideology will have to become their reality. While this may be tough love in the midst of turmoil; in all development initiatives, it is essential to remember that we are ultimately skilling the Nation for the Nation; that which benefits the organisation also benefits the country and the economy.


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