Just In Time Training Has Run Out of Time

Many organizations today are facing a skills shortage. They simply cannot find people with the appropriate skills to run their businesses. As a result, they are forced to hire those that they can, and then apply skills-training to make them a worthwhile hire for the organization. This process can be thought of as a just-in-time skills training program in which the training isn’t applied until it is needed (although in 2015 / 2016, skills training is in constant demand).

The future-cast for this lack of prepared workers is that in another 10-15 years, the crisis will be a lack of prepared leaders. In order to prevent businesses (all of society, really!) from bouncing from crisis to crisis like a ball in a pin-ball machine, it’s time to address the root cause. It’s not that younger generations have suddenly lost entry level skills – it’s a result of never having learned those skills to begin with. You cannot be expected to perform something you never learned to do.What training professionals can do today, to mitigate the current skills deficiency, as well as to thwart the void of leadership in 2025 and beyond, is to rethink the idea of just-in-time training. Rather than applying skills-only-training at the time of need, develop a broader approach to preparing all individuals in the organization by teaching thinking skills.

Is it possible the mortgage meltdown could have been avoided if thoughtful people had contemplated “what could go wrong with giving people 100% financing?” in addition to knowing how to fill out a mortgage application? We think so. Is it possible that the automobile manufacturers would not have needed a bail-out if some thought had been given to the “downside” of leases (massive churning of new cars) rather than simply teaching selling skills? We think so.

It’s relatively easy to overlay thinking skills on top of job-specific training. For instance, when teaching how to prepare financial reports a discussion can be had around the topics of ethics and erroneous reporting (intentional or not), and the ramifications to the organization of inaccurate financial reports (underestimating income, miscalculating forecast, personnel balancing). When teaching business writing, there might be a research project associated with the implications of having a paper-trail or the importance of choosing words that are unambiguous. It is important to teach not only “how to,” but “what if.”

Asking learners to think deeper and wider about the skills they are learning will help them to contribute more to the organization now and in the future.