The development of the human resource capital is a critical issue in all organizations and institutions. Today’s Information and Communication Technology has changed the pace of business development and transactions. The competition in the business market calls for employees with the required professional profile and constant updating of knowledge, skills and competencies.
At the entry point in every organization, the interview process is expected to locate the applicants’ qualification, competencies and experience which would help execute the core business of the corporate entity. Consequently, the organization advertises vacant job positions in various ways -through newspapers and online media – to identify individuals with the needed qualification and competencies.
However, the qualification and competencies, which employees bring into the organization, cannot guarantee long-term success. With the passage of time, new technologies and more innovative ways of doing business would certainly demand fresh competencies and updating of knowledge and skills.
TRAINING ON THE JOB
A highly trained human resource capital is a great asset to both the organization and the employees. As such, both parties need to invest the required resources (time, finance etc.) to regularly update the knowledge, skills and competencies of the most important resource in the organization.
Some institutions provide financial resources to enable employees update their knowledge and skills in their professional areas. Other high performing employees are granted scholarship to undertake courses within the country or overseas.In other cases, the organization provides part-scholarship and the employees themselves pay for the remaining cost.
In the opinion of many workers, the organization should assume total responsibility for their training. They expect the organization to provide the financial resource to cover the total cost of the training, since, in their view, the training would help reposition the corporate body for quality delivery and increased profitability. However, in today’s world, where technology is forcing businesses to move at a faster pace, employees need to complement the effort of their employers and assume some responsibility for their training and development.
TAKING THE INITIATIVE
Some years ago, a young man was employed by World Vision Ghana, a Non-Governmental Organization, as Office Clerk (messenger). He worked hard to execute his job responsibilities; but he also showed keen interest in the work of Information Technology(IT) Specialists in the organization. In his spare time, he would visit the IT Department and interact with the officers. Within two years, he had learnt enough of the IT job to be promoted to the position of Information Technology Assistant. He had taken personal responsibility to train in a new professional area and this had earned him promotion to a higher job position with better remuneration.
In today’s fast advancing technological environment, it would be unfortunate for employees to think that management would always allocate financial resources to improve workers’ knowledge and skills. The reality is that many companies, eager to take advantage of market opportunities in a timely manner, find training-on-the job for certain strategic positions a longer processand more expensive. Management would therefore prefer to look for expertise which is more easily available out there on the labour market, to fill critical job positions. For example, some organizations would prefer:
Replacing a senior officer with no driving skills with a new officer who can drive.
Terminating the employment of a manager who has no computer skills and recruiting another person with similar professional profile but who has good computer skills.
THE OLD ORDER CHANGES
In the 1980s, when modern computers had started making initial entry into the labour market in Africa, an International Non-Governmental Organization in West Africa decided to move its human resources to a higher level of information processing, storage and retrieval, using the computer. The Informationand Communication Technology (ICT) Department was tasked to train all managers and senior officers to use the computer in their offices.
At that time, managers and senior officers in many organizations in West Africa had personal secretaries and a pool of typists, who took care of their secretarial work, using the manual typewriter machines.
At the beginning, the secretaries and typists made fun of the managers, thinking that the latter were joking. Later, however, a few of them, seeing the persistence of their managers, decided to learn to use the computer. They looked for computer training facilities outside the organization and began to learn the newskills at their own cost. Sometimes, during the lunch break, they practiced their skills in the organization’s Computer Department.
Soon,the support staff began to realize that the new “craze” in the organization was not a child’s play.About a year later, in line with the organization’s strategic directions,the secretarial jobs were reduced to the barest minimum. Managers were required to use the computer to process official documents. Many typists and several secretaries were served with termination letters. The secretaries who were retained were those who had taken personal responsibility to learn the computer skills.
IMPACT OF THE CHANGE
One of the typists, who had received a termination letter, stormed the office of the Human Resource Manager and shouted in an angry mood, “Now I know my enemies in this organization”.Indeed, this individual had missed the point. The computer revolution had caught up with employees who had failed to see the warning signs and therefore had underestimated their impact.
Chief Executive Officers and Senior Managers of organizations have a crucial responsibility to provide the needed resources to update the knowledge, skills and competencies of their workers who help to accomplish the core business of their corporate entities. On the other hand, employees cannot also ignore the significant global and environmental changes that are taking place around them. Today’s fast-paced information and communication technology calls for smart employees who complement the effort of their organizations and personally invest their resources in updating their professional profile, to ensure their relevance and marketability.
John S. Quaisie