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Dr Ngaite Mgeni is Advisory Board Member at Edify Learning Forum Africa, ELFA, a training management firm. [Courtesy]
As organisations evolve and compete for top talent, businesses must invest in their most prized possession; the workforce. Yet, there hasn’t been enough commitment to this training with studies indicating that some learning and development programmes especially in African businesses are either outdated, not responding to employees’ needs or businesses are not making convincing investments.

This is despite a yawning skills gap particularly occasioned by technological advancements disrupting the way of doing business. A recent study by Oxford Group that examined views of 1,000 workers in global organisations, 500 of whom had key management responsibilities, revealed that 60 per cent felt that leaders and staff in their organisations didn’t have requisite skills to tackle digital transformation. Now, going by how technology is shaping the future of work, those statistics offer food for thought.

Talent management is the most important human resource challenge; and in a highly competitive business environment, it is crucial to have talented as well as committed employees to attain an upper hand. Yet beyond digital skills, organisations continue to pay lip service to investment in skills that are not only key in building workplace relations and rewarding employees but which ultimately have an impact on the bottom line.

City & Guilds Group business Kineo, a leading global skills organisation, recently captured this in a study that pointed to workers unmet needs. The study that surveyed 6,500 employees and 1,300 employers across 13 markets among them Kenya, South Africa and UK found that while 79 per cent of employees expressed interest in seeing a bigger focus on training and people development in their workplace, 85 per cent were struggling to access training in their workplace.

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And in what points to a mismatch between employee needs and what the organisations offer, only 16 per cent of those surveyed found the learning and development programmes offered by their organisations effective and relevant to their growth. As a result the staff had invested in alternatives with 6 out of ten employees surveyed investing their personal time in learning, education or training activity, and 59 per cent seeking online advice, guidance or e-learning solutions.

Organisations world-wide, have acknowledged the connection between corporate learning development and business sustainability. The current trend and emphasis is on creating and designing a “learning organisation” that has acquired skill-sets in creating, interpreting, transferring, retaining and managing knowledge. Unfortunately in Africa, most organisations’ human resource, have the university academic degrees but lack the skills, abilities and attitudes to operate in the business environment.

To achieve success in Africa, in implementing the “success element” in learning processes in education and business, there is still an urgent need to change leadership behaviours and human resource management practices. This can be achieved through investing in internal and external training and capacity building. Accordingly, rating the success of organisational learning processes in Africa, it is clear that the coming of the digital era has demonstrated that Africa cannot progress further without developing leadership capabilities on a continental scale. Africa stands on the brink of a great unknown, and the new model should be on helping leaders reach a new level of success. Furthermore, creating and devoting time to honing leadership competencies remains the best investment in the future of organisational learning processes for Africa.

Such trends and dynamics in the continent have inspired the upcoming Annual Training Evaluation Compendium in Africa, conference, organised by training and management firm Edify Learning Forum Africa, to congregate players in the training, learning and development industry with a view to looking at ways of standardising systems and ensuring Africa is at par with its global peers in having learning processes that address the 21st century labour market needs.

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