6 Reasons Foundation Skills Are Key To Success In The Workplace

15 January 2019 by Paul McElvaney

More than ever, success in the workplace depends on having the key skills to perform.  For organisations training is not only about getting the most out of its employees, but also ensuring they have the capability to cope with and thrive in the fast-changing pace of modern work.  

Success in the workplace is measured in outcomes and performance, not on what you’ve attained in the past.  Increasingly too success is about adapting to change and innovation. There’s no time or place to rest on your laurels.  It’s more about what you can do now and in the future. Foundation Skills Training recognises standards and achievement and points the way to future success.

As the name suggests, Foundation Skills provide the critical building blocks for training and learning in the workplace.  Here we’re looking at why having good, solid Foundation Skills can not only benefit the entire organisation, but also drive the personal success of individual employees across the business.The idea of a job for life seems a distant, historical fact.  Nowadays people change jobs regularly. But more than that they change career and, at a micro level, change career paths and skill sets.  This need to be flexible and to be able to embrace new areas of information and changing requirements is what underpins the concept of Foundation Skills.  The job you do now will most likely be quite different in 5 years’ time. In some instances, it may no longer exist.

Foundation Skills Training includes a variety of subject areas and topics.  It covers new and existing legislation like GDPR and Health and Safety Legislation.  It incorporates management skills like leading teams or resolving workplace conflicts.  Foundation Skills Training can equip you to act as a coach or provide performance appraisals.  It can improve and develop individual abilities such as writing and presentation skills or producing a CV.  In short, Foundation Skills are designed to increase general business literacy.

Provide the skills to keep pace

There’s been a lot of focus on the role of ICT in the transformation of individual workplaces and indeed whole industries – the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution.  But a common factor in all the industrial revolutions so far has been the place and the role of people. Artificial Intelligence may be automating some low-skilled jobs, but it’s creating jobs for people with higher order skills too.  The importance of human intelligence remains critical.

As a result, it’s important for people to have a sense of what innovation and change mean.  And, also, to understand that they can lead and control that innovation. Change management is a relatively new area of training, but it’s one of the fundamental elements of any organisation that’s looking to keep pace with the changing business world around it.  As linear progression along a single career path becomes less likely (and perhaps less desirable), so there’s the need to change tack and expertise to move into new areas. But some skills, like good communication or the ability to lead and manage, will remain crucial no matter what else changes.We’ve talked about the importance of keeping pace with change and being adept and flexible in our work.  This can only happen if we have the relevant training – in content, design and delivery – to support us. We may not always reach our goals by pursuing a straight line, but we need to have a vision to inspire and lead us on.

Foundation Skills Training must be closely aligned to an organisation’s business strategy and goals.  This is one of the key functions of leadership and awareness of how training is matched to business strategy needs to percolate through the organisation.  It needs to begin at the beginning with the onboarding of new hires. And it needs to continue in the training opportunities offered to existing staff. This mapping of training to working practices and strategic goals helps deliver the relevance that motivates and engages employees.  If they see the point of training, employees are more likely to sign up for it and engage with it. Motivation is a driver of performance and helps enhance the general skills levels across the organisation.

Recognise the success of training

For employees the success or failure of training can be measured as a simple ROI: improved performance after training versus the cost (financial and in productivity) of providing it.  But there’s also the measure of success for the employee. What has the training brought to his or her personal development? How has training allowed an employee to develop new skills, acquire a new position or move into a new field?

Increasing success for an individual is being measured formally through Continuing Professional Development (CPD) schemes and industry bodies.  It’s become a requirement in some professions that employees cannot stand still but should learn, train and improve continuously.  That helps maintain standards for businesses and industries, but it also provides recognition for employees. It’s incremental and broad-based so you don’t have to devote all your energies over years in a single area to qualify for a diploma.  CPD consists of awards that can be attained while you’re working, and which apply specifically to the job you’re doing.

The appeal of CPD for employees is the formal, shared recognition of their attainment and skills. It’s linked to career advancement.  CPD offers a pathway whether within the current organisation and beyond. The upside for employers who invest in CPD is that they acquire a motivated workforce that continues proactively to enhance its skill set.

Retain and develop talent

People may be an organisation’s greatest asset, but they also embody the greatest concern.  Organisations rightly invest in their people, but they won’t see the return on that investment if people leave.  Turnover is one of the greatest problems for any organisation that’s trying to compete in a challenging market. It’s not just that productivity dips when a person leaves and another needs to be hired and trained to take that place.  It’s also the experience and expertise that leaves with the person.

Skills Training is a critical weapon in the fight to retain and develop personnel.  Well-trained staff perform better and see the rewards and reap the benefits of moving on within the organisation.  Their example inspires others to follow and makes the workplace an attractive place to work for existing employees and new talent.  

So, you have to make sure you provide the fundamental Skills Training to address the skills deficits identified in training needs assessment and make it accessible and relevant.  Training needs to be as agile as the learner and reflect the way modern learners acquire and use information. Skills Training for the modern workplace needs to reflect the needs of 21st-century learners and move away from the rigid, formal, instructor-led, inflexible training of the past.Foundation Skills Training is broad.  New subjects are becoming core modules all the time as training seeks to keep pace with the environment it serves.  The CPD model recognises this growth and acknowledges that training needn’t mean a course or a diploma but may instead be just regular chunks of learning assessed on a frequent and repeated basis.

Ultimately, though, Skills Training needs to be close to the environment in which its learners operate.  The more you bring training into the workflow, the greater its appeal and applicability. Modern technology allows us to learn on the go and not be detained in a classroom or be the prisoner of an LMS.  

Foundation Skills need to be easily accessible to time-poor learners.  This is the greatest step to align training with business needs. Foundation Skills Training then becomes a fundamental part of working and you begin to establish a learning culture that sees your people continue to develop and improve their performance.

Foundation Skills: the key to success

Research has shown that better-trained staff perform better.  Motivated employees look to their managers for training to improve their own performance and further their career prospects.  Learners know they need to be agile in today’s marketplace, so they’re looking for the skill sets to improve their employability.  They need training that is relevant to their working environment and provides meaning.

Investing in Foundation Skills Training offers your organisation a means to deliver more motivated employees and offer them better prospects, while enhancing performance.

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Paul McElvaney
Chief Executive Officer
Paul is Learning Pool’s founder and CEO. Since 2006, he has grown the business from a modest team of 5, to the success story it is today, with 7 sites and almost 200 employees. Paul’s ambitions centre on providing world-class customer care to our 750+ global clients, driving continuous innovation through Learning Pool’s product set and nurturing the talent within his team.
Paul was awarded ‘Director of the Year’, from the Institute of Directors in 2016.
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