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7 foundation skills development mistakes to avoid in corporate training

Foundations skills training covers a wide variety of areas.  It can be hard to know where to focus or how to implement them in your organisation.  But they provide the basics of business literacy and are vital in the development of the people in your organisation.  

The question is really not whether you need foundation skills training, but rather how you ensure it’s effective and makes the right impact.  Here are some common mistakes to avoid and help you get the most from foundation skills.

1. Not everyone has them

Foundation skills cover many of the basics of business skills.  It’s easy, therefore, to imagine that everyone will eventually acquire them on the job by absorbing what they can from observing others or confronting challenges.  There’s no doubt that active collaboration is a powerful way to learn and that learning by doing is an effective learning strategy.  Nevertheless, if you leave training to chance, gaps will appear.  

Formal training is not just about passing tests, it’s about presenting information in a structured way so that people have the basis upon which to build.  Also, it’s about standardisation – knowing what’s the right approach when – and then further about enhancing and improving standards and translating what you’ve learned into practice.  If you want to improve performance, you need Foundation Skills.

2. Not recognising achievement

Providing training in foundation skills is a start, but there’s much more to introducing an effective training programme.  Too often training can be a tick-box exercise – for both employees and the organisation. It’s like the worst aspects of compliance training: you’ve completed the course, you’re certified and that’s that.

To avoid that problem with foundation skills it makes sense to tie them to CPD recognition.  This provides not only a sense of achievement and recognition to learners, but it also signals that what they’re learning is a transferable skill that is recognised industry-wide.

3. Don’t assume all training is created equal

There are many ways of organising and delivering training from outside courses to in-house classes to elearning.  And there are many organisations who can provide training that you can buy-in.  To get a real return on your investment in training, though, you’re going to need to evaluate what you’re getting and decide how best to apply it.

You’ll need to consider the quality of the content: who authored it and who stands over it?  Is it industry approved? Is it tied to recognised standards?  But most of all does it fully meet your organisation’s needs? You can only answer this question by conducting a training needs analysis and identifying where the gaps lie.  And you should align training to your business goals, so it’s not only filling a knowledge gap but it’s actively assisting you in pursuing business and learning objectives.

4. Provide it and they will consume it

It’s worth recalling how unattractive and ineffective training can be.  So just because you’ve identified a need from a corporate perspective doesn’t mean that your people will recognise the benefits.  To make training truly effective, you need to motivate and incentivise people to learn and make the training you deliver compelling.

CPD recognition is a start, but you need to go further in making sure your employees recognise the importance of the training they’re undertaking.  One key element is relevance.  If people see that the training applies to what they’re being asked to do and will help them do their jobs better, they’re more likely to engage with it.  Foundation skills concentrate a lot on personal development.  You should emphasise this theme and advertise the benefits of training in the career development of the people taking.

Also, pay great attention to the way training is delivered.  Does it meet the expectations of modern learners who are used to finding the information they need, in an instant, through the internet?  Does the training make use of multimedia elements to make learning more accessible and deliver greater impact?  Making use of the latest developments in ICT will make your training more relevant to a workforce that has grown up with the internet and smart devices.

5. Don’t lock training away

Accessibility and flexibility play a vital role in making training more effective.  Don’t lock your foundation skills training away in a classroom or behind an LMS.  With digital content, you can make training available on across platforms and accessible via a range of mobile devices.

Mobile learning allows people to learn on the go, where and when they want.  It enables training to move into the workflow, so that people have access to it when they need it most, at work.  But make sure your training is designed to be consumed in this way.  Employing a microlearning approach, where content is delivered in small chunks, is a good way of ensuring that information is presented in a digestible and easily-accessible format.

This approach to learning also enables learners to take control of their own training.  This supports the emphasis of foundation skills on personal development.  Modern learners are used to being in control of their learning, choosing when, where and how to discover new information.  Instead of pushing training at learners – and running the risk that they find it irrelevant or repetitive – you instead allow them to pull what they need and absorb it at their own pace.

6.  Making training a singular event

The key to foundation skills is development.  It’s a process or journey, and training needs to accompany you on it.  That means training doesn’t end when a course is completed.  Making training more freely accessible via mobile connectivity opens up the prospect of training as a support mechanism in the workplace.  It bridges the gap between formal, structured training and the more informal demand for information as the need arises.  It’s in this space that collaborative learning can happen.

To make training a continuous process, you’ll need to employ a system of evaluation to monitor its effectiveness.  You can easily track the take-up of elearning through an LMS, for example, but you’ll also need to analyse the impact of training on performance and continue to call out any gaps.

New areas are constantly being added to foundation skills as business changes.  Even existing courses will require updates.  Make sure that any training you buy in offers updates and adds new content.  Business literacy is not a fixed set of skills, but one that’s expanding as ways of doing business and the general business landscape change.  In short, you don’t just stop learning when the course ends.

7. Lacking a learning culture

For any training to be truly effective it needs to be sustainable.  Updating and evaluating what you have represents a solid start in delivering sustainability.  Ideally, though, you need something more organic.  You need to instil a learning culture.

This can start at the top with a drive to ensure that everyone in the organisation receives the fundamental training he or she needs.  Providing high-quality content in an accessible format with flexible delivery will broaden its appeal.  Tying training to business goals and offering CPD or industry-recognised accreditation provides an incentive for employees to take the training.  

But beyond those moves, you want to establish training as an integral part of working life.  It’s not just a one-off event, but something that is tied to the workplace and fully in the workflow.  Training is no longer optional or left to chance, but something that is part of the job description, available and deliverable across the organisation, and embedded in its ethos and culture.If you can avoid these mistakes, implementing foundations skills will raise the business literacy standard across your organisation.  There are solutions out there to help you.  You can, for example, adopt elearning training suites on foundation skills written by industry professionals on a wide range of subjects that are constantly added to.  You can customise the content and re-use and repurpose it across platforms and device offering performance support and bringing training into the workflow.

But you need to ensure that you’ve prepared the ground for the introduction of this training and that you can sustain it. If you can do that, you’ll make your organisation a truly attractive place to work as you look after and retain your key asset: your people. 

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