Why do we all need regular training?

There are groups of businessmen, professionals, managers, executives, housewives and individuals who regularly go and learn many new things. They attend various courses at universities, institutes, workshops, seminars, lectures, conferences etc. On the other hand, there is a much larger group of similarly occupied people who don’t believe in getting any training. Their argument is : “Now at this age and stage what is the use of training? Our days of learning and education are over when we finished our school/college. Now we have passed that age of learning. Now is the time of working, working, working. No learning.”

Should people in business, profession or job go and try to learn something new? Is training while working useful Does it add any value to a person’s abilities or performance?

Based on my own personal experiences and those of many others, I firmly believe it does. Regular training shapes and reshapes a person’s individuality like nothing else can. On-going learning process brushes us up and enhances our knowledge, skills and attitude, preparing us to take on bigger responsibilities and challenges.

Here is my argument why we all should keep learning. Always.

A typical year in a school or college has around 200 days of education. Let us assume that a graduate spends 15 years in school and college. This results in about 3,000 days of education and training. These are the formative years of our life and they build the foundation of our future. But, for most of us, real, hard, practical life does not start until we complete our studies, as we are safe inside protective shell provided by a family that takes care of all our needs.

Once the education gets over, a person enters the phase of work life. Along with the freedom to make own decisions, the responsibility to take charge of one’s own life also arrives. Real challenges of dealing with people of different types, circumstances, emotions, deadlines, stress start at this stage. In addition to the work life, a person also gets married in next few years, which brings its own demands on time, adjustment and adaptation due to changed roles and increased responsibilities. Eventually, their family expands and challenges multiply even more.

But during this expectable and natural process of changing life stages, a person generally does not have any formal or structured training to guide him/her. Whether it is a challenge at work, a problem about self-esteem or confidence, handling failures or issues in relationships, there is no obvious source where one can approach for help, forcing them to fend for themselves. Due to all this, one makes a few mistakes along the way. And hence, a lot of problems, frustrations, disappointments and confusions happen, deteriorating quality of life and mental peace. It may also result in sometimes irreversible physical health problems.

Of course, we do learn from these mistakes also, but learning from only our own mistakes limits our pace of learning to a great extent. Moreover, this limitation was earlier posed because of limitation of exposure and interaction. Now, the world has become a smaller place and there is a lot of sharing possible among people of the world. Training lets us learn from others’ mistakes also. That is a faster and smarter way of doing things in the new world order.

So, what is the solution? There are no fixed, ready made solutions to all the problems that our personal or work life poses. But, in order to equip ourselves for handling these problems, we must learn new things on a regular basis. In today’s time of rapid technology changes and fast moving trends, there is no alternative to equipping ourselves of relevant knowledge and skills. Also, the routine of life and its peculiarities, may take a toll on one’s attitude, motivation and enthusiasm also. To overcome this drain, we all must get involved with others and attend various training programmes to improve our knowledge, skills and attitude.

If we are ignorant, we may bask in the feeling of bliss, but we will have to depend on others for knowledge and skills to solve all our own problems. Outsourcing is a good management practice, but there is always a context. Nothing can be applied blindly without understanding the context. And for making sense of context, we need to go and learn. It makes a small but very important difference.

Future trends in Indian education

Today’s world is flat. Opportunity is available to everybody. Geography has become history, i.e. the constraints posed by distance have disappeared or rendered irrelevant in the connected world. In this scenario, how will be the future of education in India? Following are some of the possibilities :

Dominance of technology : With the emergence of fast and affordable technological solutions and broadband connectivity, more and more dispensing of education will happen through Internet and mobile technologies. Unfortunately, the availability of good teachers has not kept pace with the rapid pace of technology. This real scarcity of talented teachers will also enforce usage of technology to impart education, which can enhance the availability of one teacher to many students across the globe.

Increased Specialization : With the increased complexity in the world, education, too, will become more and more specialized. This will lead to a lot of degrees becoming fragmented, giving rise to focused studies in specific areas. So, one graduation will not suffice and students will have to go for more specialized courses post graduation.

Scarcity of skilled workmen : Day by day, the availability of skilled manpower is reducing in traditional vocations and crafts. E.g. less and less youngsters are going to their family vocations, which their parents followed. The new generation, empowered by education, prefers to venture into greener pastures, abandoning family’s traditional occupations. The impact of this is being visible in labor intensive industries like ready made garments. jewellery, manufacturing etc. Due to this, education will have to also cover few general skills to enable people to take care of their regular requirements. For example, people will be expected to know basic carpentry, sewing, painting, masonry, plumbing, electric work etc.

The reduction of EQ : Due to the two-dimensional world of e-Relationships and social networks today, people are always absorbed in the solitary world glued to their computer screens and mobiles and losing touch with actual human beings. This will reduce the benefits of emotional cushioning emerging out of sharing. People are going to become more and more lonely and will have less and less tolerance for intrusion to their privacy. This will lead to very serious deficit of Emotional Intelligence or EQ. The education will have to work towards filling this gap because otherwise people will find it difficult to deal with real people, because they have been used to deal with their ‘digital’ profiles only.

Globalization of education : Globalization and the blending of multiple cultures will encourage increased collaboration among the educational institutes across continents, leading to increased uniformity in education. Education will also undergo a lot of marketing, as branding of institutes will become very significant. Also, the demands of future will require students to be aware of variety of cultures, languages, challenges and opportunities of different parts the world.

Increased need of skills : In some recent surveys of graduate and post graduate Indians, some shocking facts have come up :

a) 74% of the engineers passed from Indian engineering colleges DO NOT possess skills required by the industry, i.e. they are not immediately employable without being trained by the company.

b) 90% of the graduates and post graduates from India, CANNOT write CORRECT English with reference to grammar and spellings.

In a haste to win in the race of global outsourcing business, India has compromised on the quality of education being imparted to increase quantity. The poor quality of India’s ‘educated’ manpower may pose very serious threat to the future of services industry which has become the dominant part of India’s GDP today, as competition from other emerging market countries is heating up, who have developed much superior education infrastructure.

There are lakhs of Engineers, MBAs and other degree holders coming out from hundreds of universities, without possessing the requisite basic skills to help India establish and maintain the sustainable competitive advantage in the fiercely competitive services industry. This means a lot of effort will have to be spent on skilling and re-skilling this university qualified manpower of India.

India’s population, which was a liability before a few decades has suddenly become an asset in the new global equation. But, this asset can erode or become a Non-Performing-Asset quickly if its quality is not polished through modern and relevant education and skills.