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On the Job Training – How Far should it Go?

Recently, I’ve been writing about what it is going to take to help keep people employed in the post technology revolution economy and, in the past, I’ve touched on the subject of the type of training employees should receive and have access to from their employer.  In today’s post, I’m going to try to tie these two subjects together.

I strongly believe that the more training an employee has about their job functions the happier and more confident they are in performing their duties and, as a consequence, the better customer service they can provide based on that confidence.  The benefits to the employer are the above mentioned customer service, reduced employee turnover, greater productivity, and improved profitability.  Investment in job function training is a win-win for employee and employer.

But is just training the employee in their job functions enough these days?  I don’t think so.  Many of our team members have told me that they spend much of their non-working time trying to balance the competing priorities of life while doing what they can to move their families ahead either economically or socially.  Several have said that they feel like they don’t have the tools and knowledge to navigate in today’s world.

I see this as a failure of our education system to communicate to students the life skills that they need in today’s world.  I use the word “communicate” very specifically because the lack of skill transfer could be because the skills aren’t taught (or taught properly) to the students or the students don’t pay attention because they aren’t aware of how important these things will be later in life.

Regardless of the reason, my feeling is that our team members don’t have all the tools that they need to make life easier for them and their families.  Therefore, we are working to introduce what we call “life skills” training to our folks beginning in 2015.  The curriculum will consist of optional educational units that will cover such topics as financial planning, budgeting skills, how to negotiate the government bureaucracy of various permits, benefits, and grants, and other topics that will be applicable to their lives.   Over time, we would like to add educational components that could qualify for college credits to help those wanting to get a university degree to be able to work towards that goal.

These courses will be offered through an online curriculum using web based training and existing free college open classroom programs.  The process will be self paced, allowing team members to complete the units when they have time.   We will set up a certification system within CMSI that will reward our team members when they complete certain criteria within a designated time frame.

We realize that working in a convenience store is an entry-level job for many people.  Our ultimate goal is to provide those who want to move on to other employment opportunities with the tools and skills that they need to move up the economic ladder.  We firmly believe that if we can help make our team members successful, whether it is while they are with us or in some other endeavor, then CMSI is successful.  I can think of no better accomplishment for our team than being able to help each other reach for, and obtain, a goal that is beyond what we can offer them.