Education does not end after college – It must continue in the workplace!

March 29, 2010

In a recent post by Vivek Wadhwa of TechCrunch, the importance of workforce development practices is discussed. In previous decades, workplaces like those of the IBMs of the world put a lot of time, money and resources into educating and training staff to ensure that employees became strong contributors to the business in many different capacities. When you joined a company, it was not required that you had all of the skills already – it was assumed that through rigorous corporate training, you would acquire the knowledge needed to be successful on the job. Nowadays, workforce development has been put on the back burner. Wadhwa writes, “Gone are the days when a company would train a factory worker to become a computer programmer or offer lifelong employment. It’s all about quarterly revenue and profits now.”

So why are companies neglecting their employee’s development? Wadhwa explains “Large corporations do offer some employee training programs, but managers often discourage their workers from participating in them. Why invest in workers when there is no clear payback? After all, training requires time off, and costs the department money. And bosses fear that once their subordinates gain new skill, they will be more likely to jump ship – to a better-paying competitor.”

Contrary to all of these beliefs, recent studies of India’s workforce proves that “workforce education actually increases productivity, decreases turnover and leads to greater corporate growth.” Wadhwa and his fellow researchers released a study called, “How the Disciple became the Guru,” and I recommend checking it out. The study examines 24 of India’s largest companies and how they execute their development practices. Some of the key components of the study pertain to the areas of recruitment, new employee training, continuous training, managerial development and performance management/appraisal.

At OpenView, a Boston Venture Capital firm, Managing Partner Scott Maxwell, is very supportive of our firm members pursuing and partaking in professional development exercises. Firm members are invited to attend all of the quarterly forums that we hold for our expansion stage portfolio companies, regardless of their role within our business. Recent forums have included Market Segmentation, Content Marketing and Strategy, Capability Maturity Model for Finance, etc. Educating our portfolio companies (forums are one vehicle for this) is something that we put a huge emphasis on; success does not only come with the growth capital investment that we offer. OpenView Labs, the strategic consulting arm of the VC, has a “Lunch and Learn” every Wednesday in which we have a guest speaker (internal and/or external) come into our office and educate us on a variety of topics that are applicable to our business.

Overall, OpenView is a very intellectual atmosphere, and our management teams recognize that to make the best investments, and to offer the most effective operational support to those companies that we do invest in, we need to have a staff filled with the most competent and educated people possible. Learning doesn’t end after college – it must continue in the workplace!