I have argued in previous blog posts that organizations need a learning culture because training is not sufficient to develop the necessary competencies of 21rst century workers. For one thing, the learning from training events is often not transferred to the workplace. Also, formal training cannot be responsive to the kind of learning agility that is needed in the high tech, competitive world that we live in today.

Still another reason is that training doesn’t reach all the people who need it, when they need it, and how they need it. Young workers and older workers, in particular, receive very little of the formal training offered by companies.

In a blog post titled, Job Training Funds Go to Workers Who Need It Least, Liz Suman cites a report by Anthony P. Carnevale, Jeff Strohl, and Artem Gulish in which they write:

…prime-age workers are the primary recipients of formal employer-provided training. Eighty-six percent of employer spending on formal training goes toward training prime-age workers, while only 3 percent goes toward training young adults.

Clearly, training fails the workers who could benefit most from acquiring new knowledge and skills: young workers hungry to show what they can do and be valued in an organization and older workers who want to continue to contribute and postpone retirement.

Another group that training fails, is leaders and aspiring leaders. The reliance on formal leadership training High-ropes-course-58665_1280 programs has proved inadequate and misguided. Mike Hyatt makes this case in a blog post. He writes that training is “…the #1 reason leadership development fails.” He argues that leaders need to be allowed to develop over time with the help of coaches and mentors. He writes, “Don’t train leaders, coach them, mentor them, disciple them, and develop them, but please don’t attempt to train them.”

By being selective in who receives training, and where and when they receive training, by not being agile enough in face of change, and by not developing their leaders, companies are not fulfilling the implied promise to develop all of their employees.

In a learning culture, training is part of the mix of activities and processes that contribute to learning, not the primary source of knowledge and skills. In a learning culture, managers, coaches, and mentors all play a key role in helping all employees develop the competencies they need to be successful and to help their organizations be successful. 

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