Re-Thinking Our Certification and Training Society.

One thing I’ve noticed in the last few years across various industries and workplaces is that many workers are hampered by something this buzzword concept you always hear a lot about, “Training.” In theory it’s the be all, end all. Struggling? You need more training. Promotion? More training. Attempt to troubleshoot? More training is needed first. Want to problem solve a bit more? You need this certification. It’s a disaster and monster’s own creation. It’s become worse then just a vague buzzword.

Years ago I was looking to move up the ladder a bit as a 3rd shift stocker, at a grocery store – perhaps take on more responsibility, place some orders, do inventory, etc. My manager didn’t mind the idea, but mentioned that you needed to take some classes on the computers in the back of the store to make a bit more money and move up. I remember thinking to myself, “What and how does training courses on a computer help me better in my current role?” Obviously, it didn’t.

It wasn’t just there. I worked at a big box home improvement store with the same emphasis on training courses on a computer. None of them had anything to do with mixing paint or learning more about “wall coverings” – basically everything interior and exterior painting related. That was on top of having to meet corporate requirements to have these training courses completed by a mandated date regardless of peak hours and the season. If it didn’t get done, our managers got threatened. Our much emphasized and lauded customer service would suffer because of “training”. Yep, all that for training and to get a rubber stamp. (In hindsight, it felt like those courses were all about reducing liability risks at the store.)

To do anything outside the normal work criteria for your position or role, you must have that training – otherwise stay in your lane as it’s the safest option. It also ensures you never build that much job knowledge making you easily replaceable; just another cog in the machine. Convenient right? It’s everything that’s wrong with today’s approach to generating necessary skills for success in today’s workplace.

Now sure, I get that and why “training” is the golden bullet. In today’s liability risk-adverse workplace, a wrong answer might end up costing the company money or the wrong kind of attention. So to minimize this you are given as little room-to-work outside your box as possible. Encouraging ideas where you can take on additional responsibility, troubleshoot, or exhibit too much helpful information might be a liability issue. Can’t have that for all sorts of factors involved.

Instead you get additional training. Yep. Amazing is how great this buzzword looks great to outsiders, shareholders, the managerial class, and even customers who assume the more training you have – the better. Truth is that too many people with plenty of “training” can’t think their way out of ground level complications , troubleshoot, problem solve, or out of a card-board box for that matter. I guess that’s part of the point.

At my work I lament that there is so much more I could do, but am unable because it’s outside my “role” and I’m of course not trained for it – even though I’m already doing it and plenty more. Again, I get why but it’s frustrating and goes to show that inefficiencies are constantly perpetuated by places which keep sending out the usual corporate emails that laud and enthusiastically proclaim how much they are doing to make everything more… efficient.

Writing this, I feel somewhat irritated and irked with the way the entire “training” concept is applied these days. Is it just me? Is this something other people are starting to notice? Of course, there’s definitely a legitimate purpose and need for applicable training and improvement to one’s position, but what’s key is that actually APPLIES to what you do. Too often today, that’s just not the case.

Rant over?

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