The South African workplace is rapidly transforming due to changes in values systems, increased local and international competition, latest technologies, participative management and the forever changing socio-economic environment. The Skills Development Act requires one percent of payroll to be on South African’s training and development. Organisations though on average in 2008 spent 3.43%. This shows even though training has been neglected in the past it is now becoming crucial for the success of organisations.
Employee training and development programmes are a big business in South Africa. South Africa’s employee training and development is seen as a key factor in meeting organisation’s strategic, business and operation goals. The government has also realised the importance of training and development and have passed the following acts: South African Qualifications Authority Act, No. 58 of 1995, the Skills Development Act, No. 97 of 1998 and the Skills Development Levies Act, No. 9 of 1999. These acts have gone a long way in order to sustain training and development in South Africa.
The lack of training in South Africa and HR development has resulted in lower productivity, a higher staff turnover and fear of technological advancement as employees think that they might lose their job if they do not have the necessary skills. In the current economic crunch there is also a trend for organisation to cut costs on functions that do not have a direct bearing on the generation of income. This trend though needs to be reversed if organisations are going to be able to sustain themselves in the long-run and gain a competitive advantage.
Training and development in South Africa can be seen as the way in which an organisation uses a systematic process in order to modify the knowledge, skills and behaviors of employees in order to enable them to achieve organisational objectives.
Training and development in South Africa represents a planned effort by an organisation to facilitate employee’s learning of job-related skills and behaviors. Training may occur in many forms. The two broad categories of training are on-the-job and off-the-job training and development.
On-the-job training occurs in the workplace while an employee is carrying out his duties. Trainees learn by doing; they learn continuously and over a long period of time. Advantages of on-the-job training and development include saving costs on training facilities, materials, instructors fees and the training is easily transferable to the job. The most common type of on-the-job training and development is job rotation where the organisation moves an employee from one job to another in order to learn different tasks.
Off-the-job training and development methods consist of activities that occur while an employee is not working. The aim of this method is to provide trainees with training methods that they can later use in their work environment. The two most common off-the-job training and development techniques include classroom learning and computer based training. Classroom learning can include lectures, films, audiovisual techniques and simulations (role-playing). Computer based training and development includes computer assisted instruction and web-based training. In organisations this can be useful as employees are able to work at their own pace and instructions are individualised to the specific employee. The training and development programme will also be more interactive and more complex to setup.
The purpose of training and development include:
- Improved performance – This happens when an organisation needs to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its performance. If a lack of skills has been diagnosed as the problem the organisation can fix this by introducing or maintaining a training and development programme.
- Update employee’s skills – There are numerous reasons why an employee should update his skills. There could be a technological advance and the employees has to learn a new skills or there could be a law passed by the government in which employees will have to be trained on.
- Avoid managerial obsolescence – Rapidly changing external factors makes it essential that the organisation keeps pace with the new methods and processes that will enable the organisation to remain effective.
- Solve organisational problems – Training and development is one of the important ways to solve many problems within an organisation. Personal conflicts, high levels of absenteeism, labour-management disputes, etc could be addressed in order for employees to solve problems and perform in their jobs effectively.
- Orient new employees – Organisations need to make an effort to orient new employees in their workplace. Socialisation programmes and mentoring are key training methods that enable new employee to feel at home.
- Prepare for promotion and managerial succession – In order to sustain and motivate employees organizations need to have systematic programme of career development. This will enable employees to gain promotions and grow within the organisation.