Continuing education from words to deeds

It’s a little joke Who Turns Amidst HR: “What happens if we train the employee and he leaves?” asks the employer. HR response: “What if we don’t train him and he stays?”

Damian* finally decided to quit his job. As a young CEO in an ever-evolving field, he quickly noticed that he lacked a certain in-depth technical knowledge to be truly effective in his position. “There was a gap between what was expected of me and what I was able to do. Then I was assigned files on less interesting topics, which were not what I was assigned for. Then I offered to enroll in CAS (Certificate of Advanced Studies). I was going to fund it and get it done. Parallel to my work at 80%. But my boss told me that the CAS was not helpful. At the same time, no one was in the office to train me.”

Training while on vacation?

Experiment complicated which made Damian think a lot. Today, he contemplates continuing education in a parallel field. This time, he is looking for a job that combines his training, and vice versa more. Because driving the two heads is difficult. “I have friends who train on their days off. But for a big internship, that means about a year without vacation. I’d rather sacrifice salary by working part-time.

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Continuing education is a huge challenge, as the world of work is changing faster and faster. However, Isabelle Chapuy, director of the Swiss Center for Positive Futures at the University of Lausanne, is not convinced that society understands its importance. The current system still thinks of life in three phases: learning, working, and enjoying your retirement. Many people imagine that a good apprenticeship or a good university is enough for life. This is completely wrong and we should be aware of it.

Once the realization is done, there are other hurdles that make these “updates” difficult: “For small businesses, having an employee in training who is absent on Fridays can present fewer difficulties that UBS or Nestlé would have,” notes Marco Tade, president of French-speaking Switzerland for the European Union Swiss employers. “In the field of employment, if you don’t have the support of an employer, it’s very complicated,” stresses Caroline Meyer, director of the ROMAND secretariat at the Swiss Confederation of Continuing Education (FSEA).

individual responsibility

In Switzerland, continuing training is governed by a federal framework law dating back to 2017. It states that it is an individual responsibility: employers “promote” the continuous training of their employees, and the federation and cantons “contribute” to its accessibility. “It is ambiguous compared to France, where employers are forced to co-finance training,” comments Caroline Mayer. Our law allows people to participate in their training, which is fine, but we also know that those who have already been trained are basically the ones who continue to do so.

If ongoing training is truly an individual responsibility, employers often realize that their company’s success depends on upgrading employees’ skills, believes Marco Tade. “Offering training is also a way to attract talent.”

According to OFS figures published this week, 45% of the population between the ages of 25 and 74 received continuing education in 2021. This is lower than during the last survey five years ago (62%). “With the coronavirus, training has been less of a priority,” Marco Tade analyzes. One-fifth of people with training spent up to 8 hours on it, 36% between 8 and 40 hours and 44% more than 40 hours over the course of the year. The disparities are between workers who train a little, a lot or not at all, but also between the cantons: Geneva, for example, has an annual training check.

In Geneva, the Geneva Industrial Services (SIG) is a forerunner. They offer 150 different in-house training courses to their approximately 1,700 employees. On the agenda: communication, collaboration, or even health and safety. Aiming to achieve 70% of employees Receive at least one training each year. “The energy sector is going through many changes with the digitization of operations,” says Aude Ribis, Director of Human Resources and Corporate Development. We have to support our employees.”

It is a real learning culture that the company seeks to develop: there are courses, from a few hours to a few days, but also other formats, such as videos made by the employees themselves. “We also try to take training out of the classroom, so that it takes place in the workplace, which is often more effective than general training, Aude Ribis develops. The impact on time is also lighter: it is always a matter of measuring the right device according to the goal.

Look beyond the costs

And when the employee expresses the need to pursue more substantive training, such as CAS or DAS (Diploma of Advanced Studies)? Aude Ribis answers: “If he has an association with doing business and enriches it, then the company supports him financially. I prefer someone who is motivated and committed to work thanks to his training over a moderate person. I don’t see training only in terms of how much time he can represent.

En ce sens, Caroline Meier encourages un partenariat plus fort entre politiques, patrons et syndicats, pour «sortir de la logique qu’une formation, c’est simplement des coûts, alors que c’est un investissement sur lequel l’entreprise est gagnante Moreover”.

But not everyone has the time (or the means) to follow DAS for two years, Carolyn Mayer admits. “To encourage more continuous training, employers and employees should also value shorter courses, such as mastering new programs, for example.” Isabelle Chaboye joins her: “The goal is for people to have skills, not certifications.”

And in terms of costs? We often overlook that many subsidies exist, and Caroline Meyer laments. In particular this: those who follow courses to prepare for a professional exam (higher) are reimbursed by the union up to 50% of the costs if they take the exam. Thus Damien discovered that there was aid in his canton for his future training. “It has an effect of course, because it is a course of several thousand francs,” he says.

According to Isabelle Chaboye, more institutional measures will also make it possible to move from rhetoric to reality. For Swiss doctors, for example, continuing education is mandatory. In Singapore, there is a system of training credits for an individual. For Switzerland, it envisions a new paradigm: “Lack of constant training can lead to human obsolescence, which is a real risk. We must provide, like unemployment insurance, some kind of skills insurance for those who are obsolete.

* Assumes first name

A blog post worth reading: New year, new challenges! And if you have embarked on continuing education?

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