Why Skills Training is Not Job Preparation

Dec 16, 2016

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As we expected, a major tech company says graduates of coding boot camps are not ready for the job. Training schools sprang up when the Federal government and other social engineers decided to re-skill displaced workers from the auto industry. The programs were inspired by the desire to soften the blow of the auto company bankruptcies of 2009.

Most people can learn to write code, but few learn to write well. Becoming a good developer takes more than knowledge of the code. A holistic mindset enables you to understand why you are doing something and where it fits in the program flow and models.

Skill Training is Not Job Development

Any training program that provides only skill training does not prepare you for the job. Kyle Doherty of AlphaSights wrote an insightful article on this experience. He understands that much of the learning is not in the code.

The same principle applies to many roles in every industry. Skills are a starting point. Informal learning of how things work and where they fit creates competence. Unfortunately, many employee development programs don’t support this concept.

When Collaboration Isn’t

Implementing automated talent management platforms in the cloud in the early 2000s, we often wondered what the annual development conversations would be like. Our clients wanted “collaborative” workflow, where the plan passed back and forth between the employee and manager until they agreed and signed off. When we suggested more frequent check-ins, most clients demurred. They didn’t want to put the administrative burden on managers.

We often wondered if they would actually talk. If the current trends in employee engagement are an indicator, they don’t.

We thought back to our own development, where we had a structured career path with programmed learning steps along the way. Short, casual conversations during the work day taught what we needed to know about the way things work.

Encouraging Trends in Performance and Development

We are encouraged by the current trend toward more frequent performance and development check-ins during the year, but we still wonder if vital in-the-moment conversations will happen. Only a culture of accountability in employee development will make it so.


While we can make some general recommendations about accountability, we also want to suggest a few ways current and future technology can enable those conversations.

  1. First, develop and support managers. Most are not very good at development coaching. They need your help to understand that rattling off answers will not help their people as much as taking the time to help them find their own solutions.
  2. Make accountability simple and straightforward. Long, detailed online forms will not make your talent management applications popular. Nor will the need to go to a desktop computer to log in. Make recording a development conversation possible with three or four taps on a mobile device.
  3. Implement an enterprise social networking tool. If you use Microsoft Office, Teams will soon be available. If you prefer, Slack is a highly regarded solution, as are Jive, Huddle, and many others you can read about in this Gartner Report.
  4. Take a hint from Kyle Doherty’s article on getting new employees involved in the business. Rather than sticking him in a corner to spend his entire day slaving away on code, his employer got him involved in recruiting, process improvement, sales, and marketing,
  5. Let no employee go unmentored. Even seasoned pros need a sounding board.
Pixentia is a full-service technology company dedicated to helping clients solve business problems, improve the capability of their people, and achieve better results.
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