Investing in People

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I had a conversation recently with an old friend who has joined a new startup. His company is considering making a pretty big investment in its employees. He had remembered that I started my career at IBM some years ago and often noted how good the training was. At that time, we’re talking mid 80’s, the company invested countless hours and dollars in fairly comprehensive sales, service, and technical education. I spent the first year and half attending monthlong courses at IBM’s Atlanta and Dallas education centers. When I was back in NYC the company paid for me to take classes at the NY Institute of Finance as well.

When I graduated from college everyone I looked to for advice said to pick a company that had a good training program. Back then there were many companies in tech, finance, and consumer products that put training at the center of their pitch to join the company. Somewhere along the line companies stopped making these types of commitments to their employees. First the internal education was stopped, then the money for external tuition reimbursement dried up. Over time other cost cutting changes have made their way into business like, hoteling and telecommuting. The cost savings are easy to measure. What is more difficult to measure is the loss of productivity and loyalty when employees feel no connection to the company.

The question that gets asked by the cost conscious is, “What happens if we spend all this money on training people and they leave?” The follow up question should be, “What happens if we don’t train them and they stay?” We are entering a new industrial revolution that is coming at us like a freight train and much more quickly than educational institutions can accommodate. AI and robotics will replace many, many jobs. What new jobs will replace those lost to technology? What education will be required to obtain these new jobs and who will provide it?

Are there any companies that have outstanding in house training programs? If you know of any let us know who they are.

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