I am a government employee who trains employees for a living. When I have my students introduce themselves at the beginning of a class, I find that the students tend to fall into two categories: employees who are attending the class because they want to learn something new, and people who are there because their boss says they have to attend the training. It always amazes me that out of the people who are attending because they want to learn something new, at least half of them tell me that they get guff from their supervisors about being away from the office for training. It’s not just my classes either; I hear this from other trainers as well.
I suppose that some people might abuse the opportunity to be away from the office. I choose to think, however, that employees are using training opportunities to better themselves and make themselves more valuable as employees. It bothers me that employees would be made to feel bad about attending training. I don’t think there is anything much worse than trying to better yourself and improve your ability to do your job, and simultaneously feel like you are letting someone else down.
I am biased. I believe that what I train (Geographic Information Systems) is a critical skill for employees of the 21st Century. Many other skills should be considered critical as well. Writing and general communication skills are also critical parts of any employee’s ability to do work. Training for these skills, and others, should be encouraged. Instead of thinking that employees are trying to get away with somethiing, we need to rethink this attitude, at an organizational level, and focus on encouraging employees to develop these and other new skills.