Work and Organizational Psychology: An Introduction with Attitude

By Christine E. Doyle | Go to book overview

6

Lifelong learning: Training and development

Education makes a people easy to lead but difficult to drive; easy to govern but impossible to enslave.

Lord Brougham

The only thing worse for an organization than training its people and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.

Microstation Institute Training advert

The history of training in Britain during the 20th century makes remarkably depressing reading (Hamlin, 1995). In general, it is one of a failure to provide the right skill mix in sufficient numbers for the economy. Latterly, largescale unemployment has been created because the pool of potential employees have few or obsolete "marketable skills". Hamlin believes that repeated failed attempts to improve the nation's training systems have resulted from two entrenched traditions: controlled apprenticeships and voluntarism.

Traditionally, boys leaving school learned their work skills by undertaking apprenticeships. These lasted between 5 and 7 years, during which time the apprentice was paid low wages and learned on the job, usually under the supervision of a master of the relevant craft. There were no national standards or accreditation systems apart from "time served", and the training given was of very variable quality. At the same time powerful trades union interests ensured that only those who had served their apprenticeships were able to take jobs in that particular trade. By these means the unions effectively controlled the supply of skilled workers and simultaneously operated a "closed shop" policy.

The second factor of voluntarism was based on the belief that the state should not interfere in labour relations, including training, and that such matters were not the concern of government but of industry alone. This contrasts strongly with policies in other European countries such as Germany, where there has been a strong tradition of partnership between government and industry to provide a framework of nationally agreed training procedures and standards.

In the 1970s this deeply flawed UK system began to break down. Trades unions had used their collective bargaining power to raise the wages of all,

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