When training is just a waste of money

Talking to my family the other day, we were all getting excited about our latest motivation questionnaire which Chiumento is currently developing into an app.  I asked them to be guinea pigs, and having done the questionnaire, they were intrigued by their results.  It told them what lights their fire, and they could quickly relate this to what they enjoy in work, and what by contrast turns them off.  Thank heavens, in considering their career plans this didn’t mean a volte face!

This led us into a secondary conversation about planning the right training.  Recently my daughter enrolled herself on a life saving course paying out a few hundred pounds of her hard-earned cash.  Having uncovered a job requiring life-saving skills that she could do around her university degree, she saw the opportunity to earn a bit of extra money.  Better still, the skills acquired were relevant to the paramedic sciences degree she is close to finishing, so overall it seemed a good investment.

However, when we discussed her progress (she passed), she was not impressed by her own achievement.  She had learnt during the course that only she and a handful of other participants had actually paid for the training.  The rest, it seems, were on benefits and therefore for them the course was free.

Providing free training to unemployed people was not a problem.  What she found galling was what she learnt from chatting to her fellow delegates whilst on the course.  Despite being there at taxpayers’ expense, they did not see acquiring life saving skills as a positive opportunity.  In fact, they had no intention of using the skills acquired to get a job.  Rather, they confirmed they were ‘going through the required motions’ in order to stay on benefits.

All this devalued the course and the meaning of success on it (everyone passed, including those who were inattentive, half-hearted, and demonstrated minimal competence).  Pretty demoralising for the serious course participants and for the trainers you might think.

Of those there free of charge, most were young and unemployed.  With little or no work experience, how could they know what work they might love doing?  Whether through our app or some other diagnostic, there has to be an opportunity to (a) save wasting taxpayer’s money on inappropriate training and (b) get more of our young unemployed on to courses that genuinely motivate, rather than just occupy, them.

It all points to a problem back at the Job Centre.  There appears to be a big problem in matching people to training opportunities. It seems folly to send our unemployed youngsters off on courses they don’t want to do and which, even if they complete them, brings them no closer to a job they might actually be interested in applying for.

To adapt an old adage: You can take a young person to a training course but you can’t make them want to turn it into a career. You have to find out what energises them and help turn that into a job. The result just might be a confident, happy and fulfilled young person paying taxes instead of claiming benefit.

Sarah Chiumento

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