Economists have identified three factors or agents of production; land, labour and capital. Some add entrepreneurship while others say the entrepreneur is in a category of his or her own as a purchaser, and organiser of the three factors.
Which of these factors is the most important? Is it land, labour or capital? Most business magnates put labour above all, because labour makes use of land and capital but land and capital are inanimate things do not impact on labour.
In the term labour, we include workers all types and skills, from unskilled workers to technicians, clerks to chief executive officers.
The people of the company are more important than its products. It is the people who bring about the products not the products that bring about the people. A company that wants to survive and remain competitive in the market must give top attention to its people, its workers through education and training.
Market trends, technologies, innovations and inventions are on the move. There is always the threat that a company’s core product will become absolute and irrelevant in the market before the time it was expected to last. To remain in business, a company’s people, technocrats and managers must for ever be adopting to changed circumstances. He is stupid to think because he got his MBA or PhD only five years ago, that he is on top of the world. A truly educated person is the one who engages in continuous learning, always trying to acquire new skills to cope with the brave new world.
Companies which want to expand rather than die should continuously update the education and skills of their workers. Some while acknowledging the need for continuously educating their force, hesitate to allocate adequate funds to training because they have seen the workers they trained getting poached by other companies. While the management’s disappointment is understandable a common axiom says “the only thing worse than training employees and losing them, is not training them and keeping them.” To keep or retain workers with absolute skills is like to continue driving a car with faulty brakes or worn tyres. You are heading for a fate.
The management that makes learning part of its corporate culture insures the corporations business from sudden collapse. The training must be directed towards clear goals such as increasing the company’s share in the market, reducing costs, increasing the quality of products and enhancing services.
The more successful corporations have extended training to customers who regularly purchase their products. They offer technical training to dealers, wholesalers and retailers. They give advice on how to script advertisements, how to treat customers and other matters which can improve the competence of their customers. Successful distributers keep on coming back to the manufacturer for restocking.
Who is to do the training? Some training is done on the job, by “sitting next to Nellie.” But this form of passing on knowledge is now regarded as inadequate and inefficient. A corporation may contract with consultants to train its people or may make arrangements with a local technical college to devise a special course to solve the corporation’s needs.
Some members of staff may attend evening classes at the company’s expense, while others may be sent to a university for a higher qualification. These days there are many institutions which offer part-time degrees and diplomas by distance learning, modules being inter-spaced with seminars lasting a month or so.
Distance learning is more popular these days than ever before. To study in the evening without quitting your job ensures continuity of service. You cannot engage in continuous learning by always attending college classes. Time and age will not stand still until you qualify.
Some corporations provide education and training to assist their staff in managing their personal life. They give instructions on finance and insurance. Others advise their staff on how to prepare for future retirement. A corporation that is keen on the welfare of its staff will have loyal employees.
Remember that no matter how well and highly qualified the people you recruit are, their skills are subject to the law of obsolescence. The best recruits are those who either on their own or with company assistance are prepared to update and adapt their skills.