Are Employees Ready For Life-Long Learning?

By Ron Fletcher, M.C.Inst.M.,
FCM Consulting and Marketing

Continuing education is an ongoing part of business. Technology is advancing so rapidly that people are pushed into new skills required to apply the new technology. The factory worker, with minimal education, has lost his/her ability to compete and remain in the workforce. A post graduate degree is the entry level of education required by many new economy businesses when hiring employees.

Today’s employees must continue to learn new skills and acquire knowledge if they wish to retain, or advance, their position in the workforce. Many marketers, who acquired knowledge over the past few decades, are finding themselves in an entirely new business world. Firms that once employed junior employees with the intent of training them, now want employees to come already equipped with the needed knowledge ­ and experience.

Great opportunities exist for graduates of colleges and universities, but only for the few who can demonstrate above average talents. It is not uncommon to hear about graduates that are under employed, in poorly paid jobs where they perform menial tasks. An option for many of these people is to further their education in a related field most likely to lead to a satisfying career.

Knowledge, not gold, is the currency of the new economy. Knowing how to communicate, what to communicate, and when to communicate is growing more important. The marketplace is no longer just the community in which you reside. It is routine to field inquiries from clients residing in any country of the world. Transactions are made at the click of a button via the Internet. Those who reside in your community are able to shop the world, making competition more demanding. Complicating the absence of borders, is the technology of commerce that is so new that only a few are able to capitalize.

Many colleges and universities are not equipped to teach this new way of doing business. They have neither the needed resources, nor knowledge. One way to address this challenge is for such institutions to join forces with other academic and private sector interests involved in exploring business technologies of the global marketplace. Some issues to address in continued learning are:

1. How will you, or your firm, allocate its promotional budget (i.e. what types of media to use, TV, radio, Internet, newspapers, magazines, events ­ or what combination, and in what proportions)?

2. Who is your firm trying to reach and where are they located?

3. What type of logistics is involved in the flow of distribution? (This is just as much a part of promotion as advertising).

When you deal across international borders, what issues must be faced, (i.e. tariffs, taxes, environmental issues)?

The Internet introduces many more challenges. Strategic partnerships and alliances are now placing businesses with meager budgets in the same arena with billion dollar companies. E-commerce will soon be commonplace in business, demanding secure web sites. Response time to requests for information by potential customers is already expected within hours - if not minutes. And, can we keep up with media that is in transition? Research has shown that 60% of all customers are disgruntled by experiences with merchants. Customers feel that businesses are dictating to them, and that retailers and manufacturers do not listen to their problems once the sale is completed. This issue will not pass with on-line marketing.

Many schools are unable to address the challenges brought about by the fast pace of change. Some are still teaching marketing methods used 20 years ago. This makes it more difficult for students, and people already in the work force, to select institutions or other programs for a basic education, or for continued learning opportunities.

Ron Fletcher is President of FCM Consulting & Marketing. He can be contacted by telephone at 905-853-0958, or by E-mail, [email protected],

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