Global speculation

most alluring training and development packages require us to engage with time
and space. Helen Vandevelde explains why

paradox that the best way to retain talented staff is to invest in their
employability has now passed into the mainstream of thinking among training and
development managers. The more competitive you make your employees, the greater
their incentive is to stick around for more.

insight puts a new kind of burden on to training and development managers. They
need to think beyond the immediate interests of the organisation. That means
coming up with human resource investment packages that will increase the value
of their people in the labour market. And those packages had better be more
attractive than the ones that rival companies put together.

is it done? Why, you figure out what people need next. How is the labour market
going to move? What’s going to be the next big thing?

financial circles, this sort of activity is called “speculation”. And that’s
just what training and development managers should be doing: speculating in
skills futures.

it isn’t that easy. Different market segments are moving in varied ways.

in reality, there’s never just one big thing. Not even the Internet. It’s more
a case of a number of medium-sized things coming along.

where do we look? Here are three suggestions, all linked in one way or another
to globalisation.

– Invest in people’s cross-cultural skills and experience

century will be cross-cultural. Just as currencies converge in the European
Union, so will cultural values. This will happen more slowly, but as we
participate in the same global markets as Malays and Mexicans, so will we need
to acclimatise to their value structures (as they do to ours). To work
effectively, people will need to relate well to different cultures.

– Create and extend opportunities for colleagues to work across national

could occur within your own company if it has developed an international
presence, or in collaboration with business partners overseas. If these don’t
exist (as they won’t for many small businesses), create a network just for this

number of multinational companies has grown exponentially from 7,000 in 1970 to
53,000 (with 450,000 foreign subsidiaries) in 1998. Together they account for
between 20 and 30 per cent of total world output. Any individual who wants to
make sure the value of their personal human capital doesn’t sink, can’t afford
to ignore these kinds of figures.

– Generate opportunities for people to collaborate across time zones

doesn’t mean asking them to set their alarms for three in the morning. But
another feature of the global economy is the extension of time zone relays. Work
ping-pongs from one side of the world to the other, as complementary teams take
forward projects around the clock in order to meet competitive pressures that
are driven by time.

security lies not with the organisations they work for but inside their heads.
Create the learning and experience programmes that give them confidence in
their ability to secure employment contracts should the need arise, and you
give them the best reason of all for staying with you.

final point. Training and development managers need to invest in their own
global knowledge assets too…

Vandevelde is an international conference presenter on globalisation and the
future of work, and delivers consultancy programmes including A Toolkit for
Career Management in the Global Knowledge Economy

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