Competitive advantage feel is achieved through the ability of utilising the particular faculties and chief capabilities of business firms and in swiftly responding to client needs and customer ideas, rather than from differentiating marketplace offerings or in accomplishing cost and quality control (Gerber & Lankshear, 2000).
Viewed in a broader angle, marketplace superiority comes about from the facility of the organisation to transform business abilities and manufacturing expertise into fundamental competencies that allow and empower corporations to bend, adjust and modify behaviour to exploit fresh business opportunities and dynamic conditions (Gerber & Lankshear, 2000). Corporate leaderships are increasingly viewing the efficient utilisation of human resources to be fundamental to the accomplishment of business success (Kozlowski & Others, 1997).
As opposed to the long-established stress on technically empowering and concrete assets, such as factories and machinery, business leaders are evermore accepting that firms can obtain distinguishing strengths and capabilities through soft methods like robustly distinct and workforce empowering working environments, work oriented management systems, and well developed employee abilities (Kozlowski & Others, 1997). Business superiority, experts argue, can be assisted and enhanced with a better skill employee force that allows firms to react to market needs concerning costs, quality, product features, and other issues.
Much of the challenges faced by HRM practitioners arise from the evolution of workforce members, who in recent years have assumed vital roles in contemporary organisations that typically operate in fast globalising, technologically transforming, and essentially knowledge dominated environments. With employees being recognised as key to organisational success, the task of utilising their capabilities for furthering organisational goals has never been more complex and demanding (Kozlowski & Others, 1997).
The provisioning of training is considered to be essential for employee development. Whilst training has long been recognised as an important tool for improving employee ability and productivity, recent developments, more specifically the growth of the knowledge economy, technological advances, and sharply increased competition have reinforced its need for the achievement of competitive advantage, leading most progressive companies to develop and implement sophisticated training and retraining programmes for their employees.
The significance and value of training has long been recognized. Consider the popular and often repeated quotation, Give a person a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a person to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. This simple but profound saying is attributed to the wisdom of Confucius who lived in the 5th century BC. Given todays business climate and the exponential growth in technology with its effect on the economy and society at large, the need for training is more pronounced than ever. (Danziger & Dunkle, 2005)
Much of the training for new employees in the current environment consists of emphasising the importance of technology, motivating them to use it to their advantage, and making them conversant and familiar with new technologies like computers, websites, and online supply chain, sales and customer relationship management. 2. Aims and Objectives The Aims and Objectives of the proposal are thus finalised as follows: Aim: To investigate the effectiveness of training in motivating employees to learn and use modern technology
Objectives: 1. To ascertain the organisational and individual benefits from imparting training to employees in areas of computers, Internet and online applications 2. To ascertain the modes of training used by companies to improve the knowledge and skills of their employees 3. To ascertain employee attitudes towards training 4. To investigate into the reasons for positive and negative employee attitudes towards new technology in areas of computers, Internet and on-line applications.
3. Literature Review The Importance of Training Management experts are in current times constantly emphasising on the importance of employee strength, calibre, and potential, for the achievement of business and profitability objectives. Marking a radical departure from the past when greater importance was placed on tangible assets like land, plant, and capital, modern managers think of employee strength to be the fundamental attribute of a business organisation (King, & Others, 2001).
Whilst management practitioners continue to be ambivalent towards the applicability of different HR theories like those espoused by the Harvard and Michigan schools, the Best Fit and Best Practice theories, and the Guest and Storey models, all experts are unanimous in their advocacy of the need for high quality training in todays fast changing business scenario (King, & Others, 2001). Training, in its most basic form can be labelled as an action that alters peoples behaviour. Whilst improvement of productivity is often termed the chief reason for imparting training, it is but one of its many advantages.
Training is necessary not just for augmentation of productivity but also to inspire and encourage workers by informing them of the importance of their functions and empowering them to operate efficiently (Danziger & Dunkle, 2005). The general benefits available from training are listed below: ¢ increased job satisfaction and morale ¢ increased motivation ¢ increased efficiencies in processes, resulting in financial gain ¢ increased capacity to adopt new technologies and methods ¢ increased innovation in strategies and products ¢ reduced employee turnover (Danziger & Dunkle, 2005)
The fundamental aim of training is to help organisations in achieving their objectives by adding value to their key resource, namely their employees. Developing employee competencies, helping people to grow and fulfil greater responsibilities, and reducing the on-job learning time of employees, training provides immense benefits to both individuals and organisations and helps by developing individual, team, group, and organisational competencies, reducing learning costs, improving operational efficiencies and attracting superior talent (King, & Others, 2001).
It increases employee commitment, helps in managing change, leads to a positive organisational culture, and helps in increasing levels of customer service (King, & Others, 2001). Much of the need for high quality and evolving training programmes arises from the needs of modern businesses to cope satisfactorily with changing customer needs, technological advances, introduction of new products, and evolution in working methods.
The success of legendary companies like Toyota (in the automobile industry), the Ritz Carlton, (in the hospitality industry) and FedEx (in the courier business) is attributed in substantial part to the quality of their training programmes and their corporate commitment to training (Statt, 2000). With many companies paying lip service to training during boom times, only to slash training budgets at the first sign of economic downturn, training programmes, experts feel, need to be carried out consistently in order to be successful.
Whilst satisfaction of training needs are far more important today than in the past because of competitive pressures for enhancement of employee efficiency, business productivity and competitive advantage, much of the training effort in modern day organisations is expended purely because of the need to keep old and new employees abreast of technological changes and developments (Statt, 2000). Technological change is now impacting every area of business life.
Although rapid technological change in the past was associated with a few industries like automobiles, pharmaceuticals and computers, its impact today is far more pervasive and far-reaching, affecting a wide spectrum of manufacturing and services in businesses as diverse as hotels, restaurants, travel agents, call centres, banks, insurance companies, BPOs, and retail shops (Statt, 2000). For many small and medium businesses all over the world, technological and operational change has been driven by increasing use of computers, advances in software, and the Internet for online applications (Driscoll, 1999).
Such is the pervasive nature of computers in todays business environment that an employee workforce without competence in the area could severely restrict the operational capabilities and competitive advantage of business firms (Driscoll, 1999). This requirement has also created a need for training in computers and has moreover spawned a huge training industry. Interest in Information Technology (IT) education grows daily due to the pervasive influence of computing and knowledge technologies. Knowledge options include training, formal education, certification, books, Internet, etc.
indeed many show interest in training as more career opportunities crop up in IT. The flexibility provided by training is certainly a major factor in this regard. (Awe, 2008) Training methods and barriers The scope and quality of workplace training in computing skills has expanded exponentially in the course of the last two decades. Virtually all modern organizations accept that a well-trained workforce is a critical success factor. American organizations spend more than $62 billion per year on formal training of their employees. It is impossible to estimate the full costs of the additional informal training that occurs.
Ability to use information and communication technologies (ICTs) is among the most important skills that many employees need. Yet there is more speculation than wellgrounded, factual knowledge about the kinds of training regarding work-related computing to which most employees are exposed. (Danziger & Dunkle, 2005) Very much a specialised function, organisational training is provided by trained in-house or external personnel. Whilst it is normal for large organisations to have their own training departments, most medium and small organisations handle their training requirements through external trainers.
Training can also be distinguished on a number of facets, two of them being the degree to which there is interaction and collaboration with others and the extent of its formality. Training for work-related computing comes in a variety of forms, ranging from formal, scheduled classroom instruction to spur-of-the-moment sessions with a co-worker to self-based trial and error efforts. Both organizations and individual workers make choices regarding the selection of training methods. (Danziger & Dunkle, 2005)
Whilst there are various methods of training, they can be divided into two basic groups, cognitive and behavioural. Trainers, as such, need to take account of the advantages and disadvantages of the two methods, as also their impact on trainees keeping their previous background and skills in mind (King, & Others, 2001). Cognitive methods are used to provide theoretical training; they are associated with achieving changes in knowledge and attitudes through the use of lectures, demonstrations, discussions, and computer based training (King, & Others, 2001).
Behavioural methods on the other hand are more suited for provisioning of practical training. Ideally suited for skill development the behavioural approach allows the trainee to behave as required through a combination of games, simulations, case studies, and role plays (King, & Others, 2001). The method by which training is provided also depends upon the requirements of the organisation, the employees who are to be trained, and upon the activities and tasks that are involved (Wentland, 2003).
The training method chosen should as such be structured to suit the target addressees, the substance, the business setting, and the training and education objective (Wentland, 2003). The optimum method should motivate trainees to become skilled, assist them to get ready for learning, allow the students to use and practice what they imbibe, help trainees absorb and pass on what they have come to know, and combine performance with other expertise (Wentland, 2003). Management Development Methods are more futuristic in nature and deal with education.
Divided into two broad segments on-the-job and off-the-job, managerial abilities are developed through coaching, mentoring, job rotation, and job instruction techniques, (on-the-job), and sensitivity training, transactional analysis, and simulation (off-the-job) exercises (Wentland, 2003). A number of barriers to the imparting of appropriate and high quality training still remain, despite the widespread understanding of its need, as also its rapid evolution in recent years (Ndahi & Gupta, 2000).
Most such barriers arise from management attitudes and approaches, with some company leaderships still viewing training as an avoidable luxury. Training also suffers because of lack of suitable training provision, financial implications and the fear of work disruption (Ndahi & Gupta, 2000). On occasions managements face training challenges because of lack of suitable courses, indecisiveness on whom to train, the lack of workers to fill up when employees go on training and similar other issues (Ndahi & Gupta, 2000). 4.
Methodological Approach Taking account of the aims and objectives of the research assignment, along with the information obtained in the course of the literature review, the research questions are determined as under: ¢ What are the benefits likely to accrue to companies and individuals from training programmes? ¢ What are the most important hurdles to successful imparting of training? ¢ How can barriers to training be overcome, especially in the context of modern skill requirements in areas of computers and the Internet?
Whilst the review of literature has provided significant extant material on training issues in business, the dissertation also calls for analysis of primary information from actual responses and cross validating them with the inferences reached from the literature review. There being two broad methods for analysis of primary information, namely qualitative and quantitative, the actual methodological approach will depend upon the research situation, and the aims and objectives of the dissertation proposal.
Quantitative methods are by and large used for research into the opinions and tastes of large populations and depend upon the use of tools like questionnaire based surveys, phone surveys, and email responses. There is little interaction between surveyors and respondents and corrective elements need to be built into the survey sheets and the statistical analysis methods. Qualitative methods are however used where the research is of a more subjective and interpretative nature and where answers are sought to what, how and why questions, and are thus more suitable for this dissertation (Darlington & Scott, 2002).
The advantages of qualitative research often prevail over the risk of missing the population or audience. It has a lower cost, is faster, and has an opportunity for more in depth analysis (Darlington & Scott, 2002, p 27). It is also more realistic and creates superior privacy and accurateness. The research fashions an enhanced recognition of results and data from complete small populations can be obtained through its usage (Darlington & Scott, 2002). It is proposed to get qualitative information from a company X based in Saudi Arabia.
, engaged in the distribution of newspapers, journals, and magazines. Headquartered at Riyadh, the company has offices in a number of in other Saudi Arabian cities, and is a large employer. It is proposed to get questionnaire based information from 15 % of the firms employees and conduct a detailed one to one interview with the owner of the company. The questionnaires will also need to be designed with care incorporating cross validating questions to weed out contradictions.