Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Training budgets are so 2010

There has been a great deal of speculation about what effect cuts to library services will have on training budgets. Many people think that it will range from bad to catastrophic - but I see no point in being so optimistic.

The point is that training budgets are so last year darling! The idea that there is a certain sum of money set aside by libraries to provide for the training needs of staff is not only outmoded it is positively dangerous.

For too many librarians, training is seen as part of something called Continuing Professional Development. The idea is that each year you have an appraisal interview with your staff so see how they are doing. As part of this you ask them to identify their training needs - hat they would like to do to develop their skills and knowledge. You then make a list of these needs and see how much can be covered from the training budget. You then go shopping to see which of these needs can be met from the programmes offered by training providers.

The trouble now is that library budgets are being slashed and anything left in a "training budget" is likely to be minute. However, this misses the point. Training budgets are a waste of time. They should be abolished and the money moved to a central library budget. CPD is dead.

What libraries need to do is to ask themselves what their core role is. They need to decide what it is they should be doing and how they can deliver this. In many cases this will involve doing different things, doing them in different ways and doing them with different people.

To achieve this libraries must ensure that they have in place staff with the skills that are needed to deliver these new things. Replacing old staff who don't have the required skills with new staff who do have these skills is one option - but not a very cost effective one. A better approach is workforce development - ensuring that your staff are given the skills and knowledge that you as a library service need. This is not about providing training from a separate training budget it is about providing core skills from the core library budget. After all there is no point in spending any money at all on books, buildings or equipment if your workforce does not have the skills to deliver the service.

Of course, the skills you want to provide your workforce with might be exactly the skills that they want to gain as part of their own CPD - but that is beside the point.

A final point is that you can no longer afford to go shopping for courses that are being offered by training providers. You have to work with providers to deliver exactly the skills that you need. Its a buyer's market by the way. Squeeze them on price as much as you like but remember if they starve to death then you won't have a provider at all.

1 comment:

Anita van Mil said...

All very true. At Creating Capacity (www.creatingcapacity.org) we like designing tailored in house learning programmes for consortia of organisations who need to do exactly what you describe: take a holistic approach toward skills development needs. In our view capacity building requires post course implementation support. Ideally in the form of peer support through facilitated action learning sets 3 and 6 months after a training day, or as a very minimum online post course support from the trainers, which is what everyone who signs up to a Creating Capacity training session receives free of charge. In house training is a very effective value for money solution in challenging times. All the best to SINTO!