Monday, March 2, 2015

High Income Nation - Are we training our people in the right direction?

Malaysia is moving towards high income nation. To realize the vision 2020, we set our target to achieve GNI per capita of US$15,000. One of the initiative is to train our people. Training has been seen as effective method to upgrade the skills and knowledge of the people. However, are we training our people with the right skills?

Upskilling and Reskilling
Malaysia is focusing so many initiatives to produce high income workers. Among top initiatives of the government including upskilling and reskilling. This is expected to produce a high income workforce through high skill workers.

The linkage between technical skills and soft-skills

According to Carnegie Institute of Technology, 85% of financial success is depends on one personality and the ability to communicate, negotiate and lead. Shockingly, only 15% of it due to technical knowledge. In other words, success in financial depends very much on soft-skills or what I called leadership skills.

This is not the only studies that has been done related to skills. In my previous post, I have mentioned that skills contribute on 14% - 22% (based on industries and descipline). Attitude plays a bigger role, which is the personality part.

Knowing this facts, are we in the right direction of building a high income nation with high income people?

Knowing and Developing Personality is more important
Understanding oneself, how people think, the satisfaction factor, the mindset, in my opinion is far more important than the technical skills. If a person is very good interms of their personality traits, we don't have to force them to attend trainings, because they themselves will invest using their own pocket money to learn subjects that they like the most.

Why am I saying so?
I used to be an engineer. I spend 5 years learning engineering. When I work, I learn most of the tools for manufacturing such as FMEA, 7 QC Tools, SPC, APQP, PDCA and so on. I even got certified in Maynard Operation Sequence Technique (MOST) to calculate standard job time. These are all skills. But after I realized that engineering doesn't give me full satisfaction, I go for some soul-searching until I find the things that I love the most - to train and become a professional speaker.

I made a conclusion that:
1. All those technical training that I went through does not direct applicable most of the things that I am doing now.
2. I am willing to invest more in my own self-development training - on things that interest me. I spent thousands of ringgit each year to attend trainings right from my pocket.
3. I earn better income doing what I love as compared to my professional engineering salary (including hundred hours of OT).

Beside me, there are so many of my engineers friend who are trained to become engineers and later decided to do other things such as operating a restaurant, selling insurance and becoming a professional photographer. The discipline is totally different as compared to their technical training, but they make better income. In fact, one of a good friend of mine enroll in a Cisco Certification programme after she graduated, and now enjoying better income selling takaful and insurance fulltime! All those technical training that was spend (by the tuition fees or training that government or companies send to upgrade their skills) does not really turn to the biggest ROI.

Having Passion and the ability to communicate is the key
Talking about success, people have different definition of it. Some might be link it directly towards financial, some link it with religious and values, some would say if they are happy with what they do, that is a success. But specifically, looking at the national agenda, talking about financial, the ability to communicate well is better than anything else.

Take Steve Jobs and Dennis Ritchie as an example. Both are innovators, but one person brings the company that he founded to become one of the most valuable company in the world with hundreds of billions of revenue, while the other contribute so much, but not so much in terms of financial. What is the key difference between both of them?

Steve Jobs knows how to communicate his vision and invention, while the latter does not really communicate. And why the hell did I bought that expensive iPhone? Because I believe in the vision of Steve Jobs which he mentioned during the launching of iPhone in 2007. It was so persuasive and I bought into his idea, and I am happy with it. Again, that is communication skills.

Being able to communicate well, knowing personality and having the leadership traits to me is more important as the facts mentioned by Carnegie Insititute of Technology. But are we focusing on developing the right thing?

And please don't get me wrong. I am not against the technical training. But similar emphasize need to be given for the soft-skills part. At least our technical people will have the competency in communicating their thoughts and ideas. Not just another old-style yes boss kind of workers. At the same time, we need to encourage people to understand themselves, their natural strength and weaknesses. Once they aware on that they can be more successful in whatever they do.

We should give a training on what most people want and can be benefited from, instead of just chasing the numbers of training conducted for a particular upskilling programme.