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Training Forum - Next Generation Leadership Convention.
Grand Seasons Hotel, Jalan Pahang, Kuala Lumpur
Mar 30, 2016

11:00 AM

Where is the biggest opportunity gap that you feel is least attended to in L&D?

CM Vignaesvaran (CEO of Pembangunan Sumber Manusia Bhd):


A very good question. There is a lot of prospect, soul searching happening in HRDF currently. We have been around for the past 22 years and we always introspect within ourselves and try to figure out areas where we are doing the correct thing and where we can improve.


One of the things we found is the lack of certification programs and this is of concern to the government. With about 700, 000 trainings a year done through HRDF, only 6, 000 are certification programs! When we talk about certification programs, we are addressing any certification programs that is accepted by the industry. An example is SKF Bearing Certification, on bearings maintenance that accepted. As long as the industry accepts this particular standard, we will agree with their certification program. We don’t want to be like MQA to decide on how many contact hours and matters like that, as long as there is a body out there overseeing this.


Going back to the gap, we found that the market is very much supply driven from the training providers. We had something like 1,400 programmes given to us to be evaluated. We called the industry people to come in by involving the secretariat of the training committees, set up with members from the industry and chaired by the industry players. We called all the chairmen to come in and had 19 of them participating, to look through the program that the training providers have submitted. Out of the 1,400 training programmes submitted, only about 300 were approved by the industry committee. So we see another thousand programs that the industry thinks are not relevant to them. That’s a big shocker for us. These are programs that have been running for the past 22 years. The industry has been thinking that they are relevant. When we delved further into it and spoke to them, they said, “Vicks, we have no choice but to accept what the training providers are giving us. And now since you are asking us, whether it is relevant to us or not, we are telling you, NO!”


So that pushes HRDF into a dilemma. Because for the last 22 years, HRDF has not been interfering into the business operations. We say, let the free market decide. We have a company and we have a training provider. Both of you meet and decide how to run the program; we will fund you. We don’t interfere with the process. You choose correctly, you have the classes, so we pay you correctly.


The market, especially with the industries, is very demanding now, that we come in and interfere in the market and this is strange. It is very-very strange and so when I talk with the HR staffs, when they meet me up in forums and such venues. I say, “OK, I gave you the freedom and now you want me to take back the freedom and you want me to interfere?”


This is a bit weird for me because when I was in the industry side, I said, “Look, I know what is best for my business. I don’t need the government to tell me what’s best for my business because I know what I am doing.”


 But now, increasingly, there has been call for us to interfere. So what we want to do is that we don’t want to play the part of MQA nor to enter the business of training. We don’t want to do that. But what we want to do is to influence the dynamics, to move forward, that is to move from a supply driven market to a demand driven market. So the training providers must learn to talk to the industry and decide whether this training is relevant for them or not.


 The biggest gap I saw in reality is this: The guys from the industries are telling us that this is very supply driven, I don’t need this program but I have no choice and I have to attend this program as there is not enough choice of programs for me.


Do you change, in-order to provide fresh offerings to your client.

Anthony Fernandez: (Moderator)

En. Marzuki, You have been in the training industry for 18 years and you have been training in Petronas Leadership Centre (PLC) for many years too. You must have always been changing in-order to provide fresh offerings to your client. How do you keep abreast with this change? 


Marzuki Mohamed (Principal Consultant at AL Advancement of Human Potential Sdn. Bhd.):


Trainers usually offer the skill set that they have. My experience in the training line is that I get uncomfortable and dissatisfied with the training if it does not translate into productivity for the clients. So I have always been thinking about how is my training going to be useful for the clients, which means the needs for the trainers to go and meet the client to understand exactly what the client needs.


When I am working with a large corporate organisation, like for example, Petronas who have a very strong training organisation, I just go in like a servant because they know what they need in the organisation and I encourage them tell me what they need and I will support them in that area. That’s because they know their companies better than me.


But when I work with SMEs and SMIs, they don’t have established training organisations. That’s where I need to go in as a coach first and ask them what it is that they need and typically, the first thing that they usually mention is the immediate fire that they need to douse. If I focus on that fire, I will not be able to solve the actual cause of that fire. So that’s where as a trainer, I need to have the coaching skills in order to identify the cause.


What I have done is basically is to let the industry tell me what are the skillsets that I need. I realised that as a trainer, I cannot have just the skill of delivery on stage. I also need the skills of coaching these people to take the learning and to translate it into productive behaviour in the workplace.


Do training providers and the trainers satisfy your needs?

I asked Mr. Narayanaswami Subramaniam (Former Director of MEMC Electronic Materials Sdn. Bhd. [employs more than 2,500 people] & Global Commodity Director of Sun Edison Inc.) 


Mr. Narayanaswami:


I would say that as an employer and as an end user for training and training service providers, that generally we find that employers are disillusioned with the training providers. This is one of the reason why it is required that the HRDF fund itself has to be maintained by the government. Typically, we find that the employers are really not willing to spend money on their own to get the training done for them.


What is it that employers are looking for? They are looking for growth in the business and productivity improvements. They want employees who can see around the corner, with accountability, able to drive business, drive growth or business strategy; not only at the lowest levels but eventually expanded to all levels of the people. Organisations find that they cannot do the training themselves, they do not have fully manned HR departments. HR managers themselves require training to be able to support the organisation or trade and in this changing scenario, they outsource L&D to training providers and trainers. If the money had not been contributed to HRDF, organisations probably wouldn’t be doing that and the government has realised this for a long time and hence has set up the HRDF. In this aspect, HRDF is doing a very good job catering for the training needs.


The fact is that employers do not always know precisely their training needs and hence trainers have to get out of the training rooms and actually get onto the shop floors. The trainers need to meet the CEOs, they need to meet the stakeholders, and they need to find out exactly what is required by the head of departments of the individual department. The HR managers alone, right now, become the bridge between the trainer and the end user and they cannot completely do that. So trainers actually need to help in that role.


Trainers go out and do a training needs analysis but sometimes we find that they work in silos rather than to meet the holistic requirements or demands of what the industry needs or what the respective client or end user needs. Trainers know what they can provide for and they go and pitch what they want to do. But what is the company’s real needs? What does the trainee do with what he has learned? What have the trainees obtained from the training program? How do they go back and apply the learning? How do they help to improve the ROI for the company? Every employer is looking for that; ROI from their money invested, time invested. So the trainer has to find a way to make sure that there is an end result from the training program. Basically, you are in the process of transforming people. What are they going back and doing, what are they doing to contribute to the organisation?


HRDF, the organisation itself, has a large influential capability in the Malaysian employee landscape. They need to do this survey, really going down to the ground, understanding what each and every contributing organisation needs, whether it is a conglomerate or whether it is an SME or an individual person. That’s the way to get productivity improvement in the country


Does anyone correlate training needs analysis with the learning during training evaluation?

(This question was posed to Mr. CM VIGNAESVARAN, Chief Executive ofPembangunan Sumber Manusia Berhad.) in a MAPS forum at our convention in 2015.

Anthony Fernandez:

Training needs requirement is one thing but what about training evaluation? Shouldn’t this be taken into account? We may be able to figure out what the training needs are but at the end of the day, do we do proper training evaluations? In my opinion for example, there are many people who do team building, they get participants to jump off a building together and survive as a team and achieve something, right? It will be very interesting to see where the learning is in that. The other thing is this: Sometimes we have a trainer who is a comedian, who is a fantastic joker who jokes his way through the training and gets fantastic evaluations but at the end of the day, will this translate to real learning, will it translate to real behaviour and productivity improvements? Mr. Viknes I like to ask you to address if there is an examination of the training needs analysis and the evaluation? Is there someone who actually correlates this?


CM Vignaesvaran:


Interesting question. When I first joined PSMB, this is something we wanted to answer. What we are doing is we are taking the Kirk Fitzpatrick‘s model. Currently, we evaluate the training facility and the trainer on the spot. We realised that there is no real involvement of the supervisors and the employer or the need to know how much money they have to fork out. To the employer, we need to know the impact it has on productivity and in the end, the bottom line is how much profit that training contributed. Whether hard skill or soft skill, it needs to have the behavioural change so as to increase the productivity, which ultimately increase the profitability.


We did a very broad study and have found that there is a significant 26% increase in productive in companies that pay levy to HRDF. So there is evidence that training increases productivity but how effective individual trainers are, is something we are interested to know. We currently are developing an automated system because, most of the time when evaluation is being done, the trainer brings the evaluation sheet and he will ask everyone to fill it up. And Malaysians being Malaysians, we don’t want to offend anyone. We will try to give “memusakan” (satisfactory) or “baik” (good). I know some trainers even stand beside the trainee and says “What marks are you going to give?” Unless the trainer is very bad, they will put some remarks on the form. Most of the time, I joke and this is the truth, they complain that the room is too cold, the food is not nice, or the room is too warm. They don’t convey back whether this particular trainer has an impact on their productivity or not.


For this reason we are devising a plan and this is how it’s going to work. We are taking the PLC (Petronas) model. So after the training has happened, we will send you an SMS, with a website link. You go to the website and evaluate the training outside the training room and not inside the room. If you don’t evaluate, there is no more funding for you. Three months down the road, we will send an e-mail, to the supervisor asking him if the training had any effect on their behaviourals.


When we sell this idea to the government, we have to provide the proof of the effectiveness of the various types of training. My vision is to have a website for training similar to Travel Tripadvisor, for attendees to independently do evaluations.


Coming back its reality that we have three scenarios. Trainers who engage customers directly and do training; trainers who go through training providers to do training and there are training providers who pick trainers to do the training. Many of these trainer providers pay cheaply to get the training done.


Sometimes there are big organisational training companies who are well known. Let’s say you want to do a training on productivity. They will say ok, I will find a trainer. Who’s the cheapest trainer? Grab that trainer and do the training. It’s not rough ride to do the evaluation on the company or the trainer, so we need to split that up. We are planning to have one for the trainers and one for the training providers. A lot of the big training companies do not favour this as they would be seen like the middlemen who don’t do training themselves. They feel that we are taking away their rice bowl.


I had meetings with the bigger guys, they come and meet me and say, “Vicks, this is not the right way to do things like that.” I say look, we let the industry decide ultimately. If it brings down the cost of learning (if you don’t have to pay the middle men,) we cut it off and go direct to the trainers.


Now, in HRDF, when you want to register the training provider, they just need a LLP, Limited Liability Partnership. There is no need for class A, B or C. There is no need to have a classroom or a proper office. We recognise that the training industry is very unique. I can be a trainer, I can operate from home, and yet I could be a very good trainer. Again in HRDF, we want to evaluate this. We have been doing this in a large scale
– in a macro view. Now we want to do it in a micro view, going to the individual companies.


What to do when trainers cannot deliver on their promise?

Anthony Fernandez:

Mr. Nara, it looks like you could be in a dilemma as you may want a certain skill which the trainer and the training provider is promising yet after the training, you may find that your employees haven’t acquired the expected skills. What are the options available to you now?


Narayanaswami Subramaniam (Former Director of MEMC Electronic Materials Sdn. Bhd.[employs more than 2,500 people] & Global Commodity Director of Sun Edison Inc.):


From an employer and company prospective, what needs have been done is to get the management involved from the beginning. One reason training fails is that senior management is not involved, in the sense that the HR manager may be involved or some head of department in securing the training but not the CEO, not the stakeholder or senior manager. If the CEO identifies the needs and says, “This is what I want and at the end of the day I want my people to be knowing this, I want them to be doing this and I want to achieve this at the end of 6 months or 1 year.” That would be great!


We also need to get management to be involved to identify very clear expectations and who will be the kind of people to provide this kind of training. This way, we can do the assessment to identify the correct persons to be trained and get the right person to execute. Remember that somewhere along the line, something may fail that may make the training ineffective. However, if you get the end-user and the providers involved in-depth from the beginning, throughout the process to the end then management will not get disillusioned with the process.


Do not let the training be conducted in a manner where the training provider goes away and the management is left alone with a so called trained employee, expecting to come back and produce something and it doesn’t really happen. There has to be some kind of hand holding in certain cases. Remember we are talking of training for all levels of management. All of you are providing training and education to certain levels of employees. We must remember that all levels of employees have to be trained.


What we actually do is we get the trainer to come back sometime later, to see what was his content, what did he do, what did he deliver and what has happened and so there is an assessment that we do 1, 2 and 3 months later. That way we could do a repeat business with the same trainer rather than just doing an off-hand one-time kind of event and then there is no rapport with the trainer and the trainees. And again this requires stamina from both sides, the management as well as the trainer. Does the trainer gets paid when he comes back the second time and do something? How do we do that? Is it worth for us to pay the trainer something to get a more concrete result at the end of the day?


Jackson Ng: (Questions from the floor):

You mentioned that there are 6, 000 certification program currently offered. People like us don’t have certification programs yet so how are we going to compete with those who have?


CM Vignaesvaran:

The direction we are going is to have certification program. We don’t want training providers to have short training programs that provide what we call certification of attendance. We understand that there are certain that don’t have certification such as Six-Sigma where the original body does not exist but our direction to get certification to be issued for trainings. MAPS, for example, can be a certification body. This can be done as long as the industry accepts this.


Let me wrap up by covering an important area. In RM11, HRDF are tasked to do many things by the government. An exciting one is an existing scheme in HRDF where the government has allow a company with one vacant position to hire say three potential employee to be trained for that position and claim from the government for the training of these three trainees for two, up to six months. Now at the end of the training, you may hire the best of the three and let the other two go. When the two apply to another company, they have the edge over others with their two to six months experience.