Sunday, 18 November 2007

Excuses to avoid training

• I'm too busy to go on a time management course
• I can’t afford to go on a finance course
• I can't go on a leadership course when my team's morale is so low

I've heard something like this a lot. I think it's partly a generational thing: when I was doing my degree in the 1980s, the courses seemed to be intended to provide everything you would ever need for your subsequent career, including directing excavations, which would have lain 20 years in the future for most students (or so it was thought at the time, before PPG16 was thought of). Of course, this creates problems in a chnaging world, but what happens when you encounter something new? You obviously hadn't been paying attention when this was covered in your degree.

By the early 90s, the rhetoric had changed and everyone was being exhorted to follow lifelong learning, developing a portfolio career for several employers, and needing training doesn't necessarily signal weakness. There is a downside to this, though: what Caveat Lector calls the Training wheels culture, where any innovation is met with cries of 'I need training'. Archaeologists used to be largely self-taught in IT; although this may mean that we have gaps in knowledge, it also means that we are used to getting to grips with innovation by using it to do things.

Reasons not to train

There are, however, rational grounds for a reluctance to engage in training.


Most skills are generic skills, but it helps if they are presented in a recognisable context. Management courses tend to be either business or public body focused, and it is not always easy to see their usefulness. I hadn't thought that "Negotiating" was a skill I would have much use for, but in fact I need it every day.

Lack of corporate support

If an employer is reluctant to support its staff in their pursuit of opportunities, it is easy for a vicious circle to develop where instant pay-offs are demanded: "You need to prove to me you've learned something useful", which is hardly conducive to a fruitful learning experience, and leads to a focus on nuts-and-bolts How To training when it may well be that personal development is the greater need.


Finding time within a work programme is never easy. But training these days need not be a formal taught course: you could always do a distance learning modular course, or read a book. It's unreasonable for an employer to expect all training to take place in your own time, but you should be prepared to stretch a little.


Some workplaces despise training. Some do not. If yours does, you're in for a long battle.

Lack of interest

Some people don't want to learn new things; they are happy where they are. Except they're not, of course. But even so, there's no point pushing people who aren't interested.

Lack of information

If it is left for would-be trainees to identify suitable opportunities, most will not.

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