II - CLAUSE #1
3. THE VICARIOUS TRAINER
There is presently no shortage of any type of the graduates that the educational system produces, and there is not likely ever to be an immediate demand, from the production system, for any more of these graduates, however good and proper the system turns them out, for the simple reason that Production per se seldom has any immediate use for graduates.
The production system wants workers with experience and does not hire from the educational system but from an informal, almost mythical entity that we might call the "training system". Conversely, the normal outlet of the educational system is not Production, but this training system. Graduates remain unemployed when there is no demand from the training system, which is not necessarily because there are no needs for trained workers in Production. The "training system", you see, is not only informal but mostly under-managed, and short of cash.
Trouble arises because the real training system, from which Production
hires, operates in industry. It does with relatively little human and financial
resources, parallel to a network of independent or State-sponsored "Training
Centers" that are quite mistakenly expected to provide real training
and to prepare workers directly for Production, though they only provide
more professional education to lengthen the queues at the gates of the real
Education and training
First of all, let us clarify some confusion between education and training. Just as it is important to draw the line between cultural and professional education, so it is essential to define where education ends and where training begins, since they are not the same thing and do not serve the same purpose.
Education is the acquisition, at the conscious level, of well-structured bits of knowledge. Emphasis here is on "structure", as bits of information that do not relate and coalesce into ideas and concepts are not education but merely "mind garbage". Training is conditioning; it is the acquisition of knowledge at the unconscious level, to free the conscious mind of everything repetitive, so we can go on easily through the chores of life while our mind remains open and aware of "what's new". Training makes things easy and, if only known factors are involved, makes us more efficient also, since the dumb animal in us, once trained properly, will ask no questions and react faster.
Repeat gestures and get trained. Trained to walk or to swim, for instance, or trained, Epsilon like, to repeat some simple operations implying simple gestures. Live through complex situations repetitively, and you will learn also, in the same way, to react better to complex situations: you will have gained "experience". A training system is what makes you live through "situations" and gain experience, therefore making you a better qualified worker for these "situations".
You remember the "missing component" that might have the Smart Matchmaker consider some workers to be qualified "knowledge-wise" only? This missing component can often be defined as experience, because the professional education graduate, although he has acquired the knowledge, still needs a most significant part of the qualification: automatisms that cannot be acquired properly anywhere except on the job. The "education and training" system will remain imperfect until it escapes the familiar dead-end that you are not really qualified until you have worked... but will not be allowed to work until you are qualified. The purpose of "training" is to cover this twilight zone between the acquisition of knowledge and full-qualification.
Technology changes, "jobs" change and the workers also must change. We do not need more workers in production, but we need constantly different workers; training, like change itself, must become a continuous process. A continuous process that will account for an increasing portion of the active life of individuals; ten..., twenty..., thirty percent of the worker's active life?
We need now give training its full importance in relation with education, cultural or professional. It is a strident call for action, because the defective, informal, destitute training system is a bottleneck between an output from the educational system which is not fully used, and a demand for skills which is not fully satisfied. A call for action and who, if not the State, could afford to heed that call?
We certainly have a collective interest that justifies the State's intervention in training as well as in professional education, but the State will not be able to proceed the same way to train as to educate, because the State cannot comply with its responsibility for training simply by maintaining training centers. The first purpose of training is to allow for the integration of the worker into the labour force, giving him a chance to be useful within the scope of what he already knows while he learns, in "real life" situations, whatever more he needs to know to achieve complete qualification. Training must facilitate integration into the labour force, and the artificial atmosphere of a training center will not provide the immersion in real life, the experience, which is a prerequisite for employment.
Then, content-wise, remember that the real demand for training is at the limit of specialization, at the point where state-of-the-art knowledge interfaces with real production. The training we provide must also be some sort of made-to-measure operation aimed at a specific function in production. An "off-the-rack" training, given out-of-context with obsolete equipment, in multi-purpose training centers, is not the training we need, since what the worker must train for is a specialized function and what he must continuously revise are not the basics of his trade but its most sophisticated aspects.
To satisfy these two conditions, first of integration and then of high specialization, training should always take place on the job. To top it all, isn't it clear that teaching "know-how" must be done by those who "know how", namely by skilled workers and technicians who have learned how to teach, not by professional vocational teachers who learn first about teaching ... and then try to discover what the jobs are about? It is the people in the production system, and only the people in the production system, who can give proper training.
Except when consequences are so drastic that we must rely on simulation, in which case training will not be perfect, but just be the best we can do, real training should not ever take place anywhere save on the job. Training centers might do for basic professional education, but not for training. It is in real situations and with real equipment that training should take place. It is ludicrous to train people anywhere but on the job.
As we enter the Age of Creativity, we should try even less to have it otherwise. Why? Because the purpose of training now should be to condition the worker, not to a series of simple gestures - for which he eventually will be replaced by a machine - but to global situations. We must aim at a new level of automatism that will imply a good grasp of all the factors involved and at the very "conditioning", when the need might arise, to move out of automatism, to "cancel program" and to react with creativity. This, the worker will learn best in real life, on the job in the real world and nowhere else.
Which makes things a little tricky for the Octopus, since it is certainly
not the State's business to interfere in production, just to have the jobs
without which training will not be adequate; without "jobs" at
its disposal, though, the State cannot give adequate training.... Who else
can afford training?
Partners in training
Nobody else can afford training. Shall we ask the employer to pay for training? We may do so, but trust the path of necessity and egoism. It may be in the best long-term interest of both employers and individuals - and of the collectivity as a whole - that workers receive more training, but the truth is that, at the precise moment he undergoes training the worker is not producing. Unless he may look at the costs and benefits of training and arrive at the conclusion that training is profitable for his own enterprise, the employer - and this goes for managers - will try to avoid or at least to minimize and delay training. Worse in a labour force where mobility is the rule! The employer is unlikely to spend much on training for the unfaithful employee, except when he has absolutely no other alternative. This attitude is understandable, but is not going to provide us with all the training we need.
Shall we then put the burden of cost on the worker himself? Not realistic, because the individual's horizon is even shorter, his estimates more conservative than the employers' and, unless he is a loser at the job game, the worker is unlikely to invest much time or money in further training. So, who should take over but the State, which by then will know better than anybody the global needs and wants of employers and workers?
The State, which by that time will already be paying for education and paying salaries to the students in professional education, will have to pay also for training, including the trainees' salary. The State will have to take upon itself the responsibility for training and to pay for it, which is the only way we will get all the training we need. On the other hand, it will let training take place where it should, in production, on the job or close to the job. Industry as well as necessity can be trusted to rub the message in, and the State will become the Vicarious Trainer. Training will be paid for by the State, but will take place on the job.
We will be ready for the Universal Training Act, a legislation that will provide for on-the-job training all across the production system, in collaboration with employers. The State will put to use its knowledge of present and future manpower needs and of the workers' skills, to promote and sponsor training programs within industry. It will pay for the programs and help the employer with program's definition, training methodology and the training of instructors. Most important of all, it will certify the competence of the workers who have been trained.
The process will be as follows. The State, as a smart matchmaker, will sum up the needs of employers and project these needs in the near and not so near future - the broader the categories, the more distant the horizon - with all the accuracy that forecasting techniques will allow. This is nothing new; we will simply be able to do it more properly the moment we will have the Skillcodes and the Job Analysis Profiles in our files.
When needs are known, as best we can, the State, taking into account training time and delays, will establish an overall schedule for training that will try to make all the skilled manpower we need available, when it is needed. This is already better than what we do presently, although it is no great feat either. Then - and this will be the substantial improvement - we will let the users/employers in production take over the training of the workers in production.
The State will ask for bids for the training of the number of workers required in each skill-category. It will do it also for the training in the broader categories that are prerequisites for these skill-categories, whenever these make sense in terms of workshop production. It will ask for bids from the private sector, amongst the employers who are users of the skill-categories in demand. This does not mean that each employer will have to train his own workers, but that employers, in a branch of production, will globally train all workers in the skills specific to that branch.
The State, for any given program, will provide the minimal syllabus (based on up-to-date job analysis), and the list of prospective trainees on the market who have the proper professional education prerequisites. From time to time, the State will offer Trainers' Training Programs, for any interested workers to attend; employers should make sure that they have on their staff, certified as Trainers, workers competent in the skill-categories for which they intent to bid.
The employer who would become a "training contractor" should not expect to make a pile of money out of training activities, but he would not be expected to lose either. A reasonable bid should cover the use of the premises and equipment, the salaries of instructors and a small amount for administration and overhead. The best bid would not necessarily be the lowest bid; the procedure should favor those who would accept to take a hand in training skilled labour for their own needs.
If the "training contractor" will guarantee subsequent employment for a year or so, he may be allowed to add, to the minimal training program of the State, some extra modules that would fit his more specific needs. It would be admissible also, for two or more employers, to share openly in a bid for a given number of trainees, and then to distribute the group amongst their respective facilities.
Innovative approach, isn't it? In fact it is not so different from what
was done the last time we, as a society, got real serious about training.
Just consult files on Training Within Industry during World War II... The
future of vocational training is partnership for training on the job, with
State, the Vicarious Trainer picking up the tab for a bill that the State
only can afford to settle.. and the employers doing the job that they alone
can do properly.
The State, after the training is over, will test the trainee and check his competence in the skill-category originally defined and, also, in any of the additional modules that the training contractor might have added to the basic syllabus. As with professional education, it will use docimology, and test often and in-depth, for this is the cornerstone of a new approach to manpower management. We want to have a clear picture of the worker's skills, because we will not have the optimal use of our human resources until we know precisely our resources as well as our needs.
It is the Pragmatic Teacher, in professional education, who will hand out diplomas as proofs of knowledge. The purpose of testing after training is not only to confirm that the worker "knows". We will have better reasons still to test and make sure of their competence, since the State will CERTIFY the workers.
Certify them first for safety. We cannot simply allow anybody who feels he has a talent for healing to pretend he is a doctor, nor anybody who can draw a sketch or talk smoothly to prowl on the population pretending to be an architect or a lawyer. Same thing with plumbers if we do not want to flood basements, with electricians, etc. This is the certification for quality control that we are used to and that confers a right to practice. Nothing new here.
Certification, however, will do more now than vouch for knowledge and guarantee safety; it will be recognition that a worker, amongst those who had the prerequisites, has been amongst the chosen few also selected for training by the State's partners in training from the production sector (they will get paid for successful trainees only, and be choosy!), and has now passed successfully also this final trial of training, being tested and found competent. Certification will do more than say that the worker is good enough; it will be recognition that he is amongst the best.
When the State certifies Johnny Worker, it will mean that he has tested strong in both knowledge and practical know-how acquired in training within industry and is now an experienced worker, fully qualified to fulfill all the "jobs" of a skill-category defined by job analysis in the production system, meaning one of the precise collections of tasks that are grouped together as "jobs" by specific employers, in real-life situations, to fit their particular manpower needs as they see them.
When the State will certify the skill of a worker, it should be as good as gold, lest the whole approach become senseless. If it is good, the reputation of the State as a certifier of skills will soon be well established, and the demand for "training within industry + State certification" will grow rapidly. Employers will rely more and more on the credibility of the State's certification of workers; they will entertain little doubts about its value, since it will come after a period of training on the job, in collaboration with an employer. The corollary to this is that employers will rely even less than today on the degrees and diplomas issued by Colleges and Training Institutions. Without having to impose anything, the State will soon become the universal certifier of skills as they apply on the labour market... which will boomerang to give even more credibility to the Pragmatic Teacher....
The State will pay for training. This should not, however, be construed
as an obligation upon the community to pay people whenever they feel like
getting trained; we simply cannot afford to do that. We will pay selectively
and, as the State will take the responsibility to guarantee income in exchange
for participation in the training process, it must have the authority to
limit the number of trainees in each field and to pay only the best to pursue
training. It is certification that will set apart the "good
enough" from the"best", and will therefore become the way
to decide who will be offered a salary for more training... As it is used
that way, it will cease to confer only a right to practice and will confer
also, for all practical purpose, a right to an income. Certification will
have turned into an income contract.
The Income Contract
An income contract will be a welcome addition to the State's arsenal for optimization. Optimization, it seems, would require that individuals accept, without discussion, the advice of the State concerning their career plans. In a democratic society and an environment of growing freedom though, it is no use to say that imposing a career plan on the individual is out of the question; not only because it would be wrong, but because it would be inefficient. Totally impossible. Impossible, that is, without some kind of inducement... An income contract.
It is one thing to pick trainees out of the Welfare's list of recipients, another thing altogether, when we become more selective, to realize that the best candidates for training are often workers who are already at work and only mildly interested in a change, even though we may believe that their most efficient assignment (career-wise for them, production-wise in the long term for us all) would not be to production but to further training. What will be the carrot to optimize the use of the best workers?
It is important to realize what's going to happen on the labour market as the creative imperative takes over. We will have all workers face an accelerating cycle of training and retraining for jobs that will occupy less of their time, a cycle most probably finally to end up in self-employment of some sort. How can the State expect the workers to come forward joyfully to be qualified every few years, if they have the feeling that they must always begin anew, must always run faster simply not to be left behind? Why jump ahead if there is no net below and there is no assurance that it will not be "back to square one" within months? Will training become part of a more heartbreaking rat-race than ever?
For the worker to accept a faster pace of retraining, his compensation must at least be guaranteed at its previous level during training and, as an incentive, he should be able to look forward to a little more after training if he is certified for a higher skill-category. Time will be ripe for another of those freedom/security trade-offs with the Octopus, and we will soon improve on the initial terms of the income contract for training.
The State will not try to impose career plans, it will not make threats but, to the contrary, it will follow the trends of fatherly love and "positive reinforcement only" which are the new rules of the game. The State will put its money where its mouth is as Matchmaker, Teacher and Trainer, and offer to make sure that it is not the individual who is penalized, but the collectivity that foots the bill, when the State's guessing will have proved inaccurate or its training insufficient.
The State will offer a gift for proper behavior to those of its children who follow its advice. When a worker selected for training will accept to attend, will complete successfully a program and will be certified at the end for these tasks for which the Trainer believes there is a demand, the State will guarantee to this worker that, should he ever after, through no fault of his own, become unemployed, he shall not have to fall back on Welfare or Social Security for a living, but shall receive instead a "salary" consistent with his new professional status.
This salary, which will be determined by the State as sufficient inducement to attract the type of trainees it needs, will naturally become the minimal compensation paid on the labour market for this particular type of skill. We will have "certification for income"... and the State will have taken the occasion of training to move into the field of guaranteed income policies.
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