Skill Development

Description

Skill development is the defined process of learning or improving necessary skills, such as technical skills, service/product understanding, and interaction skills, to ensure that the service provider has the ability to determine, evaluate, and satisfy customer requirements. Skill development also ensures that employees have the knowledge and capability to deliver consistent service. Continuous improvement of employee skill sets should provide customers with service that exceeds expectations and maintains competitiveness within the market.

Application

  • Within the service industry, the skills necessary to provide competitive advantage are usually either technical or customer-focused, and employees are expected to hone them continually. The expectations of different stakeholders follow:
    • Internal expectations for skill development:
      • Management determines the outcomes from skill development as they relate to the organization’s growth. To ensure outcomes are achieved, internal expectations must be communicated through job descriptions.
      • Understanding employees’ expectations as a result of skill development is also critical. Employees who achieve proficiency expect advancement through promotion, further skill development, and/or recognition and rewards.
    • External expectations:
      • Competent service delivery to the customer base is ensured by skill development as customer expectations by providing reliable and consistent service.
      • Customers also expect certification to defined standards—e.g., ASNT-TC-1A, AWS Certified Welding Inspector, Certified Lineman—as evidence of competence in the developed skill.
  • The opportunities available to employees for skill development are influenced by the following:
    • Basis of the qualification. This depends upon customer/industry standard requirements.
    • Source of the qualification. Governing bodies or authorities provide information or standards for skill development of employees (e.g., welding, testing, inspection, calibration, standards requirements).  Professional organizations also provide certifications for their members (e.g., ASQ, the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA), and other industry specific bodies).
    • Return on investment (ROI) for skill development. A positive return on investment allows both the employee and the employer to benefit from the process.
  • A formal process that covers initial and ongoing skill development as well as reassessment of skills required ensures consistency of delivery to all employees.
  • Technical skills are those skills required to perform certain functions, e.g., nursing, professional engineering, nondestructive testing, quality auditing, accounting.
  • Customer focused skills include service/product understanding and interaction with customers, peers, and the community.
  • Methods of delivery of skill development can include the following:
    • Classroom
    • Web-based (Webinars, etc.)
    • Competency-based
    • Self-study
  • Methods of evaluation or examination of skill development progress include the following:
    • Practical examination, as in NDT technician
    • Written examination, as in the ASQ Certified Quality Auditor (CQA), Professional Engineer, Registered Nurse, Attorney
    • Competency based, as in RABQSA lead auditor
    • Governing body requirements for formal learning
    • Licensing as a perquisite for practicing the profession, as in professional engineers, registered nurses and attorneys
  • In some service professions, employee participation and responsibility are forefront in determining success. Employees therefore must exercise some level of responsibility for personal skill development, both initially and in recurring phases. Employees can also play a role in organizational skill development by serving on development teams.