Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Need for Professional Training

This week's post is by guest-blogger Connie Rivera, AIA, Executive Director of the Corpus Christi Chapter of the American Institute of Architects:

Remember the days when we thought that once we had our diploma or degree, our days of education would be over? I bet you’re laughing as we all know that is so not true.

Just about every professional career today requires a certain amount of training. And I’m not just talking about that learning curve when we start a new position. We all need continual training or education just to stay in the game. That is true for doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers and architects.

Architects especially need training throughout their careers. Building technology is changing dramatically at an ever-increasing pace. The systems used within a building to heat, cool, light and serve a space have become incredibly complex. Buildings such as hospitals, laboratories, auditoriums are examples of spaces that require many systems to adequately function. Even the classroom is no longer a simple space with lighting and desks. Information technology has changed all that. And with the advent of concerns for sustainability, it makes the need for training all that more pressing.

But not only has building technology changed, how architects produce designs has also dramatically changed. We no longer sit at drafting tables drawing with either ink or graphite. Many of us use the computer using software to produce virtual models for buildings with input from all members of the design team – from the engineers to the contractors to the clients. The demand for instant information, real-time revisions and shorter production times has compelled us to train in new formats all the time.

To ignore the need for training is a decision to become obsolete.

Friday, August 6, 2010

S-O-F-T Is Not A Four Letter Word

Revenues are down, stress is up, companies need faster-better-more with fewer and fewer resources.

Obviously there is a need to bring employees up to speed in critical skills so that fewer employees can perform more tasks.

Surprisingly, the critical skills needed are not technical.

Employers need their employees trained in skills such as Customer Service, Leadership, Change Management, Interpersonal Skills. . . skills that have always been called (somewhat pejoratively) "Soft Skills".

A recent study by Grant Thornton LLP identifies "soft skills" as the number one challenge in hiring Accounting professionals.


Soft Skills training is no longer the group-hug, feel-good "trainertainment" class of the past. Training now focuses on research based content, tangible behavior modifications and results oriented learning strategies.

Fortunately, state and federal funding is available to keep up with corporate demand. While the focus of many funding sources remains on tangible and technical skills, soft skills are often allowable as a component of an overall project.

In Texas, the Skills Development Fund and the Skills for Small Business program are available to help industry fund needed training.

When times are hard, it's important for companies to be "soft".