learning and development

Importance of learning and development in small and medium enterprises

Small and medium Enterprises (SMEs) form the backbone of India’s growing economy, and learning and development (L&D) plays a crucial role in ensuring consistent growth and development of the industry

Globalization, the diverse workforce environment and use of information technology have made organizations enable learning and development as a competitive advantage. In a knowledge-based economy, the collective skills of its employees are critical to business success. Enterprises with a culture of learning are some of the highest performers in competitiveness, agility, and engagement when knowledge is freely distilled throughout the organization. Effective learning has led to greater employee motivation and satisfaction as employees feel keenly valued. This is particularly prevalent in the small-medium sized enterprise (SME) sector where businesses have many of the same needs as multi-national giants, but not the level of resources required to service them.

The SME and MSME sector remain an integral part of the Indian economy.  As per a report, this sector accounts for over 40% of the Indian workforce and contributes 37% to the nation’s GDP. The sector provided jobs to 111 million people between 2014 and 2018 and about two lakh entrepreneurs benefited from the Prime Minister’s Employment Guarantee Programme between the same periods taking the overall number to 20 lakhs. While the government remains focused on making India a $5 trillion economy and reach $2 trillion in global trade in the next few years, SMEs will be the backbone of this endeavor.

As SMEs and MSMEs begin to fulfill their digital skill gap using technological transformation, Advancement in Learning and Development is making this possible at breakneck speeds. Additionally, by making Learning – ‘bite-sized’, the attention-span is being captured easily. Overall, this approach helps in making business vital information available at the fingertips of employees. Backed by ‘gamification’ and ‘social learning’, they are constantly engaged and retain the ‘competitive-spirit’

Be it new hire induction training, product or process training, new product launch, continuous training assessments, audits, surveys, feedback, continuous employee engagement, live virtual training, LXPs are enabling talent transformation. With a customizable platform that allows creation of courses, assessments, certification, gamification, and detailed analytics of trainings at the learner level, these smart learning platform can help SMEs/MSMEs in maximizing their training effectiveness.

One of the challenges which SMEs/MSMEs face is hiring and creating their own internal L&D teams. Due to the size of the organizations, many a times they take a call not to have separate L&D teams and thus many a times impacting the future growth potential due to a less skilled manpower. The dilemma is to have or have not a dedicated L&D team. A lot of SMEs /MSMEs are going for outsourcing their L&D department where an L&D specialist organization does all the TNI and also ensure that the trainings are conducted as per the training needs of an individual organization. Even mobile devices have made learning available to an increasing base of people and almost anywhere in geographical contexts.

Mostly, decision-making is highly reliant on an individual owner/manager’s judgment, whose decisions and data bank can heavily influence the exploration and exploitation of learning resources. It is important for senior management to keep themselves in accordance with the changing dynamics of their industries, to impart the right knowledge to their workforce.  Organizational culture determines the strength and transparency in internal networks and is a huge contributor to the establishment of a learning culture in an SME. Social interaction plays a crucial role in knowledge paradigms. Lifelong Learning platforms having a ‘social network’ of their own where employees can interact with each other and share their progress and learning on the platform itself, while also being able to follow the progress of their colleagues as well will help inculcate stronger social relationships between employees while also fostering a competition amongst them – both of which contribute to the overall development of the enterprise.

The Small and Medium Enterprises Industry forms the backbone of India’s growing economy, and the consistent growth and development of its enterprises is crucial to its development. Though governmental reforms have contributed towards the generation of a growth-friendly environment for SMEs, the individual growth of each enterprise depends on their ability to keep in touch with industrial advances and ensure that the right skilled workforce is available, making Learning and Development practices a must for this industry.

By Sanjay Bahl, MD and CEO, Centum Learning


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