For a long time, we have been grappling with the concept that education is too input orientated. That is to say that many education providers teach students what is ‘in the manual’, (dictated by National Occupational Standards), and then, when they they graduate, wishes them good luck as they vanish into the sunset to find work. Job done. Theoretically.
Providers are fulfilling their (teaching) input requirements and leave the graduate to forge their commercial future - if they can.
The truth is that for many new graduates, translating that academic ‘success’ into a fulfilling, financially successful career is hard. Anecdotally, seven out of ten don’t make that transition within the first year and then leave the industry.
Making new course graduates ‘industry fit’
That sits awkwardly with me. I believe we have much more of a responsibility to prepare graduates to be ‘match fit’. Or should I say, ‘industry fit’.
So we have started a journey with our partners, Core Collective Singapore, to address this responsibility shortfall. We have requested 5 key business performance indicators from Core Collective, which they expect all their trainers to deliver and we are embedding them in our teaching and assessment strategy. That means that our students will need to meet commercial performance benchmarks if they want to pass our programme.
Working to commercial performance benchmarks
Performance benchmarks? What do I mean? Well, let’s start with a service delivery plan, minimum daily prospecting activity goals , sales targets, customer satisfaction review data and retention goals. All outputs which successful practitioners will need to put in position if they want to thrive and grow. And we don’t want to test them in a simulated scenario. We are interested in them working with actual clients, providing authentic feedback.
Our graduates will need to demonstrate they have achieved selected outputs while they are on course - and they will ‘practice under license’ to cover their insurance obligations.
Developing an output aligned approach redefines learning
If we training providers all changed our approach to become more ‘output orientated’, we could stipulate that students cannot pass a course until they have delivered key commercial outputs, defined and monitored by an employer. That would be the best learning experience we could possibly give our students.
Now that is a scenario which would keep some of us providers awake at night! High pressure. High accountability. But surely the most exhilarating ride we could jump on!
Students proving commercial skill from Day 1
As a student, you would have to design, present and execute your own specific commercial strategy during the course - specifically aligned to your personal skills and capabilities. That would mean identifying customer groups, profiling, marketing and selling the service you are delivering before you qualify.
And then we providers can step up the technical - not settle for tick box theory assessments instead, we make our students deliver their anatomy and physiology knowledge practically, on real clients, demonstrating that they are able to convert their book based knowledge into commercially valuable, practical skills. After all, a customer doesn’t pay practitioners to tick ‘a’, ‘b’, ‘c’ or ‘d’ do they?
Cap this with a continuous feedback loop from the operator who observes students in action and feeds back to the training provider on the key commercial outputs.
Scary? Yes. Impossible? No.
This type of approach would take a lot of graft from providers, but it would result in a continuously improving workforce. And new entrants to the industry not falling at the first hurdle. We owe them that don’t we? I don’t know about you, but my conscience prevents me from letting this one go. We are underway, come what may. Here’s to sleepless nights!