3 Questions

Dennis N. Ulrich is the executive director of the Workforce Development Center at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, which provides leadership to businesses, government agencies, nonprofit organizations and individuals. The Workforce Development Center’s mission is to create and deliver flexible education, consulting and training services that reflect market needs.

Q. How important is it to keep continuing education in the budget for companies in today’s economy?

It is critically important. After 9/11, the first thing companies cut was training and marketing, and those are actually the two things during a recession you need to focus on. It goes back to the old adage that, ‘In good times, you have to manage as if bad times are just around the corner because they’re sure to come.’ When the economy comes around, those who keep training will be better positioned. A recession can really be a good time to revisit and review training and training resources to find some ways to do it more intelligently. It is an up and down cycle, and you shouldn’t allow that to dictate the level of training or education your employees have.

Q. What type of education should companies focus on in today’s economy?

There’s greater scrutiny in a training budget as there is in spending on all areas of business today. Integrate training into a daily performance and maintain it as a development resource and not simply a training program. Look at areas that will drive the business now and in the future.

Q. How can a company determine effective training techniques to maximize education dollars?

Set up metrics that work with the type of training you plan to do. By introducing performance metrics into training, a percentage of an employee’s performance evaluation will have to do with their success in personal development and training. What most organizations fail to do is to reintegrate performance metrics into the human resource system. They pay for training despite results. If training is reimbursed based on success, the employee is more likely to work harder.