Skills transfer

Skills transfer
See also

Skills transfer refers to the process of sharing knowledge, expertise and abilities with employees in an organisation. This term is frequently used in reference to training of new employees. It is vital to underline that this is the employee who is at the centre of this process. Many researchers acknowledged this fact, calling employees „a blood stream of any business” and stressing that „the accomplishment or disaster of the firm depends on its employee performance” (Elnaga, 2013, p. 137).

Companies operate in unstable and changing environments and as a result of this they need to adopt quickly to new trends on the market. In order to meet all of these challenges, companies are willing to invest in training programmes that would boost efficiency of their workers (Elnaga, 2013, p. 137). The transfer of skills which is organised and well-planned can help company gain the advantage over its competitors.

Effective transfer of skills

Skills transfer needs to be properly organised and planned as some abilities develop slowly over time. The same refers to the understanding of key concepts and processes. As mentioned by Elnaga, effective skills transfer should help workers manage their frustration and fears related to a new task or a position (2013, p. 139). In order to realise their full potential, employees need to feel comfortable while discussing new ideas and, above all, should be encouraged to ask questions. What is more, by questioning the status quo employees can yield improvements in old projects or processes. This explains why organisations should make efforts to facilitate the understanding in employees, otherwise workers may decide to leave them and join different companies (Elnaga, 2013, p. 139).

Elnaga lists five integral parts of effective transfer of skills (2013, p. 140):

  • planning, which means establishing goals and steps that will help to achieve a given target. It is important to ensure that goals are realistic and attainable over a specified period of time. While preparing a plan of the training, goals should be divided into short-term and long-term ones
  • monitoring, including feedback, the control of the employees’ understanding and comparing it with the established standards. The feedback should be constructive and informative. It shouldn't trigger frustration and discouragement
  • developing, which describes the period when employees improve their skills and learn from mistakes made in the monitoring phase. This part should be clearly defined in time
  • rating, which is the assessment of the employees’ performance
  • rewarding.

As indicated by Shelton, without these elements skills transfer "reverts back to being simply training" (2001, p. 11).

Due to a widespread development of technology, transferring skills to employees does not have to be limited to traditional, face-to-face interaction but can be realised by means of educational platforms and applications (Shelton, 2001, p. 11). The importance of Internet-based knowledge sharing becomes even more pronounced nowadays given the growing flexibility of businesses and the need for instant accessibility of information (Shelton, 2001, p. 11). Shelton points out that skills transfer should resemble studying, not passive processing of the information provided by a peer (Shelton, 2001, p. 12). This is realised through effective knowledge management within the structure of an organisation.

In addition, "since companies can no longer guarantee employees promotions to the top, it is important that they help employees with career planning and skills development" (Shelton, 2001, p. 13). The skills transfer can be thus perceived as a motivational tool in the hands of the employers, who can use it to encourage employees to stay loyal to the company and create added value to its business activities.

The employees should take active part in the training preparation process. Machin (2002, p. 7) suggests that workers should be given the chance to decide on the type of training they are to attend, as well as specify the time and place of the training session that would be comfortable for them. In addition, they should be encouraged to set down requirements for the course and choose the manner they want to participate in it (Machin, 2002, p. 7).


Author: Małgorzata Goryl