Smart Sense: Reducing Cost, Enhancing Competitiveness Through Training

From the AgLink e-newsletter, Spring 2011

Despite its importance in the knowledge economy, training is still not a strategic issue for some agriculture, agribusiness and agri-food companies. They are so focused on the bottom line that they lose sight of their top-line enhancing opportunities presented by investing in training and capacity development.

A recent study conducted in the Animal Health Corridor — the region bordered on the east by Columbia, Mo., the north by St. Joseph, Mo., and on the west by Manhattan, Kan. — revealed employee concerns about the rapid obsolescence of knowledge and skills and its effect on their firms’ competitiveness.

The study, conducted by Vincent Amanor-Boadu, associate professor of agribusiness economics and management, showed that this rapid obsolescence of knowledge and skills is emanating from rapid introduction of new technologies, increasing customer knowledge and swiftly changing and globalizing marketplace.

According to the study’s results, employees are willing to address this problem by investing time and effort, but indicated a need for financial support from their employers.

Employers may look at employee training support as investments. When made right, these investments can lead to significant reductions in costs and/or enhancements in top-line numbers.

For example, providing training in decision-making and strategic thinking can augment employees’ opportunity-scoping capabilities, allowing them to discover new revenue sources or cost savings. Similarly, investing in risk prevention training, such as the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Employees FIRST initiative, helps food industry employees increase their food defense awareness and reduce associated remediation costs.

The Department of Agricultural Economics at K-State has a number of outreach programs to help animal and health food industry companies achieve their training objectives. It also is working with industry stakeholders and K-State Olathe partners to develop new programs that address specific needs, from sharpening employees’ financial management skills to developing competitiveness in international trade environments.

Industry stakeholders interested in discussing how they can participate in these program development initiatives should contact Dr. Vincent Amanor-Boadu at vincent@ksu.edu or (785) 532-3520 for more information.

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