Bernal, A. (Ed.) (2019). Formación continua [Continuous training]. (Jesús García Álvarez)
Bernal, A. (Ed.) (2019).
Formación continua [Continuous training].
Madrid: Síntesis. 216 pp.
There can be no doubt that economic globalisation and internationalisation have caused major educational and profesional changes that have affected how our society is organised. Their impact is such that government authorities in various European countries have been obliged to propose educational reforms to provide education of the standard the global economy requires.
These transformations, resulting from changes caused by factors such as technological innovation, the rigidity of corporate structures, the globalisation of markets, and the effects of the financial crisis, have required the definition of new models for participating in the employment market, or at least reconsideration of existing ones.
The ever more notable technological progress resulting from globalisation has made continuous training something of central importance in the development of organisations as it gives them a competitive advantage. On the one hand, this is because it makes an organisation’s intelectual capital more flexible and prepares it to face the challenges of a constantly changing socioeconomic context. On the other hand, it develops the human capital of the organisation’s assets, optimising the skills and competences their tasks require of them. This requires businesses to adapt to a flexible labour market resulting from changes that differ in nature and extent, and this market must accept the principle of competence, through which economic and productive activity and professional training itself must be planned.
Because of this, an increase has been observed in certain specific public policies intended to help develop continuous training, primarily based on increasing funding for it and its subsequent spread through the business fabric. So much so that continuous training, typified by the pursuit of lifelong learning and professional development to meet efficacy and modernisation objectives in a constantly changing society, is one of the main goals of public institutions.
Accordingly, the work reviewed here has systematic structure and analyses the development of continuous training in Spain, including some references to its development in the context of Europe, all from the perspective of overcoming the technical change and market globalisation that tend to destabilise the productive system. It also emphasises how continuous training helps make the job market more flexible, not just as a way of improving the competitiveness of the economy but also as a resource for improving employability.
In the first chapter, the book’s authors provide a definition of the concept of continuous training and list its distinguishing features, taking into account its current contextualisation in the European arena and offering an approach to it from the perspective of lifelong learning, without neglecting the implications for the concept of the sociocultural and work-related changes that characterise our current social model. The second chapter, in the shadow of the institutionalisation of continuous training, starts by considering the importance training has acquired as working environments have demanded it, in parallel with the development of knowledge about the nature, structure, and functions of organisations, in order to address the role of public continuous training policies in the Spanish and European settings as well as the current orientation of training in organisations.
The third chapter contains a summary of modalities and methodological focuses in the field of continuous training, describing the models that are currently most common in the business world and dwelling on analysis of the face-to-face and ICT-mediated modalities. It also sets out the methodological strategies that have to guide its planning. In turn, chapter four, which focusses on the design and implementation of continuous training, condenses theoretical principles and guidelines for planning training programmes. In particular, it offers an initial approach to the question based on evaluating training needs and identifying priority techniques, sources, and criteria. Of course, planning is considered from the perspective of objectives, content, training strategies, resources, and certain basic guidelines that could be of interest. In this regard, the work refers to the transfer of the lessons planned in the implementation phase, describing this process by identifying basic premises and verifying suitable conditions for its planning.
Chapter five is dedicated to the profesional profile of those responsible for continuous training, with a special mention for the question of professional identity. The authors provide a detailed description of functions, roles, and powers, as well as examining the dimensions, settings, and trends that characterise these professionals’ training. The chapter ends by analysing dual professional training as another notable context for ntervention, especially given its standing as a pedagogical intervention in organisations. Indeed, the analysis of this mode relating to its benefits is especially interesting, as the authors identify it as a good strategy for the potential employability of young people.
The authors end the work with an evaluation of continuous training, defining it as an excellent indicator of innovation. Among other reasons, this is because it fosters awareness of the importance of continuous training, but also because it facilitates taking responsibility for achieving targets and considering certain elements for improving training activities. Therefore, if we want to provide valuable and useful information about achievements at the same time as designing processes for improvement relating to future decisions, we must evaluate not only the outcomes but also the implementation of each proposal.
It is hard to participate in a debate about continuous training without understanding it as a key instrument for confronting the challenges technological and economic globalisation have imposed on the relationship between qualifications and training. But there is no doubt that continuous training also faces major challenges, more than a few of which require coherent proposals that position it as a flexible tool for reacting coherently to the most pressing needs of companies and workers.
Ultimately, this is a well-argued work based on analysis of a type of training which, as well as positively affecting employability at a very good moment, also demands learning environments be designed that prepare workers for an ever more versatile and competitive labour market.
Flexibility, functionality, efficiency and innovation are the new requirements of continuous training, which has undergone a notable development over the last decade, thanks both to the existence of public policies aimed at providing funding for it and greater awareness in organisations as it is made a cornerstone of training their employees.
In other words, the message here is to pay closer attention to the activities that, regardless of their type, contribute to training an organisation’s personnel, recognising it as an effective tool that can respond to the real needs of the socioeconomic setting in search of greater employability.
Jesús García Álvarez ■