Knowing there will be challenges ahead is a given. Actually knowing what those challenges look like and being prepared to meet them is the key to success. Last month, the ASA Education Foundation Board of Trustees met to take on the challenges ahead for our industry and build a plan for success. The journey included a look back at how far the foundation’s value has progressed, consideration of where we are today, and a serious look at where we need to go as an organization to fully support the membership and the industry to meet our goal - ASA members will attract, develop, and retain a labor force that will become the best-educated, best-trained and most professional in the industry.

Dirk Beveridge, innovator and distribution specialist, encouraged the trustees (see sidebar) to think big and challenge the status quo. The group first celebrated its more recent achievements– industry-specific training, ASA University, ASA-U Advisory Service, Master of Distribution Management Program, additional resources and templates for talent management – and then dug in deeper when it came time to peer into the future. The mega trends, market dynamics, and disruptors that ultimately affect industry needs and training such as technology trends, political and environmental situations, as well as economic and social environments were considered and discussed. The need for efficient, on-demand, and effective training, customizable solutions and “cultures of learning” were identified. Work-life balance for the employees, attracting talent from outside the industry and the anticipated career pathways for those entering the workforce were grappled with.

The result – a plan for the future that supports a change of culture within our industry, prepares the ASA membership for dramatic shifts in the workplace, and ultimately attracts and retains new employees. In order for our industry to successfully appeal to the best employees, it is critical that the membership be prepared to meet the demands of new employees. Throughout the discussions, it was also apparent that it is not only the requirements from the new, younger generation entering the workforce that need to be considered, but also those of the aging workforce who will choose to remain. Talent management, or processes designed to attract, develop, motivate and retain productive, engaged employees will be a key focus of the Education Foundation’s efforts going forward. Additional priorities include:

  • Establishing ASA University as the standard by which employees are measured by ensuring that a member’s workforce has the skills and knowledge to effectively perform their roles.

  • Expanding ASA University to become the resource for learning-management solutions with high-quality, proprietary content delivered in innovative and effective ways.

  • Championing the industry as an “industry of choice” by providing workforce planning, increased employee engagement and recognition, and overall change-management support.

A profound metric was shared during the course of the trustees meeting - a report by IBM finds 84% of employees in best-performing organizations receive the training they need, compared to 16% in the worst-performing companies. Be the Best.

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All the work of the Education Foundation is made possible by the support of the Karl E. Neupert Endowment Fund and members of this industry who have committed to provide a sustainable trajectory for themselves, their companies and the industry.