Skills, Training, & IngenuityPosted: 7th of May 2015 by
There is a lot of talk of skills and training these days, especially when it comes to apprenticeships and, as the votes from the General Election are counted it is clear that, whoever wins, apprenticeships will be big news in the coming years. On-the-job training and learning how to do a job properly are one thing – but what about ingenuity? Is there space for using your initiative to get a job done in the midst of all this talk of skills, training, and procedure? Or are we moving to a time where doing a job in a certain, set manner will outweigh ingenuity?
The Second World War General, George Patton once famously said, “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity,” and there is a certain truth to his words. As humans we have the ability to solve problems and devise unique solutions to situations – and of course, there are plenty of ways to overcome a problem.
However, while Patton’s words make a good quote, they don’t tell the whole story. Give someone with no mechanical training the job of fixing a car and I would argue that no amount of ‘ingenuity’ would help overcome the lack of basic knowledge. Equally, you could sit someone down in front of a computer and ask them to make a program, but without the required coding skills they would surely struggle.
Ingenuity is a good thing, but only when it is allied with a certain amount of relevant knowledge. This is why apprenticeships and other training courses are important. They provide the ground-work, the foundations upon which ingenuity can be built.
There is no shame in not knowing something – we all started out as babies, not knowing how to walk, talk, or feed ourselves. Yet, as the years go by we all learn how to do these things. We learn how to read, write, calculate sums, and many other skills besides. Yes, some of us are better at certain things than others, but even a perceived ‘talent’ has to be based upon a certain amount of training or knowledge.
It may not always be glamourous or exciting, but it is fundamental to learn the basics of whatever it is you want to do, and this is where an apprenticeship can make a difference. Learning a skill or trade without wasting time on trial and error will set you up to develop the ingenious solutions that General Patton spoke of.
So, while you may dream of some lofty ambition or other, it is important to lay the foundations first. Without them your dreams may not be built on the strong basis that will see them hold up in the real world. For all the talk of ‘overnight success’ that you hear in the media, you can bet that each one was actually some years in the making.
Getting the basics learnt is fundamental to any career or job, and an apprenticeship is one route to do exactly that. It’s a bit of a cliché, but you really do need to learn to walk before you can run!
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