The Hidden Gap in International Training – Why Expertise Isn’t Enough

The hidden gap

In the realm of international development, the provision of ad hoc training by the international donor community has long been a cornerstone strategy aimed at capacity-building and skill enhancement. While undoubtedly well-intentioned, an examination of this approach reveals a nuanced landscape where sustainability and developmental opportunities for learners in the workplace often remain elusive. This article seeks to explore the ad hoc training initiatives and vocational learning pathways, acknowledging both their contributions and the challenges they pose.

Ad hoc training, characterised by its spontaneous nature and often short-term focus, has been a prevalent feature of development assistance programs. These initiatives, frequently funded and facilitated by international donors, aim to address immediate skill gaps and empower individuals within recipient communities. However, the transient nature of such interventions raises pertinent questions about their long-term impact and sustainability. Lacking critical approaches in terms of needs assessments, sustainability planning and local ownership significantly reduces the benefit to the learner, the community and a real return on the investment by the donor. The longer-term consequences and risks include skills mismatch, where training does not truly align to roles and responsibilities; limited transferability, where skills learned may not be easily translated in to practical application in the workplace and a reliance on external support creating a dependency on ongoing donor assistance and funding.

Recognising these limitations, the international donor may consider moving towards a more sustainable and context-specific approach to training by investing more in local training institutions and empowering local trainers, fostering long-term capacity and reducing reliance on external support. Comprehensive needs assessments will ensure training programs align with specific workplace requirements and long-term development goals, whilst engaging stakeholders, including local governments, private sector, and training institutions, in design and delivery which promotes ownership and facilitates integration into existing systems. Promoting the development of a culture of continuous learning ensures skills remain relevant and adaptable in a changing environment.

Structured skill development with vocational pathway training offers a structured approach and the potential for competency-based assessment, tailored to individuals’ long-term career aspirations. This more considered approach training equips individuals with a comprehensive skill set essential for career advancement. By following a predefined pathway, learners systematically acquire skills relevant to their chosen field, ensuring sustained growth and success in their careers.

Building a sustainable skills pathway