Category Archives: Training

Training Programs in Today’s Enterprise

2014-08-20 15_04_32-Company Overview

With the myriad choices available to the training professional, there is more technology and more tools available today than ever before to create the most relevant and impactful training possible, which can be tailored to a learner’s preferences. Learners know enough now to expect these technologies to adapt to their workflows and preferences, not the other way around. In the recent past, these technology cycles have only continued to accelerate and have consequently allowed organizations to have immediate access to an arsenal of tools.
For example, over the last five years there has been a two-fold increase in the number of Cloud and mobile tools for learning – highlighting that these are no longer nice-to-have for learning programs but they need to be a strategic part of any comprehensive learning plan (Aberdeen Research). We’ve reached a point where training professionals need to begin looking at technology and asking not, “Can the (tool) do this?” but “What is the best tool to use” This simple shift will help get to the root issue: media habits have changed, and outdated approaches will generate increasingly poor results. Training leaders need to make sure that their technology choices are not only the best for the job at hand but also allow their learners to access their programs however they need to.

Treating Learners like Customers

The distinction between training and marketing is becoming more blurred. For example, associations compete to create perceived value and then need to sustain this value, often through member-training programs. Similarly, technology, service, and product-based companies use free and (some are not-free) training opportunities to create more valued touch-points and to help maximize their customers’ usage and benefits from their respective products and services.

In all of these cases, creating training programs and training events helps drive company awareness and branding and is essential to build customer loyalty. Since the value and effectiveness of customer education and training so significantly expands marketing reach and effectiveness, learning professionals and marketers need to stop thinking of marketing and training as two separate engagements that happen at different times. Marketing can use training events to improve their outcomes, and training professionals can use marketing approaches and tools to improve their program’s effectiveness.

Changing Workforce Demographics
By 2025 the workforce will be dominantly made up of Millenials. These Learners are more comfortable with technology and expect more. Simply put, learning audiences are getting more familiar with advanced technologies and strategies. They see sophisticated technology and thinking incorporated into everything from smart phone apps to web design to social media. This integration of learning, branding, and point-of-need training is a primary driver of change.

Moving forward, we anticipate a business environment with sophisticated learners who expect instructionally sound techniques, paired with rich-media content and social interactions. However, research is showing that only 39% of firms plan to increase that budget in the next 12 months to emphasize employee engagement and meet these demands (Aberdeen Research). With smart strategies and the right technologies, you can often improve employee and partner engagement without additional costs.

Are You Still Doing Too Much By Hand?

Primary research with clients and prospective clients shows that this particular business process is still ripe for automation: surprisingly, over 72% of businesses still manage and administer their learning programs manually, based on a 2013 MarketsandMarkets report. Other syndicated research by Wainhouse Research and IDC has calculated that businesses spend over $25, on average, to manually manage and administer each registration for their Learning Programs; a total market cost exceeding $100B annually!

Businesses are wasting significant resources, both financial and human, to manage and administer their training, education and learning development programs, including learning programs for the Extended Enterprise: educating customers, users, and partners, etc.

The most successful companies approach training with real business results in mind, a plan to map and measure the impact of training, and a performance sustainment model that allows for real-time assessment of the program. Rapid training responses can then be implemented when any metric drops below certain standards. Training leaders play a key role in the successful execution of the overall business strategy. A responsive, intelligent training strategy is key to staying competitive in today’s hyper-connected 24×7 market.

Training Challenges Affecting Technology Companies

Most technology companies claim a shortfall in qualified employees, despite persistently high levels of unemployment. Despite employers’ complaints about the education system, college students are pursuing more vocationally oriented course work than ever before, with degrees in highly specialized fields like pharmaceutical marketing and retail logistics. However, companies do far less training of new employees than they did in the past, expecting them to “hit the ground running” when the join the organization. Most apprenticeship programs have disappeared, along with many management-training programs. And the amount of training that the average new hire gets in the first year or so could be measured in hours and counted on the fingers of one hand. The shortage of opportunities to learn on the job helps explain the phenomenon of people queueing up for unpaid internships to get access to a situation where they can work free to get access to valuable on-the-job experience. Interestingly, only about 10% of the people in IT jobs during the Silicon Valley tech boom of the 1990s had IT-related degrees.

Community colleges in many states have proved to be good partners with employers by tailoring very applied course work to the specific needs of the employer. Candidates qualify to be hired once they complete the courses—which they pay for themselves, at least in part. For instance, a manufacturer might require that prospective job candidates first pass a course on quality control or using certain machine tools. Going back to school isn’t just for new hires, either; it also works for internal candidates. In this setup, the employer pays the tuition costs through tuition reimbursement. But the employees make the bigger investment by spending their own time, almost always off work, learning the material.

Many companies rely primarily on buying the talent they need, often at a high premium and with marginal retention rates. Most technology companies develop a “make-buy” strategy that included both buying key talent to fill immediate gaps and utilizing a longer-term approach of developing highly capable leaders. Companies recognize that the leaders they need to meet the demands of the more challenging world of the 21st century would have to be cross-functional, people-centric leaders. Technology companies today are global, and their development programs must focus on high-potential (HIPOT) early career leaders across the company and across all major functions, ranging from college graduate, entry-level communications, contracts, and finance recruits to Master’s-level graduates in business development, HR, information technology, and supply chain. Programs that are built around a development curriculum that includes experiential learning in the form of rotational assignments, executive-level involvement, and functional and cross-functional learning opportunities are the ones that have the most likelihood of succeeding.


The Role of Employee Certification in Manufacturing

Manufacturers are now actively participating in the development and training of skilled production workers they need to remain competitive. They are also engaging partners like community colleges, manufacturing organizations, training providers and government resources. The National Association of Manufacturers-endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certification System, and the NAM-affiliated Manufacturing Institute, training organization ACT Inc., the National Institute for Metalworking Skills and the president’s Jobs Council are all providing certification systems for qualified candidates. Manufacturers have also reintroduced the apprenticeship, which once had been commonplace among machine tool makers. MAG’s reinvigorated apprenticeship program mirrors some aspects of the training programs employed by large manufacturers such as Permac and ArcelorMittal.  Troubleshooting issues with newly manufactured products is one critical skill that apprenticeship programs provide.  “It is one thing to be able to assemble a product and apply the electrical and all the elements to the product, but it is another thing when you build a product and it doesn’t operate the way you want it to. To troubleshoot the product and understand why it is doing what it is doing, takes a lot of skill and experience”, says Bill Horwarth, president, MAG Global Services.

The Manufacturing Skills Standards Council (MSSC) began providing skills standards in 2001, focusing on  the major concentrations of manufacturing:  Production; Quality Assurance; Logistics & Inventory Control; Maintenance, Installation and Repair; Health, Safety & Environment; and Product Process Development.  It subsequently began credentialing in 2005, and endorsed the instructor certification program developed by the IN Labor Institute for Training and Amatrol in 2006. In 2009 MSSC launched a new, industry-led training and credentialing system for front-line material handling workers in supply chain logistics at the International Logistics Show organized by the Material Handling Industry Association. More recently, in 2012 ANSI announced its accreditation of MSSC’s certification programs under the Institute’s Accreditation Program for Personnel Certification Bodies.  Accreditation by ANSI created a valuable distinction for MSSC’s credentialing programs.

The American Society of Quality (ASQ) is the leading authority on career-boosting certifications for quality professionals and provides a wide range of certifications for manufacturing quality staff.  Finally, the Manufacturing Institute is working with manufacturing certification organizations who are the world market leaders in skills certification programs. This collaborative effort resulted in an organization of the certification programs, and the credentials they offer, into a system of “stackable credentials” that can be awarded in post-secondary education.


The Role of Training in Healthcare Today


The entire healthcare value chain is changing – driven both by regulatory and policy changes (including the Affordable Healthcare and the Health Information Technology Acts in the United States), as well as the move to consumerize healthcare and make it more cost-effective. In parallel, healthcare and other enterprises are being challenged to keep up with ever-rapid changes in science and technology, as well as innovative new business models. The rise of employer-driven preventive healthcare, new tools and trackers, and the “Quantified Self”, amongst others, is forcing healthcare providers and payers alike to adapt continuously and experiment regularly. Sam Palmisano, President and CEO of IBM, expressed this succinctly:

“The nature of competition and the forces of innovation shift the frontiers of science, business and technology at a rate we’ve never seen before. Which is why expertise is not static. To be competitive, any individual – like any company, community or country – has to adapt continuously, learning new fields and new skills….We need a workforce model that recognizes this shift. As always, the really hard part is culture and mindset.”

Since both employee training and patient education require a comprehensive training management process, it is best to build the case for training by first determining the organization’s business goals, then determining to which part of the (extended) enterprise would the application of knowledge, information or training further that goal, and finally by determining what specific measures would indicate that the training program had been successful. Armed with this knowledge, the training administrator can then orient the business objectives, learning objectives, target audience, availability and modality of training resources, and training process management tools to achieving the selected business goal.

One can see the importance of a centralized training process administration system if one follows the patient journey through a modern healthcare organization. Typically, this follows seven key steps:

  • Patient Orientation – Whereby the patient is given information about diagnosis, prognosis, treatment and lifestyle options.
  • Patient Education Planning – Whereby individual education plans are constructed for each patient based on their personal health profile, demographic information, etc.
  • Patient Education Implementation – Whereby different modalities (demonstration, written, online, mobile, etc.) are optimized to provide the patient with continuous education via the “Five A’s” principle, described above.
  • Discharge/Instructions – Whereby the patient is informed of the recommended processes, systems, and treatments they should follow in order to effect the best prognosis for their particular symptoms.
  • Documentation – Whereby all of the patient education modules, modalities and methodologies are reported on, providing useful analytics and actionable information to healthcare providers in order to modify and optimize the training process.
  • Monitor & Follow-Up – Whereby the training programs, their effectiveness, and review of patient health and wellness are coordinated in order to ensure the appropriateness and applicability of the patient education process.