On-the-job training is widely known as the most effective training solution for vocational work, and this is for good reason! On-the-job training happens within the workplace and involves the actual tools, equipment, documents, and/or materials required for the job. Unlike off-the-job training, this training solution allows the employee to be a directly productive worker while undergoing training.
For our purposes, on-the-job training is considered to be a training solution for continued workforce development and does not include such generic training as co-operative or internship arrangements.
There are many advantages to on-the-job training. On-the-job training:
- Targets specific skills gaps.
- Is cost-effective and allows employees to train without taking them off the worksite.
- Ensures that employees learn the skills needed to become more productive.
- Provides employees with hands-on learning.
- Encourages the growth of professional relationships with other employees.
- Is tailored to the specific requirements of the employees’ individual positions.
On-the-job Training Solutions
On-the-job training can happen informally, or it can be planned. However, there are several disadvantages to informal on-the-job training solutions:
- Quality of training is dependent on the subject matter expert delivering the training.
- Bad habits of the subject matter expert could be passed on to new employees.
- The subject matter expert may not know how to properly assess employee learning.
- Consistent training may be difficult to achieve, especially when multiple subject matter experts are providing training to employees.
The Preferred On-the-job Training Approach
On-the-job training is most valuable when it conducted with a planned, competency-based approach. In a planned on-the-job training program, employees receive modular, self-directed learning materials that are based on the competencies actually required for the job. A planned training approach supports an organization’s strategic plans.
In a planned on-the-job training program, employees collaborate with mentors to create personalized skill development plans that determine how they will work on specific skills. The employees would work through the relevant modules, meeting with mentors to discuss progress. The modular format allows the employee to complete the training on a flexible schedule.
After completing a module, employees complete a self-evaluation, which is reviewed by the mentor. Mentors can be provided with assessment tools to help evaluate employee performance. The conversations between the employees and their mentors regarding performance assessments often become a learning opportunity in and of themselves.
With on-the-job training, employees can learn a skill, apply it, and receive a performance assessment – all within a familiar work environment!
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