This was originally published on Forbes.com and appears in full below.
By Frank Britt, Grads of Life
It’s time to reimagine—and democratize—corporate training. In too many companies, training is seen either as C-suite perk or a reward to the internal department that makes the best pitch for the available dollars. There is a better way to view and implement corporate training; it should be return on investment (ROI)-focused and individualized.
Certainly, the training investment is happening. According to Bersin by Deloitte’s annual Corporate Learning Factbook, U.S. businesses spent 10 percent more on corporate training in 2015 than in 2014—good news on many fronts. First, it answers the desire of employers to hire and promote from within: if workers are training in company-supported programs, there is a greater sense of confidence the employees have the skills and knowledge necessary to move up and into new positions.
Second, increased investment in training indicates greater financial confidence on the part of employers because it is one of the first pieces of discretionary spending to go in times of uncertainty. In other words, when corporate training increases, it’s a good sign the economy is trending upwards.
Still, management and leadership are the areas for which spending on corporate training remains the greatest. A reimagining of corporate training can attribute investment in training a specific person directly to how that employee’s capabilities and productivity have improved, no matter where they reside in the organization. In short, corporate training would be democratized.
There are many reasons why democratization makes sense. Learning content has exploded and there is a subtle but significant shift starting. Companies are starting to recognize that “gray collar” and blue collar jobs also require training dollars.
Consider the notion of investing more in younger, less experienced employees. This is a group ready-made for corporate training. They are enthusiastic, brimming with new and exciting ideas on how to move companies forward, and generally more willing to make and adapt to changes than their older, more experienced colleagues. I’m not suggesting putting all training dollars behind younger employees, but in distributing funds out to reach all employees.
Indeed, the need has never been greater for robust training programs for employees across the spectrum of a business. We must move from simply better managing spending to focusing on empowering workers to learn at-will across a host of training and HR platforms and vendors. Creating a culture of independent, self-paced learners takes the onus of training off of the employer, and empowers the employee to learn what they want, when they want.
As a practical step toward democratization of corporate training, companies would reallocate training dollars to younger employees, middle management and front-line workers. It’s easier to do that now because there is better technology and ability to track a full view of employees’ learning, with the unified aim of building a cross-section of skills. Training can also be more efficient today – it’s less expensive to get it to employees and it’s more effective because it can be more personalized.
Currently, there are three general categories of training for workers outside of top management:
Wouldn’t it make more sense to package training in flexible modules of content that can be assembled around a student or facility, rather than requiring learners to follow prepackaged curricula? This would give employees access to the best content and allow companies to better track all learning and gain deeper insights into employee’s knowledge and skill sets. Over time, this approach would create unique training pathways for each employee and drive even higher ROI on training spending.
That’s how to efficiently and effectively democratize corporate training—with each employee receiving personalized offerings tailored to individual and company needs.
Frank is the Chief Executive Officer of Penn Foster, the leading provider of ed-tech enabled workforce solutions for students and employers in training and selection of front-line workers, with more than 150,000 active students.
For more information about forward-thinking talent practices, go to the Grads of Life website at GradsofLife.org.
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