Time in Training Often Wasted

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One in three workers thinks the time he spent in his last training session probably would have been better spent elsewhere, according to a survey by Hudson, a staffing and consulting services company.

Among these workers, 12 percent think the training was a complete waste of their time.

Although the poll did not ask the 1,674 respondents what their jobs were, Rose Pagliari, an associate director with Hudson’s Learning and Development Group, says the results are relevant to IT workers. “Technology is constantly changing, and for these workers to stay abreast of what’s happening in the market, they need to keep their skills up-to-date,” she says.

Self-improvement was the main reason for participation in training; 68 percent of respondents said they attended training because they thought it would provide useful, job-related information. Another 28 percent said they were told to go. The remaining 3 percent went to training to meet people or to get out of the office.

Pagliari says that for IT training programs to be worthwhile, they need to combine the teaching of new technology skills with education about softer skills, such as business, communication and negotiation, “giving [workers] the ability to become well-rounded businesspeople.”

According to the survey, employees with the highest incomes are the most likely to participate in and benefit from training. However, lower-income employees are the most likely to pursue future training opportunities.

P

agliari says that companies usually invest more in training for their high-income employees because they are further along in their careers and make a more direct contribution to their company’s bottom line. In addition, she says, higher-income workers—because they already have specialized skills—often get more out of training because it’s more targeted to their needs. But training of lower-paid employees can help companies attract and retain talent.

Best Practices:

1] Match training to jobs. Training should be related to employees’ job requirements and the skills they need to perform their work. Choose a training program that will teach employees skills that are in demand in their profession or that they will utilize within one to two months of taking the class. This is the best way to ensure that employees get the maximum benefit, Pagliari says.

2] Prepare workers ahead of time. Make sure employees meet any prerequisites for their training and know enough about the subject (including what they want to take away from the course) to actively participate. If the training is not appropriate for employees’ level of expertise, or if they lack enough experience and background knowledge, the training will be a waste of their time and the company’s money.

3] Follow up. It’s hard to tell how effective a training program has been until after the employees have been back on the job for awhile. According to Pagliari, a positive change in an employee’s job performance is the best way to measure success.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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