Any metric you look at will guide you to a similar conclusion: staff training and professional development makes good business sense for a variety of reasons:
- Training increases employee engagement, and their sense of value
- Training increases productivity
- Training reduces the risk of safety hazards and accidents
- Training and professional development creates a great corporate culture
For training managers, the questions can be seemingly very simple: Which program to adopt?
But, like with every other department, there is also the bottom line to consider. There are several costs to consider:
- How do the costs of one training program measure up to its competitors?
- Which training program will offer the biggest bang for the buck?
- How do you measure the value and the success of the training initiative?
- How to measure the value proposition and costs of online courses versus in-house training versus off-site training, etc.
It’s really about the Return on Investment (ROI).
Familiarity vs Proficiency
First things first. What are you hoping to achieve with this training effort? Familiarity or proficiency? These are two very different objectives.
What type of professional development are you looking for?
Some types of training simply require familiarity or a modest amount of experience. For example, a maintenance technician is generally well versed in things like plumbing, carpentry, electrical and masonry but only needs to be familiar with Microsoft PowerPoint.
That same technician would require a sufficient level of expertise—that is to say be proficient—at electrical troubleshooting. This is because it requires significant skill as a mistake could cost large sums of money in downtime, accidents or worse yet, potential loss of life.
The truth of the matter is this: proficiency does not just happen, it takes practice. A lot of practice, be it in real life situations or in simulated environments.
Aircraft pilot training is a perfect example. Although today’s technologies allow planes to almost take off and land on their own, a pilot is still required to fly the plane. Should the plane encounter any difficulties during flight, everyone on board relies on the pilot’s skills to land the plane safely. These skills are second nature after thousands of hours of practice in both simulation and real life environments.
Many Different Tools and Options
How do you want to train your team?
There are several different options—purchase a book and have your team teach themselves, send your team out on instructor-led training, online courses and in-house self-directed learning—just to name a few.
The Textbook Approach
Textbooks contain a wealth of information. Most provide a thorough and complete level of education on any given topic. The question is this: how many can complete a textbook on their own without being led by an instructor? Further, how much of that textbook does one remember a month or even a year after it is completed?
Textbooks are expensive. This one is $139. No doubt anyone reading this will be familiar with industrial electrical troubleshooting concepts, but will the reader then be proficient at industrial electrical troubleshooting after simply reading a book?
We know that there is an element of practice required prior to proficiency.
Much like textbooks, online courses provide a wealth of valuable information. The additional benefit is having a real or virtual instructor lead the participant through the course. Overall, costs for online courses tend to be similar to text books although there are some exceptions where online courses run at a much higher cost.
Once more, the question of familiarity vs. proficiency. Do participants get enough tangible practice to be proficient after an online course? More often than not, they do not.
Off-Site Instructor-Led Training
You have found a course that covers everything you need taught. The course is in Miami, but your plant is in Wisconsin. Your budget will withstand the cost:
Cost Per Person
- Flight – $500
- Hotels – $600 (3 nights)
- Food – $200
- Employee Salary while away Over time to replace employee while away – ($2000?)
That’s a total of $5300 per person!
The cost of your course (which is not listed above) has suddenly jumped in price to more than $5000 of the initial course cost! No doubt that this will provide a richer experience for the participant, but it begs the question, how much will the participant retain after one month, six months or even a year? Will this course really provide proficiency?
On-Site Instructor-Led Training
You have found a course, and there is an option to bring a trainer to your facility to train your team. This is very similar to off-site instructor led training, but ultimately, this is a more expensive proposition.
Not only do you pay for the trainer’s flight, accommodations, salary and food, you also must bear the cost of your team being off the plant floor in training and the additional cost of those replacing them. Once again, the question of proficiency—will these participants be familiar with the subject material or proficient?
Proficiency requires practice and is developed over time. The skill-based, hands on experience required to sustain operational performance of a cost-effective and productive plant is developed over time.
The Best of All Worlds
How about a training system that features virtual instructor-led course material as well as a simulation-based environment for participants to get tangible, hands-on, practical experience? Consider, Simutech Multimedia’s Troubleshooting Training System™, a training system providing participants both the practicum and practical experience to allow them to become not only proficient but experts in the field of electrical troubleshooting.
Take, for example, Simutech’s Troubleshooting Motor Circuits. This course allows participants to:
- Learn the principles of operating typical motor circuits and their components using guides, labs and simulations.
- Develop principles of operating typical motor circuits and their components using guides, labs and simulations
- Master effective testing methods and techniques for safely finding opens and shorts in electrical circuits.
- Troubleshoot more than 45 motor circuit faults of varying difficulties.
The system assesses participant’s ability to troubleshoot—meaning users are assessed on the amount of time and cost that it takes to troubleshoot a fault. This practical hands-on training allows users to both practice and gain experience that easily translates into real world professional development.
The beauty of this system is that it allows for continual practice allowing participants to continually perfect their skills, much the same way pilots continue to practice in flight simulators.