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What is training and development?

Training and development programs typically involve educational activities that advance a worker’s knowledge and instill greater motivation to enhance job performance. These initiatives help employees learn and acquire new skill sets, as well as gain the professional knowledge that is required to progress their careers.

Types of training and development

Training programs can be created independently or with a learning administration system, with the goal of employee long-term development. Common training practices include orientations, classroom lectures, case studies, role playing, simulations and computer-based training, including e-learning.

Sometimes referred to as Human Resource Development (HRD), most employee training and development efforts are driven by an organization’s HRD function. These efforts are roughly divided into two types of programs:

Employee Training and Development
A strategic tool for improving business outcomes by implementing internal educational programs that advance employee growth and retention.

Management Training and Development
The practice of growing employees into managers and managers into effective leaders by the ongoing enhancement of certain knowledge, skills, and abilities.

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Why is training and development important?

Successful businesses understand that it’s more beneficial and cost-effective to develop their existing employees instead of seeking out new talent.

The top ten benefits of employee training and development programs include:

  • Increased productivity: When employees stay current with new procedures and technologies, they can increase their overall output.

  • Reduced micromanagement: If workers feel empowered to perform a task, they typically require less oversight and work more independently.1

  • Train future leaders: Organizations must have a solid pipeline of well-trained and innovative potential leaders to grow and adapt over time.

  • Increased job satisfaction and retention: Well-trained employees gain confidence in their abilities, leading to greater job satisfaction, a reduction in absenteeism and overall employee retention.

  • Attract highly skilled employees: Top recruits are attracted to firms with an identifiable career path based on consistent training and development.  

  • Increased consistency: Well-organized training ensures that tasks are performed uniformly, resulting in tight quality control that end users can trust.

  • Increased camaraderie: Training and development helps create a sense of teamwork and collaboration.

  • Bolstered safety: Continuous training and development helps ensure that employees have the knowledge and skills to perform a task safely.

  • Ability to cross-train: Providing consistent training creates a knowledgeable team overall where employees can help train or assist each other as needed.

  • Added innovation: Consistently trained employees can help develop new strategies and products, contributing to the company’s bottom line and continued success.
Current trends in training and development

The corporate marketplace is quickly changing, and businesses must be flexible and easily adapt to change. Technology is one of the key drivers in this rapid change, with automation and artificial intelligence (AI) in the forefront.

Here are four key trends impacting how organizations must rethink training and development.

Remote mobile training

Today’s corporations have discovered that it’s no longer just about what employees need to know, but also when, where and how the development experience enables performance. With the advancements in mobile technology, companies are relying more on mobile workforces. Training is migrating to mobile devices where apps provide “just-in-time” information and recommendations to workers across industries.

AI training

AI systems can process unstructured information in a similar way to humans. These systems understand language patterns and sensory inputs including text, pictures, and auditory cues. AI-based software can customize how training content is delivered to a learner, based on their learning style, suggest content based on a learner’s past performance and predict what information is most important for them to learn next.

Agile learning

Agile learning is a process that encourages employees to learn by doing and iterate often, inspiring organizational change and buy-in. For example, IBM® has introduced IBM Garage™, a tool for executing, scaling, and managing an organization’s multiple transformation initiatives. Companies like Ford Motor Company and Travelport are using IBM Garages around the world to create cultures of open collaboration and continuous learning. learning. https://www.ibm.com/garage

Remote flexible learning models

While distance learning has been around for a long time, the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need for companies to have resilient, flexible, mobile workforce management. Organizations have learned that remote workforces need to be productive, engaged, and continually working toward learning and improvement.

Training and development challenges

Recent articles and industry surveys suggest that much corporate training may be ineffective. Most training won’t be fully retained by learners. Businesses must build a culture of ongoing self-directed, self-motivated learning with focused distance learning programs and mobile "just-in-time" training.

Organizations also must rethink the larger framework of what skills will be needed in the near future. A recent meta-level IBM study predicts that more than 120 million workers in the world’s twelve largest economies may need to be retrained in the next three years because of AI-enabled automation.

Several insights from the study include:

  • Skilled humans fuel the global economy: Digital skills remain vital, but soft skills have become more important.

  • Skills availability and quality are in jeopardy: The half-life of skills continues to shrink, while the time it takes to close a skills gap has ballooned, forcing organizations to find ways to stay ahead of skills relevancy.

  • Intelligent automation is an economic game changer: Millions of workers will likely require retraining and learning new skills, and most companies and countries are ill-prepared for the task.

  • Organizational cultures are shifting: The digital era has introduced the need for a new business model, new ways of working and a flexible culture that fosters the development of critical new skills.

The study concludes that traditional hiring and training are no longer as effective, and that different strategies and tactics can have a strong impact on closing the skills gap. Several strategies and tactics include:

  • Make it personal: Tailor career skills, and learning development experience uniquely to your employees' goals and interests.

  • Improve transparency: Place skills at the center of the training strategy and aim for deep visibility into the skills position across the organization.

  • Look inside and out: Adopt an open technology architecture and a set of partners able to take advantage of the latest advancements.
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1 The 6 key secrets to increasing empowerment in your team (link resides outside ibm.com). Joe Folkman. Forbes article. March 2017.