A One-on-one with Doug Harward, CEO and managing partner of The Exceleration Group and founder of TrainingOutsourcing.com, and some surprising T&D Stats.
TrainingOutsourcing.com is the online home for the business strategy and outsourcing learning community. It delivers the latest on relevant business issues, processes, and practices as well as provide up-to-date news, trends, and research within the training industry.
HRO Today: Why should an organization consider outsourcing training and development?
Doug Harward: Organizations consider outsourcing their training services for some of the same business reasons as other functional areas, such as the need to focus on core business, reduce headcount, or shift fixed costs to variable activities. Training does differ in that it has the opportunity to directly contribute to the revenues and value of the corporation. Companies may use outsourced business partners to assist with customer training activities when needing to reach new geographic markets, or to help variabalize fixed costs associated with product training in fluctuating economic periods.
HRO Today: How has e-Learning changed the training and development industry?
DH: The advent of all forms of technology has changed the training industry. Access to information online, anytime and anyplace, has changed how we deliver knowledge-based services. How we deliver training asynchronously and synchronously has changed the industry and reduced the need for full-day programs, providing more on-demand-based learning. And the ability to simulate real work conditions through technology-based programs has revolutionized our ability to provide very expensive, high-risk, high-cost-of-failure job training. It is not just e-Learning which has changed the industry, but the advent of all forms of technology which has revolutionized how we access, develop, deliver, and administer these services.
HRO Today: How important is technology?
DH: Technology has become more than an enabler of learning, or a vehicle for the delivery of training content. Technology is now embedded in virtually every form of training and learning activities. From how we manage the administration of learning, to how we develop, maintain, and refresh content, to how we deliver knowledge-based information, technology has become the integrated platform for all learning services. Technology can be found in virtually all forms of training today, including the classroom, and in many regards, even in the most traditional forms of learning such as one-on-one, on-the-job training.
HRO Today: What are some trends you are noticing in training and development?
DH: Some of the most noticeable trends in training and development today include the recognition by senior executives the value created from training services to the corporation. Corporate executives are recognizing more and more that vendors’ ability to leverage the value of intellectual property into knowledge-based products can reap tremendous value for the company. Examples include how Cisco sells certification programs on its networking engineering principles, or how Clinique uses retail staff to teach customers how to apply cosmetic products at the point of purchase, or how military and emergency response personnel learn how to manage terrorist situations through simulation-based training created with the same technology as sports-gaming applications. Executives realize, more today than ever, that training is a value creator, not just a cost consumer of the corporate budget. Other trends also include the ongoing use of technology for administering, developing, and delivering learning programs. And we are now seeing more and more how the demand for North American knowledge-based courseware is being sought after by developing countries around the world.
HRO Today: What questions should one ask when looking for a T&D provider?
DH: Some of the first questions one should ask when seeking a training services provider include: Is the supplier a good cultural fit for our organization? Does this provider have the talent to lead change in our business, or is it assuming our current processes or is it able to introduce innovation? Is our provider financially sound to handle the volume of our business? Does it have the geographic reach to support our business in multiple markets; and is our provider more interested in leveraging its learning products through outsourced services, or is it able to diagnose our business issues and align learning
programs with our business objectives?
How effective is your training program? If you had to score your programs, you would probably give yourself an A+, but your employees would sing a different tune. According to a recent survey of 1,674 employees, 34 percent of workers expressed disappointment after attending recent employer-sponsored training sessions. The actual words used were “a total waste of time.” The professional development survey was conducted by Hudson. Of the respondents surveyed, 51 percent have attended company-led (or paid) training programs in the past year and another 50 percent are considering attending training sessions in 2006.
In our culture of self-improvement, employees are eager to attend training courses to give them an edge over their competition. Sixty-eight percent indicated they attended such programs to gain useful job-related information. Some companies offer incentives to employees who complete training programs, while others require attendance.
Age and work experience play a factor in training and development. Employees who made more than $60,000 annually and workers ages 40 to 49 were more likely to have participated in training programs than others, leading to the conclusion that employers invested more money in training higher-salaried workers. In response to questions of career planning and training, younger workers were more likely to have given thought to their professional future and seek out training and development opportunities.
It is estimated that organizations spend more than $51 billion on training and development each year. Training programs are an all-around win for employers—employee retention improves and companies save money on hiring.
For more information on the survey, a detailed report is available at www.hudson-index.com.