The technical workforce is often saddled with the responsibility of the most difficult—and often the most dangerous—jobs in the world today. And for decades, technical organizations have faced a widening skills gap. This is a problem that cannot be ignored.
Ensuring that your workforce has the skills to perform at its highest potential is vital to the success of your organization and to the safety of each individual worker. Here are several ways you can create more impactful and relevant training for your technical workforce.
The Keys to Better Technical Workforce Training
There’s an old aphorism: To a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. To illustrate the metaphor, someone trying to sell your organization an off-the-shelf, one-size-fits-all training program will likely identify many ways their solution will help you improve. Just because you can potentially improve certain job functions by using a solution doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for you. On the other hand, customized training isn’t always the solution either, especially since training budget dollars are typically precious. It’s impossible to choose the right training solution unless you understand exactly what you need and for whom.
1. Understand Your Learners with a Needs Analysis
The first step to developing training programs that address widening skills gaps should be to compare where your workforce currently is to where you need it to be. Beginning your transformation with an understanding of the specific job duties, and the skills necessary for individual roles, will allow you to put in place tools that truly support those roles. Beginning with an understanding of the work will also help you to align your training to your overall organizational vision.
Analyzing the situation will help ensure you select the right tools, modalities, and solutions to properly fit the specific needs of your workforce. All solutions should support the learner in the moment of need and be scalable to various personas. A typical learning assessment can also include a design session, allowing your organization to workshop solutions for a full project or workforce life cycle.
2. Choose a Solution Aligned to Real Business Needs
It is also critical to align training solutions to fit your specific business needs. Offering more and more training often does not solve the root cause of organizational misfires. In environments where new technology seems to be introduced daily, training budgets have never been tighter. The first step to ensuring that you are maximizing your budget, time, and resources is to identify your current business state and the skills gap that you need to address to make a real impact.
Sometimes training isn’t the only solution—modality, frequency, and innovation help drive change, too. To avoid chaos from making too many changes at once, be sure to communicate business goals and objectives with all stakeholders.
3. Determine the Right Learning Modality
Many organizations seek ways to further innovate and provide blended solutions to meet their specific workforce needs. Hands-on learning in the field is valuable but can take a lot of time, so it’s important to consider which training (as a whole or in part) can be self-paced or virtual. Because learning needs differ from person to person, and position to position—organizations can absolutely provide some professional development opportunities via a virtual or hybrid model.
Hybrid work is here to stay, and that means hybrid learning is here to stay. However, virtual learning is not appropriate for every position, especially in technical environments. Maintenance training, for example, should typically be hands-on with the use of simulations and field exercises, or it can even be part of a learning experience that uses virtual reality or extended reality.
Keeping Your Technical Training Relevant
Strengthening your technical workforce’s training is essential to bridge skills gaps and ensure the success and safety of your technical workforce. A customized and strategic approach is necessary to address the root causes of the skills gap, to really understand your learners, and to make efficient use of your resources. This approach will empower your technical workforce—and your organization—to excel.
For more information about creating great technical talent, check out our recent eBook, Crafting Technical Talent: Best Practices for Building and Maintaining a Technical Workforce.