Should SMEs develop in-house training resources?

Companies of different sizes manage training in different ways. Small companies with a dozen or so employees can provide instruction to their staff by simply talking to them, while at the other end of the scale, large employers have HR departments and Learning & Development teams. Between these micro and large organisations are many SMEs who face a challenge in providing their staff with the knowledge they require. This includes engineering, manufacturing and construction companies.

Often there are no suitable external training courses or the cost of the course or loss of staff time makes them impractical. External training can be too generic and the new skills are not used back in the office. Another challenge for employers is providing instruction for those working on a building site or in a factory.

The solution is for employers to take charge and develop their own training programmes and create valuable how-to guides.

For many this is a daunting task and below I explore the barriers that may stop employers developing the resources to build a learning culture.

"We do not provide very much in-house training"

Think again. Many employers do not deliver training in a conventional classroom based way. However most employers have induction programmes, deliver tool box talks, give H&S updates, provide instructions about new procedures and updates to improve quality. Learning takes place all the time, but it is not always timetabled and called training.

"We are too busy to capture information"

In the past the cost of gathering information for training programmes or instruction guides made it unrealistic for most SMEs. However this is no longer the case and there are many low cost tools that employers can use to capture and share valuable information. Educationalists call it 'Content Curation' we call it a practical way of providing employees with the knowledge they require.

"We have a very small training budget which limits what we can do"

This is even more reason to explore and share free resources. YouTube is full of instruction videos and manufacturers have resources employers can use.

"We are not trainers and we bore our staff with uninspiring PowerPoint"

The range of tools that can be used to create resources has increased dramatically. It is now possible to make vibrant training resources or how-to guides without expensive software.

"We are not very organised and worry that out-of-date information may be used"

Making information available 24/7 is important and this is now possible as the range of document sharing tools expands. This can be simple file sharing, project management software or learning management systems.

"We need to improve our training records to prove competency and compliance"

Again the range tools available to prove competency has increased dramatically. There are lots of ways of capturing evidence from workplace and systems to provide automatic reminders of mandatory training.

In conclusion

It can be challenging for employers to take charge of in-house training but the rewards are great. Employers will have a real commercial advantage if they can beat the skills shortages that are often highlighted in the business press.

Many FE colleges are providing employers with information about the use of learning technologies in the workplace. G Acceleration is able to work with employers helping them introduce in-house training solutions and find new ways of sharing information.

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Gerald Crittle is the owner of G Acceleration who provide a range of practical support services for both employers and training providers. He has extensive experience of vocational and workplace training after he established and managed Clarkson Evans Training, a national award winning provider of apprenticeships.

His knowledge of learning technologies also comes from firsthand experience after managing the Technology Exemplar Network on behalf of BECTA.

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