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on the job training


I work in the public sector and would like to know people's thoughts on the benefits of traditional on the job training as opposed to newer methods such as distance learning, e learning etc in order to help people learn how to do their jobs. Are the old methods of "sitting with nelly" still the best way?
Julie Swift

4 Responses

  1. On the job training
    Hi Julie,

    Whilst your question is generic, allow me to offer my opinion.

    I have spent many years on both sides of the fence, regarding OJT. In some situations I believe that it is the best form of training available, but formal evaluation must support this. In most roles, either new or old to the individual, some form of OJT is performed at all levels within the business. It may have a different title such as coaching or mentoring, but the process is very similar. This is where a good PDP and appraisal system should come into play.

    If you consider a typical classroom training scenario, whereby one attends a course of instruction, or a workshop; training and learning takes place. Aside from the individual learning styles and all the other variables involved, this is the only opportunity to ask questions and receive feedback. We are all too aware of the issues there! However, with OJT, coaching and mentoring, there are virtually endless opportunities (within reason) to give and receive feedback. Of more importance, this type of training is more conducive to a real learning environment.

    I subscribe to blended learning, a much debated term. Put another way, a mixture of methods and mediums to achieve the desired result, during and after training events. It is most unfortunate that many organisations do not differentiate between training and learning.

    Regarding the use of distance learning, e learning etc., this is a complete minefield. There is insufficient space allocated here for me to fully expand.

    E learning does have a place in the training arena, for many reasons. For example, when working abroad or in full time employment, distance learning by whichever medium, may be the best method of learning. But if one were not computer literate, one would have issues regarding e learning (Web based or CDROM). If one’s learning style were not conducive to computer training at all, then this option would not be for discussion. However, there are several advantages to e learning that suit many individuals and companies. There is also a very important issue regarding e learning, that even Web casts cannot address, that of real interaction.

    In conclusion, I believe OJT is here to stay. Formal training, in whichever form it takes, is still a definite requirement.

    Kind regards,


  2. Yes its in the mix
    I agree with Clive’s points but would add that learning skills and attitudes to self development should be given prevalence – whatever the methodolgy employed. I seriously believe that an ‘enlightened’ individual will make better use of learning resources, than one who ‘waits to be trained’.
    By ‘enlightened’ I mean a person who is very aware of the learning opportunities around them, very aware of their own learning styles and very clear about their current performance level and consequent development needs.
    Therefore I feel that anything done to build learning skills will pay big dividends whatever the subsequent training methodology employed.

  3. On Job Training
    Hi Julie,
    a lot depends on the type of work that the target audience is expected to do. I work in an industry with many ‘traditional’ skill areas and it works in this instance. I am not sure it would be suitable in all cases though. My second point concerns the ‘mentor’ or person(s) tasked with the training, they must be suitable and enthusiastic if it is to work. Finaly, have a structure with formal reviews to ensure that any programme stays on track.
    Robin Windley

  4. Motivation or Friendly Help
    My subject sums up my thoughts between learning via e learning or distance or traditional classroom or on-the-job training. And Clive who responded earlier also in effect comments on this. My feeling is, particularly in some of the public areas where I have worked in the past, that people generally will definitely learn if they are being taught personally on the job with real tasks and real situations – they can’t help but learn in a 1:1 situation – unless of course you meant training in a classroom on live situations and issues meaning on-the-job nearly? As an old-hand at the training game – my opinion is that 1:1 with a trainer actually doing the real thing will always be the best way (if the most expensive!)


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