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Formal Training or On-the-job Training Essay

Training plays an important role in the interaction between the organization and its employees. It means giving employees, new and present, the expertise they require to perform their jobs effectively. It is not necessary to have high-potential employees and be successful, instead, the employees must know what the organization wants form them. This is where training comes in to play, without it employees are bound to improvise or do nothing useful at all. It is very important for managers to design the raining programme cautiously.

The management mostly goes through a detailed study of the job, also known as task analysis, to identify the skills and expertise required to perform a certain job. Based on this a training method is chosen and hence the training process implemented. In this case study, we will focus on two basic training methods and decide upon which one is better. Firstly, our focus will be on formal learning, through which employees enroll in a programme of study, engage in seminars and tutorial discussions and attend various lectures.

Secondly, we will investigate the effectiveness of on-the-job training whereby employees learn and develop their skills about a particular job while performing the job. Both types of training are

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very beneficial and enhance employee competence. Formal Learning Formal learning can be undertaken in several forms. The time period varies depending on the type of training and usually it is characterized as off-the-job training. This type of learning usually takes place away from the employee’s work environment. The training department in many organizations undertakes this responsibility.

A number of methods can be used in formal training, from outdoor development to lengthy seminars and workshops. Let’s analyze some of these and study their effectiveness on employees. Training Courses This is the most conventional form of formal learning. It can be undertaken at any location and typically a qualified trainer or consultant is for their guidance and support. The time period required usually extends half-day onwards and typically within a week’s period. The job instruction training course as it is popularly known is well structured and very formal.

It comprises of well-defined goals and learning outcomes based on a step-by-step process in association with key points. The steps highlight what is to be done whereas the key points reflect upon how it’s to be done. The employees are guided thoroughly and use the knowledge to perform their routine work tasks. Lectures or Seminars Lectures or seminars are highly beneficial. For e. g. if a company’s sales force need to learn a new products specifications, lectures are undertaken to educate the masses.

Thus, lectures/seminars are the quickest and simplest way to communicate information to large groups of trainees. These types of training programme can be very valuable, if and only if, they are carried out appropriately. Otherwise many employees are known to shy away from them mainly because of their reputation of being tiring, time-consuming and boring. Workshops Workshops, as compared to lectures and seminars are far more engaging events. This affair is generally very participative and brings together employees or trainee’s who want to work upon a specific skill area.

For e. g. a workshop on time management will probably engage the participants in several activities both to maintain interest levels and effectively communicate their message. Moreover, they are more useful to develop skills such as assertiveness, negotiation, managing meetings, managing time etc. They allow employees to practice the newly developed skill in a supportive environment and also provide employees with the opportunity to offer and obtain feedback. Therefore, feedback is one of the most productive forms of formal learning.

Programmed Learning Programmed learning, whether through a textbook, PC or the internet is a more detailed study embarked upon by the employees. As was the case with training courses, this is also a step-by-step, self-learning method that consists of learning material and testing based on this. Then feedback is provided based on the credibility of the answers. Generally it presents facts and follows up with structured questions. An example of such a training method is tutorial services provided to employees by the company.

Its main advantage is that it is very time efficient and reduces time considerably as compared to other similar methods. It lets an employee learn at his/her own pace, provides feedback and reduces the risk of errors. Outdoor development This method usually focuses on employee leadership and team-building skills. It is very beneficial in the sense that it improves builds upon employee communication, planning, problem-solving and similar resource and people management skills. These are very essential in today’s work environment.

If properly structured and facilitated, this type of training can provide a conducive learning environment. Simulated Training This training method is very similar to on-the-job training. Here, trainees learn based on actual or simulated equipment similar to that used on the job. An excellent example would be the virtual flight simulation training given to pilots. This is helpful when it is too costly or dangerous to arrange for on-the-job training. Simulation training usually takes place in a separate area but using the same equipment as they would use on the job.

It is nevertheless costly and time-consuming. These were some of the formal training methods implemented by today’s organizations and their pro’s and con’s. Now we will discuss on-the-job training and its implications on today’s employee and work environment. On-the-job Training On-the-job training as the name implies is when a person is trained to learn a job while working on that specific job. An employee might not get formal training in an organization but he or does get on-the-job training when they join the firm.

Training of this nature is usually unstructured and occurs on an ad hoc basis. There are no clearly identified goals or objectives and skills and proficiencies are acquired through normal operating conditions. This type of learning is preferred by many employees and employers as it is extremely practical and no cots are incurred in the process. There are various types of on-the-job training and development methods and each has its own benefit. On the following page we will discuss some of them which include coaching, mentoring, learning contracts, job rotation and job instruction.

Coaching Coaching by a manager or experienced contemporaries can support the learners’ development by helping them solve a problem or carry out a task more successfully than before. It is possible to coach more than one individual at the same time but its benefits are maximized when this is done on a one-on-one basis. It maximizes learning and develops skills more effectively as there is constant supervision. Mentoring Unlike coaching, mentoring focuses more on developing skills required to carry out a particular role rather than a task.

The personal development of the learner such as interpersonal skills, creating an identity, developing talent and realizing one’s potential is the idea behind this approach. Learning contracts This is a three-way process involving the learner, organization and a tutor. The contract establishes what needs to be learnt how to go about it, a deadline is given and the resources required facilitating the process. This is a very flexible method of development and can be used both for personal development and for the development of practical skills.

It is in know way similar to a training course as training occurs at the workplace itself. Job Rotation Job rotation follows the notion that exposure to different people, different jobs, different approaches and different contexts will enlarge the employees’ skills and provide a hefty range of learning opportunities and development prospects. This is a useful tactic when developing multi-skilled functions. Critics, however, argue that moving around the organization in an ad hoc manner is not an effective training and development intervention. Thus, this needs to delicately planned, executed and monitored.

Job Instruction This method follows three steps as outlined below:

• Tell the learner how to do the job

• Show the learner how to do the job

• Allow the learner to do the job under supervision

This is highly suitable for skill development as the job is broken down into stages and then carried out first through demonstration and then practically. On-the-job training methods discussed are carried out under supervision and rely on the controlled and informed support of the learner’s organization. It needs to be planned, structured and resourced as carefully as formal training requires.

Conclusion Evidently, given the detail analysis of both formal and on-the-job training and it’s their advantages and disadvantages it is hard to judge which form is better. Formal training is extensive while on-the-job training is carried out under constant supervision thus it is far more productive. Employees argue that without the practical application of what is learnt through formal learning the knowledge attained by this means becomes redundant. Clearly, on-the-job training is more beneficial and practical as compared to formal learning. Also read narrative report for OJT business administration

This can be backed by the fact that according to three-year sponsored study sponsored by the U. S. Department of Labor and performed by ASTD (Carnevale, Gainer, & Villet (1990), two out of three workers say that everything they need to know was learned on the job, rather than in the classrooms. Moreover as compared to on-the-job learning, formal learning is usually more costly. Thus, the workplace itself becomes the avenue for education and training for most employees.


Books Dessler, Gary. (2008). Human Resource Management. Eleventh Edition. New Delhi: Prentice-Hall.

Brookes, Jill. (1995). Training and Development Competence. First Edition. London: Kogan Page.

Laird, Dugan (2003). Approaches to Training and Development. Third Edition. Boston: Perseus.

Online Journals Pio, Advina. (2007). Training and Development in New Zealand. International Journal of Training and Development, Volume 11, pages 71-83. Retrieved April 24, 2009, from CiteULike.

Campbell, G, P (1971). Personal Training and Development. Annual Review of Psycholog, Volume 22, pages 565-602. Retrieved April 24, 1009, from Annual Reviews.

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