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How to buy training

By JAMES COAKES Published 25th Nov 2014
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Employee training and skill development is key for most organisations, even smaller ones, but procuring training for an organisation can be somewhat daunting, given the plethora of options that exist. To get the right kind of training for your organisation, answer a few simple questions to determine exactly what you need, rather than calling training providers immediately.

What kind of training is required?

Before you even starting thinking about developing a training program, the first step is just to determine exactly what kind of training is needed. There are a number of different ways you can look at this:

Company goals: what are your organisation's needs? Greater production efficiency, improving workplace culture, reducing waste of resources, learning a new software program? Your training goals need to match your organisation’s needs so that as employees go through training processes, they're better equipped to meet those needs.

Job descriptions: do certain employees need training so they can better carry out their jobs, or to prepare them for a new role in the organisation?

Legal requirements: is the organisation legally required to put staff through discrimination, harassment, or sensitivity training? Has HR been receiving employee complaints that might indicate a need for such training?

Who needs to be involved?

After determining what kind of training is needed, the next step is determining which employees need training. Again, this will require looking at various company-generated resources to help you pinpoint those staff members.

  • Looking at company policy to find out who needs training and when is a good place to start.
  • For specific matters like safety, discrimination, or harassment, for example, employee records can help pinpoint people who need that type of training.
  • Data relating to employee performance may highlight employees who need training or retraining in specific aspects of their work.
  • Informal discussions and observation can provide insights about areas where individuals might feel that they or others may need training.
  • Interviews are a good way to find out what people want, but they're also time-consuming. Incorporating training-related matters into annual performance reviews can be a good way of getting this information from employees without additional time expenditure.
  • Surveys allow the gathering of information from a larger number of people at once and allow employees to give confidential feedback.

Plan your training needs

Once you know who needs training and for what purpose, it's time to determine how the training needs to be structured. Consider the following to come up with an effective plan:

  • Choose the employees who need to be trained.
  • Set challenging but achievable goals for employees who go through training, and develop metrics that are capable of measuring the effects of the training.
  • Develop a training schedule, ensuring that employees are able to make each session without suffering workload stress. Provide additional training dates if possible, so that employees don't have to miss out due to scheduling conflicts or unforeseen problems.
  • Plan a flexible training program that includes multiple media types to account for differences in learning styles such as; videos, presentations, handouts, roleplay or problem-solving exercises, and demonstrations.

Contact training agencies

Now that you know exactly what your organisation needs in terms of training, the final step is to contact training agencies and find one that can deliver what you need. At this stage, be prepared to negotiate and even rethink your plans; not necessarily in terms of price, but in terms of the training you want to provide. The agency you work with may be able to suggest more effective alternatives to what you've planned, or may have suggestions about additional training that may work with your specific needs.

Some of this may seem rather basic but many organisations are still buying training as a reflex and without creating a training plan. As with most business activity you need to have a recorded step-by-step plan and make sure that you have basic training requirements covered first.

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