“Grow” your own employees

Unemployment and new hire statistics earlier this year suggest the economy is in a recovery, albeit a slow one. Many companies report they are hiring again, but recruiters and hiring managers are being very selective.

According to Jeffrey Joerres of Manpower Inc.: “As the economy begins to click into second gear, employers are hiring, but they are doing so with extreme caution. They will only hire individuals who have the exact specificity of skills they are looking for.

“The economy will gather strength as 2011 progresses, and businesses will need to work with their people to unleash their full spectrum of skills and . . . retain their best employees in an era when competition for talent becomes ever greater.”1

What this means for training is that many companies are looking within their own organizations and setting up “fast track” paths for existing employees. “Grow your own” should be a popular theme this year.

Spending Gap

Despite the somewhat brighter economic outlook, businesses are still trying to do more with less. This means more coaching, mentoring and, certainly, more formal training.

TrainingIndustry.com has predicted that total spent for training services this year will increase by 7 to 9 percent over last year. However, total spent for training department staffing is only expected to grow a modest 2 percent.2

Thus, the gap will have to be made up through third-party providers. This outsourcing will not only take the form of contract trainers for live classes, but also learning content development services.

Training Providers

While employers are finding they must be more selective in hiring new talent, so, too, must they be more selective in outsourcing training services. The “soup-to-nuts” training courses will likely give way to more targeted, specialized programs.

When looking for a training provider, fleets may also be looking for one that develops and/or organizes content so that it is easier for the learner to access.

The progress of merging learning with information management over the last decade was likely slower than many training experts predicted. But trends are suggesting this may finally take off over the next few years. As companies continue to keep a close eye on expenses, they will be looking for ways to reduce training time where simple information can fill the gap.

When scheduling training classes, businesses will be looking for the most “bang for the buck.” If the goal is to continue running lean, they won’t want to lose an employee to an 8-hour training session when he only needs the answers to one or two questions.

Formal Training

I realize that I have stressed in previous articles that information is not training. That is still true. Where there is a clear skill or knowledge gap, formal training is still needed.

But readily-available information is an important post-training enhancement for situations where the worker only needs a refresher on a specific step or instruction.

Thus, in looking for a training supplier, consider those who specialize in the specific skills and knowledge related to their business, or those who are flexible enough to adapt their focus to targeted and rapidly changing needs.

1 “Growing War for Talent Looms as U.S. Economy Continues to Recover.” Chief Learning Officer magazine, February 7, 2011.

2 Harward, Doug. “Trends that Will Reshape the Training Industry.” TrainingIndustry.com, December 17, 2010.

Stephen Howe is employed as a field trainer by United Rentals, the world’s largest equipment rental company, with approximately 600 locations in North America and an a rental fleet worth more than $3.5 billion. He is a past president of the Automotive Training Managers Council - a global non-profit organization dedicated to sharing best practices and recognizing outstanding training in the automotive and heavy vehicle industries.