Creative Approaches to Workforce Training

March 7, 2013

Theresa DaBiere-Craig

Employers know that the success of the organization is directly related to the ongoing skill development of their workforce. While they do value training, there is often the challenge of balancing daily operations with sending employees away from their jobs for such training. Making arrangements for releasing employees to attend, staffing to cover those employees, along with drive time to training, are some of the reasons employers don’t follow through on their staff development plans. Although a better trained workforce is critical to the bottom line, budgets for training employees have been shrinking during these difficult economic times. Providers and organizations needing training have had to find more creative ways to address training needs; on-line and web based services have met some of the needs. A number of companies are finding that those approaches don’t offer the important advantages of an instructor in the room to engage each trainee, promote group discussion, and facilitate practice of skills through interactive learning activities.

The Center for Employer Services at FM offers several creative approaches to help organizations maximize their resources for training. One of the best solutions is to bring training to the workplace. Instructors go to the employees with all the necessary materials and provide on-site training, eliminating the drive time and travel expense, as well as greatly reducing the release time. Programs are scheduled to meet the operational demands of the employer. Classes can be conducted during the day, in the evening, on the weekends, and during all shifts. Most companies have space to accommodate the training, and equipment can be brought in by the instructors. Many employers find value in having their employees attend with their peers. FM delivers on-site training in a wide range of topics such as Management and Supervision, Communication, Time Management, Customer Service, Forklift Safety, and First Aid Certification.

Another option when an organization has a smaller number of employees needing additional job skills is to participate in “consortium training.”  Consortium training is delivered with several employers teaming up to sponsor a few employees each in a program at an agreed upon time and place. Sometimes the sessions rotate to each employer’s site; therefore, reducing travel time on some dates. In other cases a central location is selected, such as one of the participating companies, at FM’s main campus in Johnstown, our instructional site at the Riverfront Center in Amsterdam, or another setting that best suits the program. Employees have reported that they also find it stimulating to interact with workers from other organizations facing the same challenges. Employers share the cost of the program. Some examples of our consortium training projects include Quality Management, Industrial Electrical Maintenance, Microsoft Excel, and First Aid Training.

Both on-site and consortium training programs are usually more cost effective than sending employees out of town for training. The saying, “one size does not fit all” is true when you are designing staff development programs.

FM is dedicated to supporting the growth and sustainability of local companies; we offer more flexibility, customization, and follow-up services to our customers. We offer a “no charge” and “no obligation” training needs consultation which can help you explore more creative ways to train your workforce. For further information contact me at (518) 424-9370 or email Theresa.Craig@fmcc.suny.edu.

Theresa DaBiere-Craig is the Outreach Representative for the Center for Employer Services at FM.

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