Integrating Traditional and Technology-based Approaches to Training in the Workplace: The Current State of Play in North America

By Iain Macdonald.

Published by Journal of Technologies in Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: February 25, 2016 $US5.00

This study examined current methods of delivery of workplace training in the private sector and the potential to introduce training methods that utilize innovative combinations of face-to-face training, e-learning, and training using mobile devices. It was based on a review of published literature, extensive dialogue with training professionals, as well as information gathered through semi-structured interviews with those responsible for managing training and development at companies in various business sectors in Canada and the USA. In general, the small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) that make up the major share of many industry sectors are characterized by a relatively informal approach to training. Systematic, company-wide training plans are uncommon in such companies, and training efforts are hampered by lack of budget, the difficulty of substituting key personnel while individuals attend classes, and in many cases by fears that employees who receive training will leave the company for better jobs elsewhere. Because of the lack of systematic training approaches, few SMEs currently employ integrated training strategies that leverage learning technologies. In most cases the e-learning that is taking place appears to be carried out on an ad-hoc basis. Poor numeracy and reading skills, as well as industry cultures that do not embrace new ideas, were cited by Human Resources and Training managers as further barriers to greater adoption of e-learning. Several companies expressed interest in delivering training using mobile devices, but none were currently doing this. There is strong potential for mobile learning to be used to train and support employees who spend substantial portions of their workday away from the plant or office at external locations. There appear to be some general differences among industry sectors in terms of adoption of technology-supported training methods such as e-learning and mobile learning. Manufacturing enterprises in the wood products industry, for example, appear to lag behind business and industrial sectors such as software, financial services, automotive, and retail. As younger workers come into the industry who are “digital natives”—that is, comfortable with social networking, computers and mobile devices, ease of adoption can be expected. This offers great potential for cost savings and training that is tailored to the personal needs of each employee.

Keywords: Technologies in Learning, Lifelong Learning, Workplace Learning, Ubiquitous Learning

Journal of Technologies in Society, Volume 12, Issue 1, March 2016, pp.13-24. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: February 25, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 501.460KB)).

Iain Macdonald

Managing Director, CAWP, Faculty of Forestry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada