Skills Training On-Demand

When is the best time to deliver technical training? The question resurrects more than one school of thought. Some say “train proactively” in hopes of reducing liability (cost). When we’re dealing with safety, for example, common sense says a proactive approach would be better (and appreciated). New employee orientation training often takes place day one for good reason. Maintenance and related training when done proactively extends equipment life. We would not want new employees ruining millions of dollars of equipment only to legitimately claim “no one told me”. CPR training provided early might look good from a compliance perspective, but could be forgotten or become outdated. It makes the case for regularly-scheduled refresher training to maintain or increase skill level.

A delayed approach to training is also be arguable. Wouldn’t it be better for students to first get some “dirt under their fingernails” before the training? They would know more about the equipment they would be using or servicing. It is also true that the more experience a student brings to the training table, the more likely he/she is to grasp the instruction. A course filled with well-vetted questions from experienced students can dive deeply into subjects, limited only by time and curriculum.

The best time to provide training is when it will have the desired impact, improved performance. The best training happens at the point-of-need. Since the point-of-need is continually changing training assessments must be ongoing. Today’s point-of-need could be tomorrow’s missed opportunity, if not acted upon.

How should we go about assessing the need for training? A simple solution is to use the following as criteria to decide if and when a particular subject merits training.

· Frequency: How frequently must the trainee perform the task?
· Cost: What is the cost (risk) of the worker’s inability to perform the task?
· Motivation: Could the worker perform the task without training if he/she absolutely had no other options?
· Time: How much time is available for the training?

The questions above help to prioritize the need for training on any particular subject. A couple scenarios help illustrate.

Let us remember one of our earliest training classes — toilet training. The cost (risk) of insufficient training might range from a puddle to a bill for dry cleaning your new suit. The student’s task must be performed frequently. Motivational threats may or may not help. This scenario includes high risk, high frequency, and the motivational threat doesn’t pass the smell test. So, prioritize the training for this task against others and incorporate them into the training based on time available. Note that time is not so much a deciding factor but helps with curriculum scheduling (ex. to calculate how much training can fit into a one-day course.). However, lack of time should not become an excuse to deny training.

Fast forward 20 years. Now the young electrical apprentice will be wiring 480VAC between gen-set and switchgear panel. Although this may be his first generator, errors carry extreme risk. He might perform the particular task even without training given the proper wiring diagrams, knowledge of electrical codes, etc. However, due to the extreme risk (cost) involved time must be carved out for this important training. It won’t take more than one look at an arc flash video on YouTube to realize this type of training should be done proactively.

Now let’s look at training from another perspective. Say a site operator for XYZ Energy realizes his gas engines are underperforming. He wants to learn more about the engines, hoping to engage in tune-ups and maintenance. However, due to budget constraints management put his training request on the back burner. As the engines become more critical to overall production the risk/cost indicator moves upward. When we consider the risk of losing an employee to a competitor for lack of training, this pushes the risk meter even higher.

Today’s technology is changing at an ever faster pace. Since the point-of-need for training parallels the technology, training must keep the same pace. The need for training continues throughout the employee’s work-life. The way XYZ Energy could stay ahead of the curve is by utilizing a library of on-demand courseware. These are not necessarily full-blown courses, but rather short, bite-sized nuggets of critical training material. That material could be served to any online device that our young operator might use — PC, tablet, smart phone. Video has been recognized as one of the most efficient communication methods, combining audio and visual. These short, impactful videos help keep employees engaged at work, increasing their skills and value on the job site, and reduce the chances of them walking down the road to a competitor. To add more value to this training, the expertise of XYZ’s own subject matter experts (SMEs) can be used in the video production process. The result is an on-demand library of proprietary subject expertise. The legacy knowledge and skills of your most seasoned employees can be preserved for the benefit of your NextGen workforce, instead of being lost to retirement.

On-Demand Training — When and Where Needed

The on-demand training system satisfies the requirements for prioritization and point-of-need availability for today’s workplace learner. He/she can retrieve the exact training bytes at the moment of need. Flexibility is built in because the learning is self-paced.

Creating an on-demand, online technical library follows these basic steps:
1. Assess tasks according to criteria above.
2. Prioritize training needs against budget, calendar, etc.
3. Identify persons in possession of said skills (SMEs within or without your organization.
4. Develop training curriculum.
5. Capture (record) and edit videos.
6. Save to Learning Management System (LMS) and make available online.

By compiling a training library your company can establish its own “YouTube”-like channel of critical processes. These short, “snack-sized” learning bytes can be available to all employees 24/7, accessible by smart phone, tablet, or online device/computer. This is SnackLearning. We are an education company helping bridge the skills gap by providing employees the education solutions they need. Training when needed. Where needed. At employee’s fingertips 24/7, in manageable, snack-sized pieces. Self-paced, Snack-sized, Flex e-learning On-demand. That’s SnackLearning. SnackLearning is your on-demand training solutions provider. Learn more at, and start the conversation.

Founder/CEO at SnackLearning | Skills Gap Learning Solutions for Manufacturing and Oil and Gas |