Training and Development - Educational Requirements and Preparation

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Since the 1950s the formal preparation of training professionals has undergone a tidal wave of change. The first response to the demand for workplace education was the "pass-through method." By the 1960s publishers devised specific training packages on a variety of popular workplace topics. Certification programs were designed to train the trainer on the content and methods of these packages.

The 1970s and 1980s saw an increasing demand for identifying a broad range of training competencies. Colleges and universities began offering specific degree and certificate study programs to enhance trainer knowledge and workplace education results.

In the 1990s business productivity is demanding more customized training in every business. At the same time, the application of employee training back on the job must be greatly improved and more clearly measured. This has led to a great expansion in formal undergraduate and graduate programs for training and development.



TRAINING INSTITUTES

How do individuals prepare themselves to become training professionals? Until the 1980s many trainers entered the field through the "back door." Some individuals had been educated in human resources, psychology, or education (elementary/secondary). The vast majority of trainers in the business world were often rotated through the training department as part of their "seasoning" as a business manager. Even today this pass-through method is still a common business practice, particularly in the current era of cost cutting and re engineering.

The pass-through method of trainer education should include several weeks of educational orientation. Many universities have developed training institutes that teach basic instructor behaviors and review content areas such as: adult learning concepts, design, presentation skills, vendor selection, testing, and improving trainer interpersonal skills.

These institute programs seem to be designed mainly for individuals who do not intend to make adult workplace education their career. Presenters of training on a temporary assignment basis general lack the expertise to prepare customized company in-house educational programs. However, they are good candidates to be certified for the standardized training package, which we discuss below.

TRAINING PACKAGE CERTIFICATION PROGRAMS

A wealth of prepared, packaged materials currently exist to meet a variety of training needs. For many training situations there are advantages in utilizing these external resources to assist with solutions to business issues.

One of the key benefits of using training packages is that the research, design, development, and testing, which are both time consuming and costly, already have been performed, and the materials are ready for your immediate use. For additional fees packaged generic programs can be customized for a client. Customization varies from putting a client's logo on printed materials to developing case studies and exercises specific to a client's business or industry. The decision to customize is often determined by the number of participants for which the program is purchased. If the number of employees needing the program is great, then the cost of customizing decreases and becomes a better investment.

Besides tailoring, many program providers offer other services, such as consultation or training in the most effective use of the program. In some content areas there are so many choices available that many training decision makers consider packaged programs as commodities. The decision to purchase a package requires understanding the internal needs of the user company and what the company intends to accomplish by using it.

The most critical feature of packaged training programs is the train-the-trainer component. Companies developing packaged programs may include a train-the-trainer component that provides the client's internal trainers/facilitators with the experience to learn not only the content of the program, but also the most effective methods to use in presenting the program. During this train-the-trainer component, participants actually practice presenting content segments of the program and receive feedback to assist them in improving and further developing their skills. Those who go through the train-the-trainer component are certified as presenters, and only these certified trainers can present the programs to the company's employees.

COMPETENCY MODEL

In the early 1980s, and again in 1989, the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), the largest professional association in this field, issued a competency model that incorporates thirty-five skill areas that were deemed essential.

A recent survey of Midwest training and development professionals (Kanter 1996) ranked their perceptions of the importance of these skills areas for entry-level trainers. The majority of these competencies were deemed either "extremely important" or "important." Notable exceptions included: under-standing career development theories and techniques and using electronic systems (computer-based training, satellite networks, and so forth) to deliver training. A surprisingly large number of these executives also were "indifferent" about a trainer's ability to: plan and coordinate a training program's logistics; use research skills in selecting, developing, or using training; use cost-benefit analysis to assess training alternatives/results; develop management delegation skills; understand the key concepts of their industry; know organization development concepts and strategies; understand their own business's operations, structure, and strategic issues; develop records management skills; or be able to synthesize data and gather information from various reference sources.

It appears that many companies do not yet require their trainers/ adult educators to consistently perform these tasks. However, the authors predict that over the next decade the realities of an increasingly competitive marketplace will increase the daily practice of these competencies by the majority of all trainers.

The identification of these business and education competencies was due to the growth and increasing sophistication of American business training. These competencies are causing individual trainers to participate in more comprehensive educational pro-grams that will meet their employers' demands. Higher education began developing degree and certificate programs that address professional training "best practices" in a wide variety of ways.

Training and Development - Educational Requirements and Preparation

SWEEPING CHANGES

Since the 1950s the formal preparation of training professionals has undergone a tidal wave of change. The first response to the demand for workplace education was the "pass-through method." By the 1960s publishers devised specific training packages on a variety of popular workplace topics. Certification programs were designed to train the trainer on the content and methods of these packages.

The 1970s and 1980s saw an increasing demand for identifying a broad range of training competencies. Colleges and universities began offering specific degree and certificate study programs to enhance trainer knowledge and workplace education results.

In the 1990s business productivity is demanding more customized training in every business. At the same time, the application of employee training back on the job must be greatly improved and more clearly measured. This has led to a great expansion in formal undergraduate and graduate programs for training and development.

TRAINING INSTITUTES

How do individuals prepare themselves to become training professionals? Until the 1980s many trainers entered the field through the "back door." Some individuals had been educated in human resources, psychology, or education (elementary/secondary). The vast majority of trainers in the business world were often rotated through the training department as part of their "seasoning" as a business manager. Even today this pass-through method is still a common business practice, particularly in the current era of cost cutting and re engineering.

The pass-through method of trainer education should include several weeks of educational orientation. Many universities have developed training institutes that teach basic instructor behaviors and review content areas such as: adult learning concepts, design, presentation skills, vendor selection, testing, and improving trainer interpersonal skills.

These institute programs seem to be designed mainly for individuals who do not intend to make adult workplace education their career. Presenters of training on a temporary assignment basis general lack the expertise to prepare customized company in-house educational programs. However, they are good candidates to be certified for the standardized training package.

TRAINING PACKAGE CERTIFICATION PROGRAMS

A wealth of prepared, packaged materials currently exist to meet a variety of training needs. For many training situations there are advantages in utilizing these external resources to assist with solutions to business issues.

One of the key benefits of using training packages is that the research, design, development, and testing, which are both time consuming and costly, already have been performed, and the materials are ready for your immediate use. For additional fees packaged generic programs can be customized for a client. Customization varies from putting a client's logo on printed materials to developing case studies and exercises specific to a client's business or industry. The decision to customize is often determined by the number of participants for which the program is purchased. If the number of employees needing the program is great, then the cost of customizing decreases and becomes a better investment.

Besides tailoring, many program providers offer other services, such as consultation or training in the most effective use of the program. In some content areas there are so many choices available that many training decision makers consider packaged programs as commodities. The decision to purchase a package requires understanding the internal needs of the user company and what the company intends to accomplish by using it.

The most critical feature of packaged training programs is the train-the-trainer component. Companies developing packaged programs may include a train-the-trainer component that provides the client's internal trainers/facilitators with the experience to learn not only the content of the program, but also the most effective methods to use in presenting the program. During this train-the-trainer component, participants actually practice presenting content segments of the program and receive feedback to assist them in improving and further developing their skills. Those who go through the train-the-trainer component are certified as presenters, and only these certified trainers can present the programs to the company's employees.

COMPETENCY MODEL

In the early 1980s, and again in 1989, the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), the largest professional association in this field, issued a competency model that incorporates thirty-five skill areas that were deemed essential.

A recent survey of Midwest training and development professionals (Kanter 1996) ranked their perceptions of the importance of these skills areas for entry-level trainers. The majority of these competencies were deemed either "extremely important" or "important." Notable exceptions included: under-standing career development theories and techniques and using electronic systems (computer-based training, satellite networks, and so forth) to deliver training. A surprisingly large number of these executives also were "indifferent" about a trainer's ability to: plan and coordinate a training program's logistics; use research skills in selecting, developing, or using training; use cost-benefit analysis to assess training alternatives/results; develop management delegation skills; understand the key concepts of their industry; know organization development concepts and strategies; understand their own business's operations, structure, and strategic issues; develop records management skills; or be able to synthesize data and gather information from various reference sources.

It appears that many companies do not yet require their trainers/ adult educators to consistently perform these tasks. However, the authors predict that over the next decade the realities of an increasingly competitive marketplace will increase the daily practice of these competencies by the majority of all trainers.

The identification of these business and education competencies was due to the growth and increasing sophistication of American business training. These competencies are causing individual trainers to participate in more comprehensive educational pro-grams that will meet their employers' demands. Higher education began developing degree and certificate programs that address professional training "best practices" in a wide variety of ways.

NEW CREDENTIALS FOR THE CORPORATE UNIVERSITY

As we review the variety of educational options at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels, it becomes more apparent that education in the workplace is a very complex strategic issue for every business. The preparation of managers to educate employees deserves the careful use by organizations of degreed professionals for entry-level, mid-range, and advanced managerial career positions.
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