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Preparing Individual Training Plans

TeamOJT Tip of the Month for June, 2006

Adult learners want to learn things that are directly relevant to what they personally need to know. A drawback to traditional training is that it is geared to the "average" learner and, therefore, wrong for most people. One of the advantages on on-the-job training is that it can easily be tailored to meet the needs of each individual trainee.

Every trainee brings a unique background to the job. Before preparing an individual training plan, the trainer needs to find out the prior skills, knowledge, and experiences of the trainee. Even before the trainees arrive for work, trainers should know who they are and what their backgrounds comprise. Based on that knowledge, trainers can create individual training plans. A trainee's background can be determined in a number of ways: input from supervisors, existing records of work history and training, self-assessments by the trainee that include comfort level with equipment and tools, and employee development plans. Such development plans are extremely valuable to trainers because they evaluate the trainees' prior skills, knowledge, and experiences.

It is vital that trainees have the opportunity to provide input to their own individual training plans. Trainees are responsible for the success of their job performance and they drive the learning process. Before any training begins, trainer and trainee should engage in a pre-meeting or orientation, during which trainees are responsible for verifying that they have the required background to learn the tasks already identified in the individual training plan. There is no substitute for asking the trainee directly whether he or she has the necessary skills, knowledge, or experience to complete the training. In fact, this verification check should occur at the beginning of each training session to assess the trainee's readiness to learn the task.

When a trainer has a clear idea of what the trainee knows and doesn't know, he or she can select the training modules that meet the training needs of the individual and the requirements of the workplace. Trainees may develop training plans to attain skills for their current job, for a higher grade level within that job, or another job.

The next step is to sequence the training modules in a logical order so that each element of the job is learned. Proper sequencing results in better retention.

In devising a training plan, it is very important to consider when the trainee actually needs to be trained and in which tasks. Every effort should be made to ensure that after the training session on a particular module, the trainee will be able to practice and perform the task several times. Ideally, the training should occur as close as possible to the time that the skill will be used. Imagine having one training session on riding a bicycle and then not being able to get on the bicycle again for a year. Job skills are no different.

Individual training plans generally include immediate follow-up training and spot-checks every six months. Don't make the mistake of training and then doing no follow-up.



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