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Off-the-job training and how it benefits your team

November 9, 2022 - 12 min read

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What’s off-the-job training?

Off-the-job training methods

Off-the-job versus on-the-job training

Pros and cons of off-the-job training

Getting started

Humans are creatures of habit — especially when it comes to learning. Many of us are used to on-the-job training methods like seminars, workshops, and one-on-one mentorship. 

But studies have shown that changing educational and learning environments is necessary to keep up with technological advancements. A new style often works wonders because it challenges your brain. And a 2022 LinkedIn study found that the top three motivating factors for employees to learn something new were connected to career development

To keep growing, you need to get out of your comfort zone. And that might mean trying off-the-job training for the first time. 

It’s normal to feel hesitant about new training programs or methods. If this is your first off-the-job session, you may wonder who will be teaching you, what the training will cover, and how you’ll be evaluated. But don’t worry — experienced instructors equip you with a new skill set to take to the office. 

Moving off-site lets you learn from people other than your managers in a new environment, meaning you’ll have a fresh perspective on the information conveyed. With any luck, you’ll finally learn how to strengthen a skill you’ve struggled with or approach problems from another angle. 

Let’s discuss the most prevalent off-the-job training methods and explore some of the pros and cons between on- and off-the-job training. 

What’s off-the-job training?

Off-the-job training takes you out of the workplace to learn about your job or industry. You’ll swap your office for an off-site training center to learn about the latest advancements or trends in your field, how to use new equipment or programs, and more. 

This method of training employees aims to limit distractions and cultivate new forms of workforce development. Let’s say you’re transitioning to a new role at work — you might do some off-the-job training to ease the adjustment by learning about your day-to-day roles from someone other than your direct supervisor. 

Exposure to different training techniques and resources also increases your professional development by testing your problem-solving, decision-making, and critical-thinking skills. 

Off-the-job training could target corporate work, workplace diversity, and other job-relevant tools or skills. They might cover how to interact with others, maintain healthy well-being, and much more.

These could be soft skills like how to manage stress at work, identify burnout, or best communicate with team members. But you might also have tutorials focused on hard skills like software or equipment usage, like coding boot camps or case study competitions. 

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Off-the-job training methods

Off-the-job training isn’t constrained to any set rules — depending on your industry, you could learn in many ways. Programs are tailored to each job, so you receive a thorough, detailed learning experience that’s relevant to your current role. 

You might experience a combination of these, too, if you’re at a conference or workshop series looking to convey lots of information in a short period. 

Here are eight examples of off-the-job training methods:

1. Vestibule training

Do you work with tools and machinery? This is what vestibule training is for. Vestibule training is necessary for high-risk work where you must know how to properly use the equipment. Some vestibule training examples include using a drill press, saw, or crane.

An expert instructor will show you how to handle the equipment and let you practice doing the work. This training is particularly helpful for new apprentices who will be working in the field.

2. Role-play

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Practicing potential scenarios is helpful for understanding how to react in real-life situations. This training is often used for customer service jobs or sales positions where you interact with the public. Instructors provide a realistic, relevant situation and evaluate how you respond to strengthen your decision-making, communication, and emotional regulation skills. 

3. Simulations

The simulation training method mimics your job using equipment that mirrors your tasks, like an immersive role-play. This method is for those who take on more dangerous jobs where it’s too risky to complete training on-site. For example, pilots, astronauts, and marine divers often use simulation training. 

4. Lectures

This training method takes you back to your school days as you sit in a boardroom, classroom, or lecture hall and listen to a speaker. They might describe certain topics, formulas, or new research related to developments in your field. The instructor might make you do assessments to complete the course or earn a certification.

5. Management games

Management games are similar to role-play exercises. You’ll split into teams with your coworkers to compete in work-related activities, like entering data the fastest with the fewest mistakes or creating a conflict resolution plan together.

These exercises work to improve teamwork, leadership, and organizational skills. Plus, you’ll foster trust in your coworkers and enjoy better work relationships.

6. Audio-visual training

Turn off the lights for this training method, where materials include media like films, TV shows, podcasts, and video demonstrations. This is often conducted in groups so everyone can discuss it afterward, but you could easily do this training remotely

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7. Programmed instructions

If you love step-by-step instructions, you’ll enjoy the programmed instructions method of training. These training programs barely need an instructor and can be done asynchronously. You’ll start out by building your knowledge on certain topics. After each topic, you’ll do an assessment to review what you’ve learned. It might seem tedious, but it ensures you’re absorbing the material. 

8. Case studies

Using case studies is a more formal training method where you analyze real-life problems or situations related to your field. Your instructor will ask what went wrong, what the employees did well, and what you’d do differently. By the end, you’ll write a report to summarize your findings. This method is especially useful for examining past experiences in fields like law, politics, and journalism.

Off-the-job versus on-the-job training

While both off-the-job and on-the-job training teach you new skills and help with workplace development, there are important differences. For one, on-the-job training takes place in the actual workplace — you learn on-site from fellow employees. This type of training focuses on preparing you for your daily responsibilities as quickly as possible or to better understand your company. 

For example, a company’s product team might routinely present its progress so the marketing team can better understand and sell the product, while senior management and human resources can offer training sessions to new managers to help them thrive in their roles.

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Here are a few specific differences between on-the-job and off-the-job training.

On-the-job training is:

  • More distracting because you’re in a busy office

  • Done by an experienced employee 

  • Costs less because it uses existing resources, like managers and empty boardrooms

  • Limited to daily and weekly tasks

  • Offers team building opportunities 

Off-the-job training is:

  • Less distracting because you’re off-site

  • Led by industry experts and external employees

  • More expensive because companies need to outsource locations, instructors, and materials

  • Made of more diverse training methods

  • Focused on outlying industry knowledge and history

  • Offers networking opportunities

Pros and cons of off-the-job training

While off-the-job training impacts personal and professional growth, some drawbacks may cause training programs to fail. Here are some pros and cons of off-the-job training:

Pros

Female-coworkers-looking-at-laptop-at-office-off-the-job-training

Cons

  • Training might be disruptive to an employee’s schedule

  • It can be costly, especially when factoring in turnover 

  • You may invest in a course that’s not as high quality as expected 

  • Training may be wasted on employees that aren’t motivated to participate 

Getting started

No matter your industry, off-the-job training is invaluable — and there’s likely a method that suits your industry. While these methods require research and time investment, an employee’s personal and professional development is worth it. 

People need to feel well-equipped and ready to excel in their current position. With off-the-job training, they’ll be more prepared than ever.

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Published November 9, 2022

Erin Eatough, PhD

Sr. Insights Manager

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