On-the-Job Training (OJT): An Intro

On-the-Job Training (OJT): An Intro

In this article, we delve deeper into on-the-job training (OJT), which is a widely used and effective workforce training solution. OJT, also known as direct instruction, has a proven track record of success, making it the most commonly used training method in workplaces. There are various forms of OJT, each with varying levels of success depending on factors such as design and participant engagement. Additionally, the percentage of an employee's overall workforce learning and development experience can be made up of OJT.

As a producer of online training courses, it may seem surprising that we are advocating for OJT. However, we firmly believe that OJT is an essential component of a comprehensive blended learning solution for workforce training. That is why our learning management system (LMS) is designed to facilitate not only online learning but also OJT and other forms of training, such as instructor-led classroom training.

This article covers:

  • What OJT is
  • Why it is popular?
  • Why workplaces should use it
  • How to use it most effectively to help workers develop skills necessary for performing their jobs and contributing to the overall success of the company

Understanding On-the-Job Training (OJT)

On-the-job training (OJT) is a type of job instruction that takes place directly at the worksite. The learner, who may be inexperienced, performs job tasks or observes them being performed by a more experienced worker in the same work area. This provides an opportunity for the learner to use real machines, equipment, tools, processes, and procedures while developing the knowledge, skills, and competencies required to perform their job role.

It is important to note that OJT is not the same as job training that takes place in a classroom, via a webinar, eLearning courses, or in an academic setting. However, OJT can be included as part of a well-constructed, well-structured job training program that includes other types of job training.

Employers widely use OJT as a popular method of job training. A Brandon Hall study found that organizations with a high impact on outcomes such as time to productivity, employee engagement, and individual performance are more likely to provide opportunities to reinforce learning and apply knowledge through practice. In contrast, companies that do not have a positive impact on these outcomes tend to neglect these important learning methods.

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The Reasons Behind the Wide Adoption of On-the-Job Training for Career Development

  1. Effectiveness: OJT emphasizes experiential learning, meaning that learners learn through hands-on experience. This can be a highly effective way of learning, as it allows learners to apply knowledge and skills in real-world situations.
  2. Familiarity: OJT is a familiar method of instruction that has deep historical roots in human society. It is similar to how parents would instruct their children in early hunter-gatherer or agricultural societies, or how experienced workers might instruct inexperienced workers. This familiarity can make it easier for learners to understand and apply what they are learning.
  3. Simplicity: OJT is a relatively simple method of teaching. Employers do not need to create complex training programs or materials, as the training is often as simple as "follow Joe." This can make it a cost-effective way to teach employees.
  4. Low Barrier to Entry: OJT is also a low-cost method of training, as it does not require a significant initial investment. Employers can get a program up and running quickly and easily by having an experienced worker teach an inexperienced worker how to perform job tasks through direct instruction, observation, and practice.

OJT and the 70/20/10 Learning Model

The 70/20/10 learning model has generated considerable buzz in the learning and development industry. It's clear that on-the-job training aligns well with this approach.

According to the 70/20/10 model, workers acquire most of the knowledge and skills necessary for their job by performing work-related tasks, with a smaller portion coming from social interactions with colleagues and a smaller fraction from formal learning events like classroom lectures or eLearning modules.

Although there is no conclusive data on the exact percentages, the general idea has gained traction in the learning and development community. Consequently, some experts now refer to the "Three E's" - Experience, Exposure, and Education - as an alternative to the 70/20/10 model.

Given that OJT is rooted in experiential learning and the acquisition of information through direct job-related experience, the enthusiasm for the 70/20/10 learning model underscores the importance of on-the-job training, as well as complementary elements like performance support and job aids.

Key Success Factors of On-the-Job Training

While on-the-job training may not be suitable for all organizations, it can be a highly effective method of job training when implemented correctly. Here are some key factors that contribute to the success of on-the-job training:

  1. Cross-training: It can be a great opportunity for cross-training employees across different job roles and departments, allowing for greater flexibility and knowledge-sharing within the organization.
  2. Customization: Ability to be customized to fit the needs of different learners and organizations, making it a flexible and cost-effective training solution.
  3. Practical learning: Provides learners with hands-on, practical experience, allowing them to develop job skills in a real-world setting.
  4. Continuous improvement: Training programs should be constantly reviewed and improved to ensure that they remain relevant and effective in meeting the organization's goals and objectives.
  5. Integration with other training methods: It can be combined with other training methods, such as classroom learning or e-learning, to create a blended learning solution that offers the best of both worlds.

There are two common types of on-the-job training: structured and unstructured.

Unstructured OJT programs lack specific goals, plans, and objectives, and they're often inefficient and ineffective. Structured OJT programs, on the other hand, have defined goals and outcomes, a list of necessary information and skills, and specific roles for the mentee, mentor, and OJT supervisor. Structured programs tend to be more effective but require more time, effort, and expense to set up. Other types of on-the-job training include apprenticeships, coaching, mentoring, and job rotation.

Using OJT for Job Training and Skill Development: Stand-Alone or Blended Learning Solution?

On-the-job training (OJT) can be implemented as either a standalone job training program or as a part of a blended learning solution. Although it may be effective for simple jobs when used alone, it is not usually the most effective option. On the other hand, combining OJT with other training methods in a blended learning solution is often more productive, particularly for complex jobs. This approach enables employees to leverage their cognitive skills in the way they learn best.

Blended learning solutions can take many forms, such as the 70/20/10 model, which combines experience, exposure, and education. Other blends may include formal and informal learning, social learning, performance support, job aids, eLearning, classroom instruction, written materials, and more. The type of learning chosen should match the knowledge or skill being taught, such as facts, concepts, processes, procedures, principles, and problem-solving/troubleshooting skills. Additionally, blends can be designed to teach basic job knowledge, simple procedures and tasks, and advanced problem-solving or troubleshooting skills.

Participants in Structured OJT Programs

Structured OJT programs require specific roles for successful implementation. Here are the common roles involved in such programs:

  • Learner/Trainee/Inexperienced Employee:
    This is the person who needs to acquire the necessary job knowledge and skills. Ideally, they are aware of the expectations and what they should learn, and when.
  • Experienced Employee:
    The experienced employee is responsible for transferring their job knowledge and skills to the inexperienced employee. Ideally, they should have a basic understanding of how people learn, how to facilitate learning, active learning, and adult learning principles. They should also know the knowledge and skills that the new worker must acquire and the optimal order for presenting that information. Additionally, they should have the desire to participate in the instructor role.

 In conclusion, on-the-job training (OJT) is a valuable method of job instruction and skill development. It is flexible, cost-effective, and can be customized to fit the needs of different learners and organizations. Whether used as a stand-alone training solution or as part of a blended learning program, OJT can help workers acquire the knowledge and skills they need to be successful in their jobs. By understanding the different types of OJT programs, the participants involved, and how to combine OJT with other learning methods, organizations can design and implement effective training programs that support the growth and development of their workforce. Contact us about our solutions and be sure to download our free Manufacturing Training Guide or request a demo.

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