Shelley Smith, president of Concierge Corporate Co. in Kelowna, BC, takes a consultancy approach to IT training, matching up employers and trainers depending on specific corporate requirements and realities.

Here are

her top five trends in tech training:

  1. Instruction types.After first determining which applications will best serve your day-to-day operations, you’ll need to offer training on them. It may be best to do customized training based on your employees’ specific usage of Word or QuickBooks. “Some people only need to learn how to set their margins and set their tabs, but it is always in the company’s best interest to ascertain whether its money is going to be better spent on training or on hiring a consulting firm to produce the required training materials. Look at cost benefits and weigh out which goals are long-term and which are short-term,” says Smith. “Look at the return on investment. Are these brand new employees? What are they bringing to the organization? Do they have some training already or is it just that their knowledge needs to be refreshed?”
  2. Sharpen your focus. Most businesses no longer do “A to Z” training, Smith says. They don’t have the time to provide more than possibly two hours of condensed training to explain: “‘This is the way we operate, this is how we want you to use the product to its efficiency in our organization.'” Such individuals must have working experience using the products, she says.
  3. Money’s too tight to mention. Small and large companies, equally, are evaluating training today and asking: What’s in it for me? A standard training organization will only provide courses within a certain time frame, and then require a minimum number of people to make it go. But there are others methods. An organization could offer employee training as a lunch and learn, present 30-minute training blocks online, give sessions by teleconference, or simply bring in someone to perform sessions in their offices — provided there are suitable facilities.
  4. Branching out. Smith’s Concierge Corporate Company has recently decided to add a personal development focus to its tech training capacities, since companies started asking for help teaching such things as more healthy living. They might be experiencing employee downtime or decreases in job satisfaction, so they must quickly determine if these problems are related to employees’ jobs and job performance or simply something going on at home, says Smith. As a result, a consultant may need to look at the firm’s business model or even consider a company restructuring. “It’s not just a quick fix, and I think that’s where the training industry’s changing. It’s no longer ‘Okay, go and pick a class and that’s going to fix it.’ Suddenly we’re having to get back to grass roots.”
  5. Application check-up. Today’s companies would rather not spend exorbitant amounts on full, formal classroom training, argues Smith. They say people should have those skills as standard. Instead clients are turning the microscope on the products they use every day. Some ask Concierge to help evaluate whether everything Microsoft says it provides in its software actually brings effectiveness. “It’s one thing to have every solution out there technology-based, but if it’s not interlinked correctly it can actually create more work.”
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