The traditional training model

“Training was invented in the first half of the 20th Century. GE started its corporate schools. NCR delivered the first sales training. Factory schools appeared in Europe. Mayo discovered the Hawthorne Effect, opening the study of motivation. B.F. Skinner constructed teaching machines. The U.S. military formalized instruction to train millions of soldiers for World War II. ASTD was born.

The second half of the 20th Century was arguably the Golden Age of Training. Every corporation worth its salt opened a training department. Xerox Learning, DDI, Forum Corporation, and hundreds of other “instructional systems companies” sprung up. Thousands upon thousands of trainers attended conferences to learn about new approaches like programmed instruction, behavior modeling, roleplay, certification, interactive multimedia, sensitivity training. corporate universities, and Learning Organizations. Training was good; efficient training was better.”

This is how Harold Jarche and (the late) Jay Cross describe the birth and development of training in The training department of the future. Training was begun at a time when it was necessary to ensure that employees were able to perform the same task in exactly the same way, and was founded on the educational/ DIDACTICS/instructional model – something people were very familiar with from their school days.

Here are 5 key features of the traditional training model still in use today in many organisations.

ONE – Traditional training is mostly focuses on job-specific skills – ensuring individuals are competent, conformant or compliant in their current job, e.g. how to do a new job, how to uses systems and processes, as well as other regulatory and mandatory training.

TWO – Traditional training is all about knowledge transfer – the focus is on “dumping “knowledge (i.e, content) into people’s heads – firstly in the classroom and more recently through e-learning courses.

THREE – Traditional training is one-size fits all – training is designed to meet the needs of a diverse target group of people to ensure everyone has the same experience. But frequently this “sheep dip” approach means neither the content nor the approach meet the needs or preferences of the individuals of the members of that target group

FOUR – Traditional training happens intermittently/periodically – and is usually seen as a “one and done” activity with very little follow-up as to the impact of the training since the focus is on measuring learning activity metrics like attendance or completion (in a LMS) rather than on job or business performance metrics.

FIVE – Traditional training is seen as the sole responsibility of the Training (aka L&D) Department. Managers don’t see the growth development of their people as their pass off their problems to this department (with their specialist Instructional Designers, Trainers and LMS Administrators).

These 5 features of training have inherent limitations as can be seen, but in the 21st century there are additional issues that mean the primary use of the education (ie DIDACTICS) model for workforce development is no longer fit for purpose.


What do you think are the main issues with the traditional training model of workplace learning?

> 5 issues with the training model

Last updated: July 27, 2019 at 14:52 pm