During the course of your daily work, you learn new skills and gain new knowledge through problem solving and from facing new situations. But this happens almost always at a subconscious level. In the VET system, work-based learning is seen as making a conscious effort to learn in the workplace towards an agreed set of outcomes or goals and as part of a deliberate, planned learning program. Work-based learning isn’t simply about taking an existing employee and providing them with new knowledge or skills. The term, Work-based learning can include:
- work placements – where new employees are given the opportunity to learn in a real working environment.
- on-the-job training (OJT), and
- apprenticeships, internships and traineeships.
There are many reasons why training is conducted in the workplace. The objectives are aligned with these training requirements, which can result from:
- introduction of new technology
- new products or services
- new organisational direction or workplace change
- new positions or job roles, and much more…
Work-based learning is often favoured by employers, as it has a number of benefits for both the participant and the employer. For example:
- The employee remains available and productive to the employer whilst undertaking their training.
- Professional development of employees takes place with minimal disruption/cost to the employer.
- Participants use the same equipment and processes as will be required for the actual task.
- Employers don’t need to provide temporary staff to fill positions.
- Participants engage in real-time activities and events, not simulated or out-of-date ones. And they can relate new functions and skills to their existing knowledge and experience.
- And lastly, support is available for participants through work colleagues and supervisors or managers.
Learning in the workplace is done for a specific work-based outcome and never “just for the sake of it”, as organisations don’t want such wastage of time, effort or resources. Therefore, you need to have a clear understanding of the objectives or goals and scope of the training, which must be agreed upon by all stakeholders or parties to the training—such as the organisational sponsor (the person or people authorising the training), the relevant manager or supervisor, the other employees, and the participants.
When we set goals for our instructional training, they need to be clear and concise so that everyone from the trainer and their manager, through to the learner, have clear expectations and understanding of what they need to do and why. For this reason, we set smart goals to explain the training outcomes we’re aiming for. We also ensure that the scope of the training, in other words, what the training will and won’t cover, is agreed upon by all the relevant parties. To do this, you can ask questions like:
- What level of understanding is needed of the workings of the equipment?
- Is there any requirement for basic maintenance or troubleshooting skills?
- Do learners need to know start-up and shut-down procedures?
- Are there other similar (but slightly different) machines learners also may need to use?
Thankfully, we have existing work routines and operating procedures to help us out here. Whilst things like scheduling of time on the equipment, timelines for completion and even industrial concerns could be a hinderance, local WHS guidelines, performance expectations and getting to understand organisational procedures are very beneficial in this situation.