Workforce

Increase Access to Training With Online Learning

Contractors must ensure their workforce has the training needed to be successful. Online training is a valuable channel to help contractors upskill their workforce and deliver improved business outcomes.
By Laura Miller
June 16, 2020
Topics
Workforce

In-person training has always been challenging for the construction industry—and that was true even before COVID-19 hit and made face-to-face training an impossibility. The distributed nature of construction work makes in-person education difficult to schedule, expensive to deliver and unwieldy to scale. This isn’t a small problem either.

The construction industry employs millions of people. That’s millions people who need to learn about the latest innovative technologies, maintain their certifications and licenses, and stay apprised of the relevant health and safety regulations. These are ideal conditions for the construction industry to embrace online training.

The Benefits of Online Training

A key benefit of online training is the ease of access for learners; irrespective of where they’re located or when they’re available. With the online delivery model, learners have the flexibility to take training on the devices of their choice when they have the ability to focus and absorb the content. This broad availability is a game-changer in the construction industry with its distributed workforce.

Online training also offers clear delivery benefits from a logistics standpoint. Trainers do not need to fly to onsite locations, and there’s no need to secure a classroom or lecture hall space. And, most importantly, companies do not need to scramble to gather a large group of professionals in one place, taking time away from jobsites. Online training also provides contractors with the opportunity to tailor content based on the varying needs of their learner audience.

In a classroom environment, professionals with 20 years of experience may be in the same room as those with two or three years, or those with electrical expertise may be grouped with others who focus more on structural elements. When this is the case, contractors may struggle to engage learners and deliver value. In contrast, online training programs can be segmented with different learning paths based on skillset, level of experience, and other audience variables. While this can be done in person, it typically adds logistical complexity and costs.

Why Online Training will Only Increase in Importance

Data from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce shows that between 61% and 81% of contractors report trouble finding skilled workers for their construction projects. Online training can be an effective means of addressing this skills gap and expanding the labor pool for the construction industry. A recent Construction Executive article notes, “continuing education is an integral part of the construction industry…[with] ample opportunities for operators to learn new or improve existing skills.”

The other factor that will positively affect the popularity of online training for at least the next few months is COVID-19. The global pandemic has complicated the process of in-person training. It has also driven a change in learners’ willingness to engage with online training. According to the 2020 Customer Education Benchmarks and Trends Report, 50% of responding organizations indicated that their students are spending more time engaged in training activities.

Online training can not only help workers adopt new processes, tools, and technologies, it can also be a key driver for building a skilled workforce and bridging the current skills gap.

Get Started Today

There is no better time than now to invest in an online training program. If contractors are looking for a place to start, consider recording training that has traditionally been delivered in person. Rather than focusing on a perfect output, aim for a minimum viable product that clearly provides the most relevant information to the widest possible audience. If contractors are unsure where customers are struggling, consider scheduling weekly “Office Hours” video sessions where customers ask questions directly.

As the pace of innovation increases and organizations adopt the latest technologies, it’s important for contractors to ensure their workforce has the training needed to be successful. Online training is a valuable channel to help contractors upskill their workforce and deliver improved business outcomes.

by Laura Miller
Laura Miller is a marketer and lead content writer at Skilljar, a Seattle-based customer education platform provider. She specializes in the development of resources related to the discipline of training for customer, partners, and internal audiences.

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