Career Development

What Is On-the-Job Training?

May 26, 2021

Sometimes even the most experienced and knowledgeable employees require some training to join a company. Learning on the job allows you to receive firsthand knowledge and experience performing tasks related to your job.

Employees in many industries and careers receive on-the-job-training, hands-on work training and education of specialised equipment. In this article, we will provide insight on what on-the-job-training means, its purpose and its benefits.

What is on-the-job-training?

It's easy to confuse on-the-job-training and learning by experience. Learning by experience is a concept that occurs via one's mistakes. For example, you may try to approach a situation related to your job, but you are unsuccessful. You then try modifying your approach until you succeed.

On-the-job-training, however, is a specific type of training that is prescribed and delivered at the workplace. This method of training provides instructions for employees at work. It may combine various aspects of the job with educational materials, such as observing others and using hands on experience to complete tasks under the watchful eye of a coworker, supervisor or outsourced trainer.

When you undertake OJT, you have to learn your employer's working process. You also need to know how to operate the company's tools, equipment or machinery related to your job description. OJT may also require that you observe a more experienced colleague do certain aspects of the job.

OJT seeks to prepare you for your job. The instructions and course you complete during this training can help you learn the skills and knowledge that you need to carry out your role within the organisation efficiently. Once you've finished your training, you should have the knowledge and skill set needed to perform a considerable portion of the tasks that your job position requires without needing supervision.

The most effective on-the-job-trainings are:

  • Targeted to your particular job description
  • Helpful to you
  • Full of helpful information
  • Timely
  • Relevant

Does on-the-job-training help students?

If you're a student and have recently found a job and lack any previous experience on the job, your employer may provide extensive on-the-job-training to help you learn the ropes of the job position. Sometimes students may complete on-the-job-training during their academic instruction at a college, high school or university.

In some cases, schools motivate students to finish their internships to pass an exam. Such internships help the students receive hands-on experiences in their preferable career paths while simultaneously earning school credits.

Besides learning hands-on procedures and skills for their career field, students may also learn how their chosen industry's workplace functions. General workplace professional norms include, but are not limited to, company hierarchy, dress code, industry jargon, productivity expectations and professional relationships with colleagues.

What are the types of on-the-job training?

Organizations approach on-the-job-training in different ways. Some companies take the structured approach, some prefer an unstructured method and other workplaces use a blended type of learning for their hires.

What is the difference between structured and unstructured on-the-job training?

A structured on-the-job-training allows the employer to plan for how a hire advances through every training step. Their plan may include a checklist of tasks, a list of the desired training goals and details about who is appointed to oversee the activity and every job.

Some OJT programs also provide for a designated training manager or a contract employee who fulfils their training. Structured on-the-job-trainings typically takes a lot of time and effort to start, but they are usually more effective at making sure that you're prepared for your new position. A structured OJT also allows you and your trainers to have a sense of accountability.

On the other hand, an unstructured OJT involves shadowing an experienced colleague for a few days or even weeks. Your employer may ask you to observe how a single employee or many different colleagues learn their job position skills.

An unstructured OJT plan is usually enough for jobs that don't require employees to have specialised skills or perform complex tasks. The best thing about this type of OJT method is that it doesn't need one to spend hours planning. It is easily customizable based on your set of existing knowledge and skills.

What are the differences between blended learning and standalone OJTs?

As mentioned above, unstructured OJTs through job shadowing may be enough preparation for a role. Organizations use the standalone method for positions that aren't complicated, or if the employee has experience in their field.

Blended learning combines on-the-job-training with other variations of instructions. For instance, an employee might spend some time in the training period learning from another colleague and getting hands on experience about the company.

They may spend some more time going over written works, attending an industry training event, watching relevant videos and participating in online courses. Combining standalone OJT and blended learning can be very effective for jobs that require complex tasks or other specialised skills. It also helps companies that have specific processes.

Is on-the-job-training beneficial?

On-the-job-training provides many more benefits than hiring guest speakers, paying for conferences or buying paper manuals that won't be read. A well-thought-out OJT can give employees comprehensive job preparation allowing them to succeed in their jobs and ensure a productive workplace.

Employees gain additional expertise, knowledge and motivation to excel at their job. In turn, companies benefit from having motivated individuals who are invested in reaching and achieving company goals.

Benefits for employees

Below are some compelling benefits for employees

1. Compensation for training

If your employer mandates that you undertake OJT, they'll also have to pay you for your time while you acquire the necessary skills for your job.

2. Skill development

Many new hires usually find workplace training to be more informative and engaging. This increases their interest in learning and acquiring new skills. As a new hire in OJT, you can also become invested in your job as you learn new skills that challenge you to achieve more goals in your role.

3. Improved retention of information

Employees also have a high chance of retaining information when they learn in a hands-on setting. OJT can enhance job performance since employers are engaged during training and can make you more likely to feel motivated to increase your understanding and competence at work.

4. Team atmosphere

OJT training will move you closer to your peers and supervisors from the beginning. Via OJT training, you'll get to know your colleagues better and get a sense of the work environment by working directly with your team.

Benefits for employers

Here is how OJT benefits employers:

1. Learning process is speeded up

OJT quickens the learning process and reduces your employees' chances of correction since they're done with the training. Instead of employees making assumptions about the industry's general procedures and practices, you can provide them with the exact techniques quickly and effectively.

2. Cost-effective

OJT reduces money that would have been used to pay for expensive conferences and to hire guest speakers. Employees get to learn from experienced colleagues and supervisors. In the process, the current employees get to sharpen their skills and turn their daily tasks into an opportunity to prepare new hires to increase workplace efficiency.

3. Reduced employee turnover

On-the-job-training helps employees feel more motivated and encouraged hence more confident in their skills and experience. When employees feel confident in their skills and the workplace, companies have a reduced likelihood of experiencing turnover because of someone quitting or not being up to par with the company's expectations.

Training tips

To get the most out of your OJT, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Take notes: Always keep a notebook and pen with you during your training to write down any important dates. Your notes will provide you with a good reference when you start the job later.
  • Ask questions: If the trainer was unclear on any section of the training, you should speak up. Ask for clarification on any element that may seem puzzling to you. You can also write the questions down as you think of them and approach the trainer at the end of the session.
  • Go through your notes on your own time: At the end of the day, go through your notes. Take some time when you're not at work and learn more about what the job requires. You can research tips and tricks to write effective office memos. Alternatively, you can watch a how-to video for how to use a new type of software in your workplace.

Advantages of OJT

On-the-job-training has various advantages, including:

1. Easily applicable

Employees don't have to go through hundreds of pages of dusty old manuals to get how the job works. OJT focuses on the employees' needs and allows them to access information easily online.

2. It just makes sense

On-the-job-training cuts costs of in person training and travels. Unlike employee training that takes time, money, and effort, a clearly defined and well-planned OJT creates a shortcut to ensuring that employees get the most experience and skill while saving on cash.

3. Flexibility

Employees will probably not consume all types of information at the same time and in the same format. Making available the different learning tools can help you in the best sense for the employer and employees.


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