A question that businesses and tradespeople often ask themselves, is whether regulatory demands for continual professional development, and other coaching, is best met by online or face-to-face training.
The potential lower cost of online training may be a compelling argument for many, but businesses are increasingly finding the positive factors of face-to-face training simply cannot be replicated online. This is particularly true within manual trade industries, such as construction.
Cost outweighed by flexibility
Even though cost is touted as a big advantage of online training, it isn’t always so. Some online training is more expensive than face-to-face, even though it is restricted in its nature: there is no opportunity to deviate from course elements and address related questions (where some students really learn about a particular scenario).
In the classroom, learners can ask questions more easily with answers helping fellow students. Trainers can draw on their own experiences, and adapt ‘to the crowd’: people learn in different ways, and face-to-face training allows these different learning styles to be catered to.
This is particularly true with tradespeople – ‘hands on’ occupations are learned more easily when taught with ‘hands on’ methods.
It’s all about the relationship
A good trainer will not only adapt training method to his students, but also build a personal relationship with them. He or she will be able to assess best learning methods of individuals, provide considered and immediate feedback, and use body language to assert specific and important points.
This relationship enables the dynamism of face-to-face training that simply is not possible via an online program.
And, while talking about relationships, there have been many great professional friendships built in the course of face-to-face training that last for years: the training doesn’t stop upon exam or final test – learning from business acquaintances goes on and on. Some of our student-trainer relationships at The Change Network have lasted for longer than fifteen years!
Seeing and doing are two different things
While some e-learning courses give possibilities for practice, via simulation programs, for trades this is impractical. Face-to-face training programs allow students to practice new skills or methods with each other and the trainer. Seeing and doing are two different things: the act of doing solidifies theoretical tutoring, and helps students learn from each other, again bringing prior experience to the table.
Building the future face-to-face
Online training can certainly be effective, and especially for specific, perhaps more academic, subjects. However, those that argue classroom or face-to-face training should be replaced by online programs, or those businesses that buy on cost only, are ignoring the unique (and incredibly valuable) advantages of having a coach presenting a face-to-face, hands-on course of learning.
While online training may save on costs, and can be taken at an individual’s own leisure, fitting in with current day-to-day responsibilities, it simply cannot provide the many benefits of good face-to-face training with an experienced coach. Nowhere is this more evident than in the construction industry.