For years, one of the more compelling employee benefits has been tuition reimbursement, and for the most part it’s been a win-win for organizations. The organization provides enough assistance to get an employee through perhaps one college course, possibly more, and the employee will provide the rest themselves — overall a massive boon when they complete their degree.
However, as timelines have accelerated and the world starts to move on from college as a rule, certifications and skill-based bootcamps are becoming more and more worthwhile from both an individual and enterprise perspective. Not only do these require significantly less of a time investment than a college degree, but their out-of-pocket costs go from “there’s no way we are going to pay for your entire degree” to “that’s actually pretty reasonable.”
In addition, most certifications now have Continuing Education (CE/CEU/CPE/etc) requirements — an obligation on the part of the certificate holder to advance their skill sets in order to maintain the certification status. This means that employees are constantly looking at new and modified ways of doing things, which in turn increases organization productivity.
Bootcamps vs. self-paced online training: Pros and cons
Both bootcamps and Self-Paced Online Training (SPOT) have pros and cons when it comes to training styles, so which one gets the most bang-for-the-buck for enterprises when it comes to planning out required training for your employees? Let’s start with bootcamps
Bootcamps are by nature more appealing to organizations, simply because they’re a known quantity. They come from trusted vendors via known channels and are on a particular timetable. This means that any time out of the office for employees can be defined ahead of time and properly planned for. While this doesn’t mean that there won’t be additional time required for the user to completely cover the material, there are only a specific number of work hours that the organization will provide off-site.
Large organizations also have a unique ability when it comes to transportation and classroom-style bootcamps. If a major change is coming down the pipe, requiring an entire department to be trained quickly on something, enterprises can contact a training provider and ask if they would be able to hold an on-site bootcamp. While this doesn’t allow the employees to get 100% away from the office like a traditional bootcamp would, it does permit the complete group to get brought up to speed simultaneously and feed off of each other when it comes to questions and material coverage. The flipside of still having the department on-site also allows for the employees to be available in case of emergency within a short period of time.
Classroom-style bootcamps also provide physical materials in most instances, which can be a great benefit for organizations. While they may be frowned upon by individuals and increase the cost of the training significantly, it is very difficult to DRM protect or account-lock a physical book owned by an individual. Having the books available for the department to refer back to after the bootcamp is over, or having them available as resources for new employees, is something that still is of tremendous value long after the bootcamp is over.
Self-Paced Online Training (SPOT)
When we turn to SPOT training, on the other hand, instead of hard and rigid requirements we have adaptability and as-available time frames. If a department needs training on a topic but it’s considered a backburner necessity and won’t actually become relevant for a significant amount of time, SPOT may be worth considering.
For example: If a current project is known to have downtime associated with it and there’s nothing else going on at the moment, then having the resources available so that employees can effectively use that time to train is a better option than having them diving through Wikipedia on a slow afternoon.
We’ll also note that (if permitted) employees can use SPOT training on their home systems. This means that employees invest their own off-the-clock time into training in addition to time on the clock. This results in an overall benefit to both the organization and the user.
While the exact terms vary depending on vendor and training package purchased, a single license of SPOT training has the potential to be available for a very long time while providing training sessions for a significant number of employees — though most likely not simultaneously.
Keep in mind that SPOT is always with the employees, provided they have some form of Internet connection. This means no associated transportation or hotel fees and no reimbursements for food or drinks. SPOT also is usually cheaper than a bootcamp version, giving it the edge on initial investment required.
Bootcamps vs. SPOT: The downsides
Despite the strengths that both bootcamps and SPOT possess, they do both have downsides, and some can be quite significant.
Classroom-style bootcamps require transportation to and from wherever the bootcamp is being held, and if it only is available out of the area, that means time added on before and after the training session. Add to this the costs of transportation itself, lodging if necessary and other factors, it could add up very quickly. Online bootcamps are able to keep most of the strengths of a classroom style bootcamp without the added expenses, so it would be recommended to examine this option first when choosing a training option.
Not all employees can handle being overwhelmed by content over a very short period. They may be able to keep up on a day-to-day basis, but after the session they may struggle to recall information that was presented. Consulting with your employees would be recommended before scheduling a training session.
SPOT training sessions also don’t allow for real-time communication with the instructor, which may cause some confusion on the part of the employees if a particular point isn’t explained to their satisfaction. This can sometimes be resolved by finding a version of the training in question that is being presented by a trainer the employee has dealt with before.
The options listed above are all great solutions for enterprises and organizations to consider when making training available for their employees.
As a result, it is very important for management and the employees themselves to communicate what is expected of them, in order to decide on what method will be the most beneficial to both the employees and the organization in the long-term. Enterprises especially need to remember that if they have a number of employees requiring training at once, they have options when it comes to scheduling, locations and cost savings.