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Training: In-House or Outsourced?

Do you have the resources and the qualified personnel to accomplish your training goals in-house?  You may find that after analyzing your company’s training needs you don’t have the best training materials or most qualified personnel in house. The myriad of government regulations- federal, state, local- that determine training requirements seem to change constantly, and can lead to heavy fines if not addressed by your training program. This can be overwhelming to many businesses. 

It can also be frustrating, and expensive, to maintain the currency of a library of training materials as regulations and procedures change. When new materials, equipment or processes are introduced into the workplace, the related training procedures and requirements also change. It can be difficult to keep up with these changes, and be sure that all regulations are met and the information you provide employees is correct. Today’s employer has only two choices for ongoing training needs- create and maintain an in-house safety staff, or seek that service through outsourcing.

What is Outsourcing?

What is “Outsourcing”, anyway? The first thing that many think of is hiring third party contractors to come in and teach classes. That is but one of the many forms of outsourcing. Outsourcing is not only bringing in instructors but also resources and opportunity, or sending selected staff out to gather knowledge and training to bring back to your organization. When you obtain a video series or pre-packaged training program to use for training, or use an online training service to augment your training – you are outsourcing.

There are a variety of reasons why an organization might decide to outsource training:

  • You have complex regulations to comply with, such as those governing safety or environmental issues.
  • You have legal requirements to meet, such as those governing equal opportunity, harassment, and discrimination.
  • You have a small staff and don’t have enough (or any) qualified trainers.
  • You have large numbers of employees who need refresher training.
  • You want to keep employees up to date on what’s happening in your industry.

Companies often go to considerable expense and effort to comply with government regulations regarding training employees to protect their health and the environment. Legally mandated training requirements can range from simple steps for good housekeeping to complex procedures for handling and disposing of hazardous wastes. Your goal is to make sure your training program keeps your company in compliance and protects employees and the environment.

Bringing Home the Bacon

Sending employees to conferences and seminars can be an excellent way for them to learn cutting-edge information as well as to find out what similarly placed employees in other organizations are thinking and doing. Capturing and implementing the best practices of others helps keep your programs fresh and current. The new ideas gained from hearing and seeing the solutions employed by others with the same goals can lead to greater insights toward your own programs- making the strong elements stronger, while improving the weaker areas.

The obvious drawbacks are the costs and time away from work. But, in many cases, especially when there are only a few employees involved and there is a lack of in-house expertise in this area, the benefits of conferences and seminars may well be worth the costs.

When choosing which conferences to attend, consider:

  • Who is putting on or sponsoring the event- Is the focus on actual training of use to your organization, or is it focused on selling a product or service?
  • How applicable the subject matter is to your company?
  • What are the qualifications of the presenter(s) or panel?
  • What professional affiliations does the conference or seminar have?
  • Is it a new conference or an annual or industry event?
  • How many attendees are expected to attend?  Will it provide a good chance for networking?
  • Consider the location and cost of the event. Are there other opportunities for similar training closer to your location?
  • Is it a multiday event?  You may be able to attend (or have trainee(s) attend) only the day(s) with sessions most relevant to your company, with  lower overall cost than attending the entire conference.

Choosing to outsource training is a big decision. But it may be the right choice in certain circumstances. How much a company outsources depends on cost, needs, and the ability to meet those needs in-house. While some companies outsource everything, others prefer to invest in an in-house solution- staff and materials- to have a greater degree of control over their program. It depends on the resources available and the determination of how much of those resources can be committed to the safety program.

Tomorrow’s follow-up article will look at the many resources available should outsourcing be your company’s best solution.

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Categories: Safety, Training
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