Formal training refers to a job related training that includes courses or programs that are related to an employee’s current or future job. This kind of training involves a structured plan where the learner is directed by a trainer who follows a given program.
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The learner receives formal recognition after completing the course. This form of recognition may be in form of a certificate, a diploma or a degree. On the other hand informal training is unorganized training that does not possess specific learning objectives, standard curriculum and evaluation approach.
Both the formal and informal training are essential in the improvement of work related skills, knowledge as well as current work related practices. This notwithstanding, some employees do not take pleasure in it as it is often about increased productivity at work and not about individual development.
Nevertheless, continuous training of employees is a very important aspect of any organization that aspires to satisfy and exceed its customers’ expectations. The cotemporary economy is knowledge based and many organizations are nowadays channeling a lot of their resources to equip their workforce with appropriate knowledge and skills in order to help them adapt to the ever changing workplace requirements.
Training of employees is a very important element in every organization because it helps to facilitate innovation, promote efficiency and assist firms to establish a competitive edge in the stiff competitive global market.
The management can opt to use either formal or informal methods to equip their workforce with relevant skills. Formal methods of training are considered as the best choice for equipping employees with relevant knowledge and skills, although informal training is the most common method used by organizations to train their workforce since it is more affordable (Ashton & sung , 2002).
Factors to Consider when selecting an appropriate Training approach
There are several considerations that determine the approach that an organization selects to train its workforce. Some of the factors that greatly influences the preferred method for workplace training include the fund available, timeliness of training required, complexity and specific of the skills and knowledge required as well as the motivation and capacity of the learners involved.
Formal training is more expensive than informal training, but it is the most appropriate method to use in order for the learners to get the required knowledge and skills in a timely manner. Informal training method which is the most commonly used training method is often less expensive and also less reliable.
It is best suited for training those employees who are self motivated and possess the capacity to pursue their own training goals. Informal training often takes a longer period than formal training which can often make it even more expensive than formal training due to the loss of time of production.
It is noted that those tasks which are highly complex and involves changing roles are best learned through formal training which is often quite expensive. On the other hand, those tasks that are highly specific and routine are best learned through partial formal approaches.
When timeliness of the training is crucial, formal training should be considered as the best approach. In such cases the employees that require such skills can enroll for appropriate programs at a local college, university or training center.
Alternatively, the concerned organization can opt to invite appropriate professionals to come and teach their workforce appropriate knowledge and skills at their workplace. The later process is more reliable, faster, but more expensive. When self-directed formal teaching is selected, the apprentices are required to be able to conceptualize their strategy to training and simultaneously be highly motivated.
Informal training is the most prevalent approach of employees training. Informal trainings do not involve a professional trainer, formal structures or curriculum. The learners are not issued with a certificate after the completion of the training program.
Informal training method is best suited for experienced workforces who have greater capacity and are not in dire need for certification, but rather their main aim is to acquire the required skills to enhance their performance.
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On the other hand, formal training is best for those young learners who need to learn new technology or specific procedures. In this case, formal certifications for young learners are very important since they can use their certificates to strengthen their resumes for other similar ventures or for promotion considerations (Cofer, 2000).
Informal training and development is not generally taken a serious learning method. The informal trainings are not accompanied with specified training objectives and their evaluation processes fails to have effective strategy to assess the realization of the desired goals.
Informal training happens so casually such that majority of people do not even realize they are undergoing any training. This attitude makes the learners who undertake informal training less motivated which eventually prolongs the training period (Hanley, 2008).
Extended training period can greatly negatively impact on the production, since the learners will not finish their training within the expected duration. The only effective informal training is the learning that takes place from job experience.
Examples of such informal learning is where employees learn from each other though discussions about certain issues or sending employees to certain seminars to listen to prominent speakers concerning certain issues pertaining to their work. Therefore, informal training cannot be considered as the best method of learning especially for the young and inexperienced employees that forms the big portion in many organizations (Bell, 1977).
Formal training is based on standard formal learning approach. It involves formal structures, specific goals and curriculum. The method also entails specified methods that trainers uses to assess the learners realization of objectives at the end of the course.
Those learners who are successful in realizing the course objectives are issued with appropriate certifications. In formal systematic training, the learning occurs in various phases that precede each other. The first phase involves appropriate experts assessing the knowledge or skills that are needed by the employees in order to enhance their performances.
Once the expert identifies the knowledge and skills that are needed by the employees he/she designs appropriate training for them in order to equip the employees with the required skills and knowledge. The planning includes identification of relevant goals and objectives, the training methods to be adapted to realize the goals and objectives and the best evaluation strategy that will be used to evaluate the realization of objectives.
The phase is then followed by the development of the training methods and materials. This stage entails identifying the appropriate teaching strategies to disseminate the needed knowledge and skills. It also involves preparing appropriate scheme of works and lesson plans that will be used to guide the training process (Douglas, 2001).
The scheme of work and lesson plans will help the trainer to manage his/her time accordingly so that to ensure that the training ends at the expected period. The trainer moreover collects all the necessary materials that he/she will require in the training process.
These include relevant books, journals, and magazines either from the library or internet. After collecting the needed materials, the trainer then uses the scheme of work and lesson plans prepared to implement the training.
The end of the training is marked with the evaluation process where those learners who are successful in realization of the course objective are certified. Systematic approach is often goal oriented. That is, it often helps organizations address their needs.
The outcomes of each stage are used in the proceeding stage. It is important to note that not all formal methods are systematic; this is because some courses or workshops have goals, methods and evaluations that are parallel and not integrated.
The methods employed are not tailored to meet the course objectives and the evaluation methods are aimed on how the learners feel about the learning experiences, rather than how the learning experiences helps the learners to get the course objectives.
Therefore, concerned managements should ensure that the formal trainings offered to their employees are systematic. They can guarantee this by recommending their employees to take the needed courses from accredited institutions (Bratton, Helms, Pyrch & Sawchuk, 2004).
Self directed learning approach involves the learner selecting what training and development he/she will undertake and how. Self directed learning gives the learner an opportunity to identify his/her learning goals, objectives, methods and evaluation strategy to use to assess whether the goals were met.
This type of learning is becoming common nowadays. Self directed learning approach can either be informal or formal. Informal self directed learning process involves an employee identifying appropriate topics and activities to discuss and practice with his/her colleagues at work.
Formal self directed training involves a learner selecting and pursuing his/her own learning goals, methods and evaluation processes. It has been established that the most successful skill nowadays in the ever changing workforce is the skill in self reflection.
This skill is suitable for a highly motivated and self driven employee who has the ability to focus on the workplace as a continuous opportunity to learn. Those employees who take this orientation are successful in accomplishing successful learning for continued productivity and learning. Self-directed learning programs have been noted to possess many benefits over traditional classroom learning for employees in the workplaces irrespective of their capacity of duty.
Researches have shown that classroom instructions for employees in workplaces possess some vital weaknesses that render them less effective. Some of the problems that have been linked with them include challenges in coping with short life span, accommodating the learning process at the same time not compromising productivity, giving the employees an opportunity to pursue activities that interests them and meets their needs.
Self-directed formal learning has been identified as the best approach in learning for employees in their workplaces. They are the best training methods because employees are given an opportunity to pursue those trainings that are consistent with their interests and needs.
This makes the employees to be highly motivated to learn. In addition, the learning strategy saves an organization considerable training costs, since learners assist each other in practical and timely materials. The method has been noted to greatly enhance performance in organizations because employees are able to get opportunity to learn from their work experiences and apply their learned skills in their workplace.
This learning process involves someone other than the learner directing the learning process. The other person specifies the goals to be met, the method of learning and evaluation. This is the most common method of formal learning is use in colleges, training centers and universities.
Other-Directed Learning process issues diplomas and certificates at the end of the course. The learning process is often considered as being generic since it focuses on the needs of most learners, but is not tailored to address the needs of a specific learner.
The method has a major shortcoming since a learner may pay tuition fees and being equipped with some skills that he/she may not ever apply. Another example of Other-Directed Learning is the employees’ development plans.
The plans spot performance goals, methods to realize them and who to evaluate their realization. This type of training is very instrumental in helping employees get relevant knowledge and skills in a timely manner. The weakness that is associated with this type of learning is their tendency to make the learner became more passive and over-relying on the expert to direct the learning process (McNamara, 2011).
McDonald Chain of Restaurants
McDonald’s chains of restaurants have been successful in establishing a very successful global brand. The popular McDonald’s fast food restaurants started as a simple restaurant in San Bernardino in California.
The restaurant initially was being run by two brothers namely Dick and Mac McDonald and was selling milk shake machines. When Raymond Croc, a salesman heard about the success of the business, he convinced the two brothers to let him join them. In 1963 the restaurant had become a success. Nowadays, the McDonald’s fast food restaurants have more than 30,000 restaurants in over one hundred countries.
Moreover, statistics show that approximately 40% of Americans take their meals outside their homes and surprisingly, one out of four Americans who take their food outside their homes eat at McDonald’s fast food restaurants. The restaurants offer food to more than 5 million people daily (Olson, 2009).
The successes of the restaurants have been attributed to their highly skilled workforces that are also highly motivated. The highly skilled McDonald management pioneered very successful strategies that enable the restaurants penetrate new markets and dominate the existing markets.
The McDonald restaurants introduced the concept of fast food industries that has enabled the industry to command a big share in the sales of fast foods. The McDonald initiated a new strategy that involved fast foods industries preparing foods prior to customers placing their orders strategy.
There before restaurants prepared food after customers ordering. This strategy helped McDonald to undercut their competitions up to 50%. The resultant increased sales helped McDonald to cut down its expenses as a result the benefit that is associated with economies of scales.
The management at the McDonald had realized the importance of an educated and skilled workforce early enough. The corporation had pioneered the training of its employees with the opening of Hamburger University in 1961. The opening of the university was aimed at maintaining a highly competitive workforce in the restaurants to enable the corporation overcome the highly competitive restaurant market.
McDonald is the largest corporation that employs young people in Australia. It is in fact the largest Australian employer and trainer. It have employed more than 85, 000 people in Australia in its more than 80 restaurants. That great number of its employees signifies a greater responsibility for the corporation to train its workforce.
Its responsibility to train its employees is reinforced by being the corporation that offers many Australians their first job. McDonald therefore accepts the responsibility of equipping its young workforce through formal trainings in order to help them succeed in life, despite the carrier path they opt to follow thereafter.
McDonald trainings involve equipping its workforce with very relevant skills that entails self discipline, teamwork, communication skills as well as customer services among others. McDonald believes that people are their most important ingredients and that’s why they invest a lot of money to train their workforce to help them to enhance their performance.
The corporation spends more than $ 40 million annually in training its workforce at all levels. McDonald in Australia is a Registered Training Organization that has operated for more than 10 years. The organization is an accredited organization that trains and offers certifications to many graduates up to advanced diploma of Business Management.
The trainings that are offered in McDonald are formal, structured, self-placed programs that direct one to further national accredited qualifications. These programs provides strong basis for a career in management at McDonald, retail or hospitality industry.
The McDonald Training Organization offers a first level Certificate II program in Retail. This certificate is given to those employees that show some potential in work performance. The training is offered as part-time as the employees continue working in the restaurants.
The employees who receive this training are not charged anything, but surprisingly they are paid for the time spent for trainings. In addition to first the level Certificate II program in Retail, the employees in McDonald are also offered The Certificate II in Retail that is aimed to develop and improve skills in the business.
The program is offered as a school based part time program. The training is aimed at adding recognized qualifications national wide to young people. The other certificate III in Retail is given to distinguish senior crews and crew trainers. It is tailored in a manner to develop more advanced skills in business operations. It acts as a good foundation to a management career.
Those employees that opt to progress into management mainly use these qualifications to further their career pathway that will lead them to more qualifications that will enable them rise through the ranks. It is noted that approximately 80% of McDonald’s managers starts as crew.
It is also noted that those people that had undertaken these courses in McDonald are very effective in their duties. Examples of such successful people include Guy Russo who started as a crew at 15 years in a McDonald restaurant in Australia. By taking the advantages of these training programs in McDonald, he was able to rise to the top management.
Eventually he managed to rise to become a Managing director and a CEO of McDonalds Australia. Another example of a person who has been successful in rising up to the highest rank through the trainings offered to McDonald employees is Catriona Noble.
She started as a crew in 1984 at age 15 and eventually ended up becoming a managing director and CEO of McDonald Australia. Moreover, she became the first woman to hold the aforementioned positions in McDonald (Orpen, 1999).
McDonalds Development Program (MDP) is conducted at both the corporate training centers as well as at regional offices. The program embarks on the training of potential leaders who have been identified and nurtured by the crew training program.
The training is reinforced by other series of extra back up courses that are aimed at imparting relevant management skills to potential leaders (Scot, 2011). The trainings acts as back up of what they learn in the restaurants.
It helps identified potential leaders develop management, communication and leadership skills. Management Training Center is a UK McDonald training facility that offers business management and restaurant operations skills to franchise and management employees in the entire United Kingdom. This center provides more than 1500 managers yearly. The facility greatly boosts the performances of McDonald employees in the United Kingdom.
It is clear that an educated workforce plays a major role in the success of any organization. Organizations use both formal and informal trainings to pass the required knowledge and skills to their workforce. Although they use both methods, formal training is considered as the best method to equip employees with appropriate knowledge and skills.
Formal training is taken as the best option of learning because it possesses specific structures, curriculum and defined method to evaluate the learners. Formal training makes the learning process more reliable and helps learners to play an active role in the learning process in order to be awarded certificates at the end of the program.
Being actively involved in the learning process help the learners to conceptualize the learning goals and objectives that eventually help them to enhance their performance at their workplace. On the other hand, informal training is not considered as the best approach of learning, despite the fact that it is the commonly used method to equip the employees with required skills.
It is not considered as a very effective method of learning because it lacks specific objectives, standard curriculum and evaluation method. Moreover, informal training is not suitable for training those skills that have tight time frames since learners take longer time spans to conceptualize the learning goals and objectives.
Organizations that have been successful in their endeavors have realized the importance of formal trainings for their employees and have invested a lot of their resources in formal training in order to equip their employees with relevant knowledge and skills to enable them enhance their performance. McDonald is a good example of a successful corporation that can link its success to the formal training it gives to its employees.
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