What is off-the-job training? (Plus methods and benefits)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 6 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Many people look for ways to develop their skills and knowledge throughout their careers. To aid in this, some employers run training programmes to help their employees improve their skills over time. Understanding what off-the-job training is, how you might benefit from it and what it entails gives you a better idea of what to expect if you choose to engage in this opportunity. In this article, we describe what off-the-job training is, list its various methods and detail some of its main benefits.

What is off-the-job training?

Off-the-job training, or off-site training, describes any education method where employees learn more about their chosen career and develop new skills away from their workplace. This kind of training generally helps employees perform their job more efficiently and with a greater understanding of their roles. On-the-job training, unlike off-site training, takes place at work, where an individual such as your employer, a management staff member or a human resources member runs a course. Off-site training can take place anywhere other than the workplace, including sometimes at resorts or training centres.

One of the benefits of off-site training is that it minimises distractions and provides access to training tools. It also allows employees to express their views and opinions, exploring new ideas that they might use in the workplace. Some off-site training programmes conclude with an employee evaluation or assessment test to ensure that the participants understand what's been taught. These tests help evaluate the performance and participation of trainees. Employers and employees can use these outcomes to continue their training once they're back in the workplace, supporting each other as they implement new techniques.

Related: Types of employee training programmes (with benefits)

8 off-site training methods

Off-site training can take numerous forms, especially as the industries that provide these programmes continue to change and innovate. They may also change depending on the industry you work in and the specific skills your employers are looking to develop. Understanding what each approach requires and the benefits they bring may improve your understanding of the experience. Below are some of the methods you may come across:

1. Lectures

Sometimes called classroom training, this technique of off-site training is usually provided for white-collar, office and management-level employees. It typically takes place in a classroom-like environment, with a trainer providing instructions in the form of a lecture. Trainees learn critical skills needed for their jobs and understand their job responsibilities, industry changes, legal requirements, regulations and ways to increase productivity. They can also ask questions. Classroom lectures also allow trainees to learn the management and administrative facets of their profession, helping to increase their awareness of key procedures and providing them with ways to progress in their careers.

2. Audio-visual

Another method of off-site training is learning through audio-visual methods. This covers learning material provided through films, television programmes, videos and other presentations. Education methods provided through this format often help improve a student's memory of the information taught. At corporate level jobs, customer care staff often administer this training to their employees. This teaches them how to interact with each other in a work environment and with customers. Audio-visual material may also cover personal, religious or health topics for the purposes of sensitivity training.

3. Simulations

Simulations are methods of off-site training that use equipment that might not be accessible in certain parts of the workplace. This training method primarily aims to teach trainees how to handle specialist equipment in an artificial or virtual reality space. For example, in the medical industry, participants may use a simulation to mimic delicate surgical procedures. This method is popular in other industries that operate under dangerous circumstances, where employers can't afford any mistakes.

Simulations can also assess an individual's skill level relatively cheaply, as the business doesn't risk damaging its own equipment. Another benefit is that they provide a one-on-one training experience for participants to learn directly from experts.

Related: Vocational training: definitions and examples

4. Vestibule training

Employees who handle various tools or types of machinery often undergo vestibule training. Vestibule training is similar to simulations, except they use a realistic mock environment to simulate real-life events. This allows trainers to monitor and supervise employees as they interact with dangerous equipment. For example, a warehouse employee may undergo vestibule training to handle complicated machinery under supervision and in a safe environment. Often, this type of training introduces employees to new machinery they may interact with regularly.

One benefit of this type of training is that it's more tactile, as you physically interact with machines that are safe to use in a mock environment. This type of training can incorporate groups of trainees at a time, while simulation training usually focuses more on one-on-one sessions.

5. Case studies

With case studies, trainees receive a situation or issue they're likely to interact with during their role. This is usually a written description of a real-world situation that's previously occurred to others in the field. They're then guided through the process of developing their critical thinking skills, where the instructor may help them analyse the situation before each trainee writes a written conclusion.

Instructors may then take everyone's written conclusions to review the pros and cons of each option as a group, helping trainees improve their decision-making skills and exploiting areas they may have overlooked. This type of training can also improve a team's communication and collaboration skills, as they discuss and develop each of their ideas together.

6. Role-playing

During role-playing training, trainees take on roles and act out situations with each other to help them better understand the learning concepts they're provided with. By having trainees act out the situations as if they were facing them in the real world, this method can help prepare employees to interact with a wide variety of situations. In particular, this is useful for employees who work in a customer-facing role.

This type of training may also be relevant for human resources employees, giving them an opportunity to practice hiring people or other challenging interactions. By using this space to practice and improve their communication skills, employees ultimately help others feel more satisfied with their professional interactions.

7. Programmed learning

Sometimes called programmed instructions, this technique helps employees who use subjects like maths and science in their daily responsibilities. This training method is more similar to traditional academic studying and is often conducted through a textbook or online computer learning service. It's possible for this training to be one-on-one with an instructor as part of a wider training programme, where trainees answer a question or series of questions related to the learning material.

These questions often focus on specialist knowledge that may or may not be directly related to the workplace, which employers can use to monitor an employee's skill level and assess whether any areas need improvement. The format of these questions can vary greatly, from multiple-choice questions to open statements.

8. Management games

This form of training splits employees up into large groups, where they then interact with a given circumstance. These are engaging, fun and social ways of learning, where each team competes in a simulated market. For example, trainees may choose how much of their simulated inventory to sell or maintain or how much to spend on advertising. Throughout this process, each group remains unaware of the other groups and the decisions they're making.

Management games help get people engaged quickly, as they enjoy the simulation and try to compete in a friendly environment. Trainees can learn leadership, teamwork, and organisational skills as they collaborate
to win. It's also an opportunity for people to develop their economic and business skills as they work within a simulated marketplace.

Related: 12 on-the-job training advantages when starting a new role

Benefits of off-site training

All methods of off-site training come with unique benefits and experiences that on-the-job training doesn't provide. Understanding these benefits as an employee helps you feel more prepared before starting this training. Some of these benefits include:

  • decreases employee turnover

  • reduces distractions

  • helps employees feel more valuable

  • offers opportunities to learn from others

  • improves employee confidence

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