Having recently started a new job, I have been subjected to all sorts of training. This got me thinking about the value of training vs learning.
Now, none of this is to say that all the training I have received over the last few weeks has been useless to me, or that I learnt nothing from it. A couple of the training sessions were actually incredibly useful, and packed full of information that I can carry forward with me. However, I cannot deny that some of the training I received was somewhat lackluster, and well – a complete waste of time.
So, I’ve ended up putting some of the training into categories in my own head.
The health and safety training firmly comes under the heading ‘box ticking exercise’. This is generally the kind of training that’s common sense. Such as ‘don’t lift more than you can manage’, ‘look both ways before crossing a busy road’, ‘don’t stick your fork in a plug socket’ kind of stuff. I’d argue that this is the kind of training that only people who actually deserve some kind of Darwin award or small children actually require. It sucked hours of my time away from far more productive things, while I sat there watching someone read the bleeding obvious from some PowerPoint slides. Yawn. That said, I am now fully qualified to pick up a box of paper. Apparently. I have yet to receive my shiny certificate proving this – although I’m sure that someone somewhere now has a document that they can point to explaining that I was fully health and safety trained, and thus avoid legal claims should I manage to somehow kill myself with a nicely labelled hot cup of coffee.
The next category comes under software training. This was useful to a point – it required participation, and the extra information gleaned from the presentations wasn’t just being read by rote from a PowerPoint presentation or booklet. That said, there was little here that I hadn’t already figured out through playing with the software myself. I guess this is the fuzzy ground between being trained on something and actually learning it. Not a complete waste of time, but definitely something I could just pick up on my own.
Finally, we come to actual job training. Being pointed towards specific functions of a .dll or development kit, with examples of usage, was incredibly useful given the lack of documentation. This is the kind of the training that I don’t see as a waste of time. It’s not information that can be found on google. The stuff was new, all in an area I had been previously unknowledgeable about. To anyone making training courses – more of this please. Hands on stuff that requires both learning and being taught is going to hold attention through the virtue of being both interesting and relevant.
Sadly, the majority of the training I have received in recent years mostly falls into the top two categories. It seems that training has become synonymous with being lectured by Captain Obvious, or covers things that I could figure out quite easily for myself. This is frustrating, as I’d much prefer that training be about learning – it would certainly feel more valuable on a personal level, and demonstrable at a professional level.
TL;DR – If you’re not learning anything on a training course, it’s probably a waste of time for everyone.