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76 Strategies to Attract and Retain a Capable Transportation Workforce Failure to Apply Training. Participants indicated that getting employees to apply what they have learned from training in their day-to-day activities is a challenge. This indicates that there is often a disconnect between what is emphasized in the training course and the reality of the work environment; it is difficult for staff to diagnose and redirect current work habits, and sometimes external trainers are too removed from the specific tasks and issues of the organization to make the training apply as well as it could. Failure to Update Training. The rapid pace of technology often leads to related training needs in order to utilize and remain current with new software capabilities. Thus the utility of specific training programs can be quickly depreciated by new functions and technologies. Employees who struggle to stay up-to- speed with new systems and technologies and who feel limited in relevant training opportunities may feel their options diminish within the organization and seek employment elsewhere. 10.2 Industry Strategies. Researchers and program managers identify the following programmatic strategies when describing industry efforts in "Developing Internal Staff Skills" (see Exhibit 10-2). While these strategies represent the general direction of human resource (HR) departments across the nation, it is important that the specific needs of your agency are used to guide the development and implementation of a program in your agency. Exhibit 10-2 Industry Strategies: Developing Internal Staff Skills Strategy Strategy Description Use Job Rotation Almost all of the focus group participants, both public and private sector organizations, cited the use of job rotation programs within their organizations. Job rotation is a developmental approach where an employee works consecutively through a series of positions to develop skills and obtain a broad exposure to the organization. Rotational assignments are often given to help prepare employees and managers for the responsibility of a higher-level position. Working on several different projects provides these employees with a better understanding of how the organization works as a whole. This also helps to spread institutional knowledge. Most organizations that have job rotation programs reserve these programs for high performers who are selected by a group of managers to participate. Offer Off-Site and Organizations indicated that the majority of their organization's training was Higher Education conducted onsite. However, most participants believed their organizations Training Opportunities were moving toward a more blended learning model. The blended learning model includes traditional face-to-face onsite and classroom training, along with offsite training, distance training, and e-training (i.e., Internet-based training). Organizations are also creating partnerships with universities where employees can gain college credit. Some organizations are even offering partial tuition support for employees who pursue relevant degrees and intend to continue working for the organization. Providing employees with incentives to pursue additional education not only conveys to the employee that the organization is invested in his/her development but simultaneously ensures that new and cutting-edge ideas are brought back into the organization.
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Developing Internal Staff Skills 77 Exhibit 10-2 (Continued) Industry Strategies: Developing Internal Staff Skills Strategy Strategy Description Offer Certification- Another effective technique is to link together training programs into a Type Programs certification or program curriculum. The curriculum is specific to a certain job class so that employees in that class must take all the trainings specified to "graduate" or be promoted to the next position. Organizations refer to these as "Corporate Colleges" and have found them to be an effective retention as well as capacity-building tool. Employees are more likely to continue employment and complete a curriculum of training compared to "one-off" training courses. Furthermore, employees are less likely to feel that they are missing out on a traditional college experience if they are enrolled in a "Corporate College." Tailor Training Participants indicated that when they provide employees with training that Opportunities to Build specifically meets their needs, they are more likely to stay with that Competency organization. These needs may be linked to their level or position in the organization. For example, positions that involve working closely with customers may require communication skills. Organizations have realized that in some of the more technical fields, communication skills are not being taught in the universities. Therefore, the organizations have implemented training courses that ask employees to write and present material in front of large groups and they are coached and mentored by experienced trainers. In terms of level-specific trainings, participants mentioned formalized training programs for managers. One such program focuses on practices, leadership skills, coaching, procedures, and policies. Another participant mentioned that their organization offers four structured programs geared toward a manager's specific level of management (i.e., front-line supervisors, managers, directors, and senior staff). Some of the more unique training programs are related to an employee's gender or cultural background. Providing training in English as a Second Language (ESL) has helped some organizations decrease on-the-job injury and increase retention. Organizations even hold workshops for women and others for minorities in non-traditional positions (such as construction) in which they review tasks and techniques related to successful retention in those positions. Attendees can discuss problems or issues they have experienced conducting tasks and workshop instructors can help them brainstorm solutions. Organizations have found that alternative populations may not openly seek this type of help in other forums and therefore may otherwise fall behind. Use Technology to Organizations have purchased software that allows an employee to search Support Training available trainings, enroll, indicate completion and save the completed trainings to a list of all the trainings they have completed. Beyond adding structure and efficiency to the training process, these systems remind employees of the skills the organization has given to them, which helps increase their organizational commitment. Besides using technology to manage training, some companies use the internet to provide the training courses, which they refer to as e-training. Many of the focus group participants specifically mentioned using e-training in their organizations. E-training allows employees to complete the trainings at night and on the weekends. E-training saves classroom expenses and meets the needs of geographically dispersed employees who may work on non-traditional schedules.