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How to Measure Training

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How many times have you been asked to justify the time, effort and money that has been invested in your training? You and I know that any form of learning is 'a good thing', and that learning justifies itself, but that answer is unlikely to satisfy auditors and accountants. The question cannot be answered objectively without some kind of measurement. Deciding what these measurements should be is a challenging task and this article explores some conventional - and less conventional measures of training.

Training measurements can be divided into four categories:

Quantitative measures

The first three categories are quantitative. They are relatively easy to measure but can be perceived as bureaucratic. Quantitative measures have to be used with caution - e.g. one of the most popular of the time measures is the number of hours of training received by each employee per year. Many companies have a blanket target of 40 hours. Although this is useful as a guide, it is possible to imagine a situation where a highly skilled workforce would need only two hours of training a year. Training should always be related to the need.

Financial measures

Financial measures cover both costs and earnings and expressing these as ratios allows you to compare your costs and earnings with other companies. For example, the training budget can be expressed as apercentage of employment costs or company revenue. The budget can be divided by the number of employees to give the investment per employee. Other cost measures look at how much it costs to provide:

Earnings, where applicable, look at:

Utilisation measures

Utilisation covers both trainer utilisation and facility utilisation. Facility utilisation is the amount of use that is made of the training facility. Trainer utilisation includes:

Time measures

Time measures include:

Using quantitative measures for benchmarking

One of the advantages of using these quantitative measures is that they allow you to benchmark your training effectiveness against other companies. Figure 1 and Figure 2 are examples of two benchmarks:

Figure 1   Hours of training per employee per year  

Figure 2   Training investment as percentage of employment costs   These figures are historical and are used for illustration purposes only. Figures for the construction, finance, and office equipment industries were obtained from a Government White Paper. Saturn was a General Motors 'green field' car plant. Spirax Sarco is a steam systems company. RXM&SC was the Rank Xerox Manufacturing and Supply Chain.

Process measures

Many organizations have used quantitative measures to improve training effectiveness (and to put training on the business agenda) but there was a feeling that there was more to do beyond what quantitative measures could achieve. Alternative measures used by some of these organizations include:

Measuring training effectiveness, from a process point of view, also promises to be a fruitful line of research, providing participating organizations agree on philosophy and principles. Process questionsallow an assessment of training effectiveness to be made without getting bogged down in numbers.

One of the primary questions would be whether the organization has a training process. Figure 3, adapted from Managing the Training Process gives an example of such a process.

Figure 3   Example of a training process

This and other process questions, based on agreed principles, should be included in the training section of and organization's audit. Some quantitative measures can also be included providing:

Examples of process questions are:

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