How to build the case for staff training in five simple steps

Neil Lewin, senior consultant at Festo Training & Consulting

(Credit: Shutterstock)
(Credit: Shutterstock)

Training will make you better at your job and increase your chances of a promotion.

But it can be a challenge to get the time and budget you need – whether you’re a manager who needs to develop your team, or an individual who wants to upskill. That’s why it’s important to make an effective business case for training, says Neil Lewin, senior consultant at Festo Training & Consulting. Your training need might be owing to an internal skills shortage or the introduction of new technology, but the steps towards making an effective business case are always the same. 

1 Prove the need 

Define the problem and be specific about the challenges that you and your team are facing. For example, do you need to minimise downtime or reduce energy use? Look at the technology and experience that you already have and see where training could fill the gaps. Training is a great way to improve what you do, but it can be most effective during times of change. Digitalisation means that many organisations are experiencing transformational change. Identify where your business is now and where you want to be in the future, and show how training will get you there. 

2 Measure where you are now 

Now that you know what the challenge is, use data to measure where you are now. Know your skills, or the skills of your people, set benchmark performance and utilise data on your current performance. A Knowledge Check or Training Needs Analysis can help to assess your existing skill level or knowledge within your team. But remember, it’s about identifying where training is needed, not about showing people up. 

3 Set goals and targets

Based on the challenges, opportunities and performance data, use the Smart system to make sure that each goal that you set is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. For example, you could use the Overall Equipment Effectiveness Six Big Losses in Manufacturing – unplanned stops, planned stops, small stops, slow cycles, production rejects and start-up rejects. Use this framework to set targets of where you want to be. 

4 Address the big business objection

Perhaps the most common concern we hear is, “If we train our people they’ll leave”. This is a popular misconception and one that has seen training levels fall to their lowest in decades (more than 50% of engineers last received formal training over 10 years ago). Respond by highlighting the skills shortage. In a competitive jobs market, if engineers aren’t trained internally, they are likely to leave the business for a competitor. And training isn’t just a retention tool, it’s an excellent recruitment tool. A training and development culture makes a company a sought-after place to work. 

5 Measure success

When you apply for additional training, a promotion or a transfer, it’s important to show that the training you received has had an impact. In my next article, I’ll share three steps to help you prove that training has been successful.

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