Many big names in language instruction in Indonesia for example like Wall Street English, English First and Berlitz make the largest portion of their profits on in-house training programs, usually focusing on business English. Additionally there are several smaller players like English Today which are completely focused on the corporate sector and are quite competitive. I predict though that in coming years corporate English instruction could change to become more affordable, effective and accessible. The driving force behind this will be the switch to online based training.
Online based training is already becoming common place for industries that rely on remote outsourcing to recruit talent. Industries like the localisation industry (translation services to help companies target new markets) have most of their training done through instructors online. The "quiz" based online training that was prevalent over the previous decade is not what I am discussing here. I'm talking about small groups of trainees studying a personalised curriculum with a skilled online instructor.
First though let us discuss why the status quo is going to become increasingly nonviable for companies looking to upgrade their team.
Problems With The Status Quo
I have been teaching Business English in-house for twelve years. I began in 2007 teaching at government departments and then went on to teach at NGOs, corporations and small businesses. One thing I found through these experiences is that an in-house trainer’s main challenge was on how to keep the trainees engaged and committed throughout the course.
Human beings prioritise. This is something natural and meaningful. Thus, most people will put immediate demands in front of long term gain. Subsequently employees usually turn up to the first training sessions motivated and in full force. However whatever the quality of training most in-house training programs will never see the same attendance again. In some organisations it may even become a fraction of what it was.
Some exceptions are when:
- The organisational culture is already effectively geared towards self-improvement
- Financial incentives are provided (either deducting from or adding to wages)
- There is a slump in business and many team members are under utilised
In addition to attendance there are some other inherent flaws with the traditional delivery of in-house training:
Large group sizes
Smaller group sizes are the single most effective pedagogical factor according to extensive research in educational psychology
Lack of personalisation
Trainees learn better from material that is tweaked to their individual interests and goals. This is possible to a certain degree in adapting material to particular organisations . However the smaller the group the better the personalisation. In the case of larger teams even complementary personality types can be paired together so the group is as conducive as possible.
One size fits all
In large groups you will almost always have a mixture of levels. A set curriculum is not conducive to a large group with mixed levels when it comes to language learning. A skilled instructor may be able to run up to three curriculums at a time, but this reduces their efficiency with any one level and it is most likely that the number of levels at an organisation outnumber three.
Inflexible study times
It is almost impossible to arrange scheduling that suits everybody in an organisation. Because of this some team members miss out on training despite the budget being used. Often these are team members that direly need to upgrade their communication skills like sales or external consultants. These are the people in the field doing presentations and meeting potential clients.
The Solution Is Here
- Small Group Sizes
- Level Appropriate Instruction
- Flexible Scheduling
- Improved Accountability = Improved Attendance
How Does it Work?
- Team is given a placement test and orientation
- Based on this test they are separated into groups of 4
- They are given personal instruction in these groups for 25 minutes each session
- These sessions are scheduled at times that suit the individual groups
- Assessment is given in a formative manner, increasing the number of effective sessions
- Real time updates of attendance and progress can be shared with Human Resource and Training staff
Investment Comparison Breakdown Example
2 X 2hr / week instruction
$50 per hour (trainer)
+$30 (transport) if the location is in a major city centre
$130/session X 8.6
Total = $1,118 per month
-Real number of employees trained: +-10/20 (due to previously mentioned variables)
-Efficiency of instruction: sub-optimal
-Total ours of productivity used: 172
Example $5hr X 172 =$860
Total cost PP: $118/month plus productivity cost
20 Participants = 5 groups
$25 Per 25min session (trainer)
5 X $25 = $125 X 8.6
Total = $1,075 per month
-Real number of employees trained: 20/20
-Efficiency of instruction: Prime
-Total hours of productivity used: Less than 86 Example: $5hr X 86 = $430
Total cost PP: $53.75/month minus productivity saving
Which equates to:
-Half the cost
-Double the effect
How To Get Started
There are international providers your company can use: Example: Verbling.com/enterprise
And local options: Example: English-Today-Online.com
You can also find an independent instructor you like and commission them to make such a program. Make sure they are experienced delivering online instruction to groups!
Remember --> Even a poor instructor will do better in ideal circumstances than a master instructor in poor circumstances.
In conclusion, online corporate training is more effective, efficient and affordable than traditional in-house training. Although not a common choice it is the one that can help give your team and company an added competitive advantage.