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SOJT vs. OJT

Unstructured OJT is frequently the method organizations rely on for training. Unstructured OJT is typically “follow Joe or Jenny around” or “deep-end” training where the person is expected to sink or swim. The costs and problems arising from the unstructured approach are solved with Structured OJT.

Definition of Structured OJT

Stuctured OJTThe term was coined by Prof. Ron Jacobs, OSU, 1995 “A planned process of developing competence on units of work by having an experienced employee train a novice employee at the work setting or a location that closely resembles the work setting”. Or, to put it in a nutshell, it is the same as classroom instruction with lesson plans, handouts, tests, and by trained instructors—except it is done one-to-one.

The “structure” of (structured) OJT is the same as classroom training. The acronym is ADDIE

Analysis – jobs and tasks are analyzed to determine what needs to be learned

Design – objectives and the instructional process are designed

Development - lesson plans and tests are written

Implementation - instructors are trained and trainees are trained on the job

Evaluation – trainees are tested for competence and records are made

Where is SOJT used Internationally?

  • All EU nations require it
  • Japan requires it
  • All British commonwealth countries require it
    • Every occupation in Australia has a complete training package for assessment and workplace training.
    • Not just industry – business as well, including all bookkeeping, accounting, banking, etc.

Where is SOJT used in the US?

  • In the military
  • In a small percentage of companies.
  • In some companies and some jobs – usually as apprenticeship
    • The DOL is beginning to emphasize apprenticeship more and refers to it as structured OJT on occasion
    • But the DOL still regards OJT as informal training
    • Consequently, Training Magazine and the ASTD don’t report it as training in annual reports
    • So, most businesses don’t hear about OJT at all…
    • Yet 90% of an employee’s workplace knowledge and skills are learned through informal on-the-job training

Problems with informal or unstructured OJT (also known as the buddy system)

  • The selected “trainer” may not have the time or inclination to help the new employee learn
  • The “trainer” may teach bad habits or wrong methods
  • The employee may not get enough practice to learn well
  • Records are not kept so the supervisor may not know what the employee knows after “training”
  • Important stages and processes may be omitted – they don’t know what the don’t know
  • These errors will be compounded if the “trained” employee is given responsibility to train others
  • Lack of opportunity for training is one of the main reasons given by employees for quitting
  • Safety issues tend to be ignored and unauthorized decisions may be made
  • Unstructured OJT cannot support quality or ISO programs

Benefits of Structured OJT

  • Higher productivity and quality due to employees’ ability to work faster and more accurately.
  • Measurable reduction in errors and waste.
  • Decreased training time – less nice-to-know content.
  • Improved standardization and consistency in critical job tasks.
  • Increased confidence results in higher morale and team spirit.
  • Less turnover and absenteeism.
  • Competency testing provides better records and HR data.
  • Staff are accustomed to learning and are more willing to take on new tasks/skills , providing for more flexibility at all levels.
  • Supervisors with instructor training become better supervisors.
  • Results of training are documented, so quality and ISO programs are supported.
  • Structured OJT can follow classroom on internet training to ensure real competence
  • Studies show that employees who are trained with structured OJT require only 20% as long to achieve mastery as those in informal OJT. That 80% difference is time your employees can spend being productive.
  • Finally, structured OJT is not free. It costs time, money and effort. (But as the saying goes, if you think training is expensive, try not training…)
  • But…some structured OJT programs fail. In virtually every instance, it was due to management’s failure to support it.

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Ways of Using SOJT

  1. As a one-time solution, e.g., American Airlines new accounting system was initiated worldwide on the same day
  2. As the primary means of training, e.g., factory assembly line
  3. Using multiple training modules for a single occupation, e.g., apprenticeship
  4. To follow up after classroom or computer-based courses

Summary of why Structured OJT so much better than informal OJT?

  • Studies show that employees who are trained with structured OJT require only 20% as long to achieve mastery as those in informal OJT. The 80% difference is time your employees can spend being productive.
  • Studies also show that structured OJT is only half as expensive as informal OJT in terms of supervisor’s time, and reduced output and quality.
  • Informal OJT is unplanned, un-evaluated, un-documented, and un-supportive of quality and ISO programs.
  • Structured OJT is planned, prioritized, and scheduled. Trainers are trained; trainees learn quickly and correctly, and are evaluated; and, the results are documented, so quality and ISO programs are supported.
  • Structured OJT can support your classroom training and internet training by providing follow-up on-the-job practice to ensure real competence.
  • Finally, structured OJT is more effective in every respect than informal OJT — but it’s not free. It costs time, money and effort.