On-the-job training (OJT) is the training of employees at the place of work while he or she is doing the actual job
Usually a professional trainer (or sometimes an experienced employee) serves as the course instructor using hands-on training often supported by formal classroom training (BusinessDictionary). It is a tool for transferring knowledge and skills. It is important to note, that OJT is one of the tools for transferring the tacit knowledge of the trainer.
On-the-job training, sometimes called direct instruction, is one of the earliest forms of training. It is a one-to-one training located at the job site, where someone who knows how to do a task shows to another one how to perform it. It is probably the most popular method of training because it requires only a person who knows how to do the task, and the tools the person uses to do the task. It may not be the most effective or the most efficient method at times, but it is normally the easiest to arrange and manage. Because the training takes place on the job, it can be very close to real conditions and no further adjustment is required. It is often inexpensive because no special equipment is needed other than what is normally used on the job. The other side is that OJT takes the trainer and materials out of production for the duration of the training time. In addition, due to safety or other production factors, it is prohibited in some environments or circumstances.
In highly complex environment such as nuclear industry that is continually advancing and improving, the role of OJT is critical. Here are listed some areas where OJT prooved to be most efficient:
- New employees. Even the most skilled new employee must learn specific equipment, standards, rules and local procedures. Normally OJT supports early performance success and employee satisfaction.
- Expanded job requirements, new technology or re-assignment to a new work location. OJT can be an excellent choice to prepare the employee.
- Specified performance gaps. Rotation and refreshers may improve ability.
- Career development. Normally employees will appreciate the opportunity to learn new things from others.
Methods of on-job training
- Demonstration or direct instruction - showing the trainee how to do the job.
- Mentoring - a more intensive method of training that involves a close working relationship between an experienced employee and the trainee.
- Coaching - a focused task oriented and time limited way of training.
- Job rotation - where a trainee is given several jobs in succession, to gain experience of a wide range of activities (e.g. a graduate management trainee might spend periods in several different departments).
- Projects - employees join a project team - which gives them exposure to other parts of the business and allow them to take part in new activities. Often project teams are "multi-disciplinary".
There are two types of on-job training - structured on-job training and unstructured on-job training
Structured on-job training
Structured OJT can be defined as Training provided in the workplace, in a structured way, to achieve specific objectives.
The following are the most essential elements/characteristics of a structured OJT:
- Training topic&methods are planned in advance and often written down. The training may be repeatable and used in future situations with others.
- Goals and objectives for the training programme are defined and written.
- An action plan indicating how and when goals and objectives are to be achieved.
- Responsibilities and resources to implement the action plan are defined.
- An appropriate trainer is selected. Training goals are communicated.
- The supervisor and trainer evaluate progress and how much the employee “can do” as a result of the training. OJT continues until the performance objectives are met.
- When addressing a performance concern, using a structured approach is the primary option in an effort to do everything possible to increase ability and close the gap.
Unstructured on-job training
- Training topic&methods are not planned in advance. Training is rather spontaneous and more informal. The learner may observe, imitate, and/or ‘try’ a skill as demonstrated by an expert worker or supervisor.
- Adequately meets certain work conditions e.g., fix the machine quickly. Trainers spontaneously show, tell, coach.
- Appropriate for easy tasks that are quickly picked up and repeatable by others.
- May result in inconsistent learning outcomes unless the informal trainer “tests” to make sure the learner can repeatedly perform the skill without the active coaching of an expert.
- May prove adequate for minor performance concerns -- when a basic refresher is all that an employee needs to get back on track.
Structured OJT differs from unstructured OJT in making use of a planned process. Carrying out the planned process with a system view helps ensure that training will be efficient and effective.
On-job Training at Nuclear Power Plants
On-the-job training is an integral part of initial and retraining programs for licensed and non-licensed operations personnel of nuclear power plants and is an important element of a systematic approach to training (SAT). The objective of OJT is to train personnel and evaluate their job-related skills and knowledge. Because OJT for operations personnel must be plant related and directly applicable to their job in the control room or in certain plant areas, the success of OJT depends on the practical qualification of the trainers. This is one of the reasons why OJT should be carried out in nuclear power plants mainly by licensed plant engineers or by qualified trainers who themselves should have sufficient practical experience of the content being taught and therefore are able and well accepted to evaluate the capability of the participants.
Interviews are often viewed as a component of OJT and are probably the best way to prepare trainees during initial training for their job positions and for examinations.
Emergency exercises in which all employees of a nuclear power plant are involved demand numerous preparation and post- exercise activities by the emergency prepardness coordinator and his group. Experiences gained during the exercise development and completion, as well as the competence verification at full-scope simulators in this context are very useful. Results of emergency exercises should be transfered into retraining programs of responsible personnel immediately to provide feedback to key plant personnel. If OJT is well prepared and conducted by qualified trainers, all participants will accept evaluation of their practical knowledge and skills, what enhances the safety culture of a nuclear power plant organization significantly.
It is important to note the role of the regulator which requires that every OJT is clearly defined and supported by the appropriate and necessary documentation which makes the process effective, sustainable and consistent. The trainers and evaluators must have suitable training skills. There should be complete independence between the training and evaluation phases. An efficient method of keeping trainee records of progression through the various tasks is also essential.
On-The-Job Training and Qualification of Nuclear Power Plant Personnel. Proceedings of a Specialists' Meeting, SPM-OJT-95, IAEA, 1995