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Maximising training effectiveness (Special emphasis on public sector training in Sri Lanka



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  • 1. MAXIMIZING TRAINING EFFECTIVENESS WITH PUBLIC EMPLOYEES WHO ARE ADULT LEARNERS [Special emphasis on public sector training in Sri Lanka]IntroductionAdults are self motivated to learn and are capable of lifelong learning. Globalization andthe rapid change in technology require human beings to learn throughout their lives forsurvival. Therefore, lifelong learning is inevitable for all and can be considered as a basichuman activity in the complex knowledge society. The adult population has nowincreased in proportion of the total population due to increased longevity and decliningbirthrates. Adults play many roles in the society such as spouse, parent, and employee inaddition to that of learner. Adults should engage in jobs to fulfill their needs. Althoughadults have certain knowledge, skills and experiences to carry out their jobs, they shouldbe given training after assessing their training needs from time to time or whenevernecessary to improve their competencies. A large number of public sector trainingorganizations provide different kinds of training for public employees who are adultlearners. Training provided by these organizations may be either short term or long termand sometimes, may be either workshops or seminars arranged for one or more than oneday. In most occasions, employees are selected for training to be obtained from the localas well as foreign training organizations without carrying out proper training needanalysis. Therefore, the final results may be zero and no benefits to the organizationexcept wasting public fund. Public employees are adult learners who need learning to berelevant to their lives and relate learning of the topic to their life experiences. They alsoneed to be actively involved in the learning throughout their lives for survival. Therefore,strategies and techniques have to be developed to work with the public employees whoare adult learners, to achieve the desired objectives.ObjectivesThe objective of this paper is to formulate strategies and techniques to maximize publicsector training effectiveness with public employees who are adult learners.ThemeThe theme of this paper focuses on maximizing public sector training effectiveness byformulating strategies and techniques. Public employees are adults with certain level ofknowledge, skills and attitudes to perform their tasks. They need further training toimprove their competency in their work place environment. They are self motivated tolearn continuously because of fulfillment of their different kinds of needs. Therefore,lifelong learning is inevitable and should be induced further by providing training.Basically, all training programmes should be designed for them to induce continuous andlifelong learning for individual and organizational development.K.T.PRABA Page 1
  • 2. In Sri Lanka, there is large number of employees working in the public sector. Most ofthem are attached to the national / provincial ministries and departments. Nowadays,public sector training institutes have been established in the provincial as well as nationallevels to train those public employees. Several training programmes are organized fornew recruits as well as current employees to enhance their competencies every year. SriLanka Institute of Development Administration (SLIDA) is the premier public sectortraining organization for the development of knowledge and improvement of managerialskills in public administration. A colossal sum of public fund is allocated by theGovernment for training and development every year. As the line ministries anddepartments have not followed rational criteria to select employees for training, it wouldbe impossible to reap the benefits from the training programmes. Therefore, it isnecessary for the public sector organizations to set strategies and techniques to maximizetraining effectiveness. Some major strategies and techniques have been identified tomanage the training effectiveness with public employees who are adult learners. Thesestrategies and techniques have been set out based on the facts / data obtained from thesenior administrators in the public service by accepting the basic principles of adultlearning.Literature Survey“Training is a planned process to modify attitude, knowledge, skill or behavior throughlearning experience to achieve effective performance in an activity or range of activities.Its purpose, in the work situation, is to develop the abilities of the individual and tosatisfy the current and future manpower needs of the organization”. – British ManpowerServices Commission: 1981.Training comprises the following three major components: 1. Planning 2. Designing and 3. Evaluation1. PlanningPlanning is the first and foremost function of establishing the sequence and relationshipsof a series of operations prior to commencing work. This includes the followingactivities: • Setting strategic directions • Assessing training needs • Developing training strategies • Preparing training policies and procedures • Identifying resources • Preparing budget • Preparing training calendarK.T.PRABA Page 2
  • 3. 2. DesigningDesigning is the second major component of training which includes the followingactivities: • Identifying training opportunities for active participant learning • Setting training priorities • Preparing objectives for each programme • Preparing checklists • Pretesting and review • Implementing the training programme • Communicating training information to all employees3. EvaluationHamblin (1994) defines Evaluation as “any attempt to obtain information (feedback) onthe effects of a training programme, and to assess the value of the training in the light ofthat information”. Evaluation of training answers the following three questions; 1. Did the conducted training programme yield results? 2. Can the investment on training be justified in terms of the outcome of the training? 3. How can the future program be improved?Public employees are adult learners. They learn best when they are in a supportiveenvironment. In order to maximize training effectiveness, training SWOT analysis shouldbe carried out to set the strategic direction of a training programme. Setting strategicdirection means the assessment of current competency of human resources andcomparing it with the desired competency levels based on the strategic business plan ofthe organization to identify gaps in competency. A training SWOT analysis will showwhat specific skills and competencies needs to be developed for employees in line withthe business strategy of the organization. This will facilitate in efficient and effective goalattainment of the organization and yield higher return on training investment for theorganization.Issues identifiedIn the public service, all Heads of Departments and trainers are expected to be able tocarry out training SWOT analysis and training need assessment to prepare strategies andtechniques for maximizing training effectiveness with public employees. But, in realitythey fail to do so. Therefore, there are no remarkable improvements in most of the trainedpublic employees’ knowledge, skills and attitudes. This would result in wasting time andpublic fund allocated for employees training and development.K.T.PRABA Page 3
  • 4. Some of the important strategies and techniques are recommended to maximize thepublic sector training effectiveness.Recommended Strategies and TechniquesIn order to address the issue identified, the following strategies and techniques can beused by the public sector trainers to maximize training effectiveness with public employees whoare the adult learners.Strategy1. Emphasize personal benefits of trainingPublic employees are adult learners who need learning to be relevant to their lives andrelate learning of the topic to their life experiences. They need to be actively involved inthe learning throughout their lives for survival and are ready to learn when they assumenew role.Techniques: • Ask the participants to identify personal benefits derived from training • Ask them to develop their own personal goals for the training • Encourage them to write down specific actions they will carry out after trainingStrategy2. Create a supportive environmentAdults are willing to move from dependency to self directedness. Democraticenvironment should be created for adult learners to develop their competencies in thetraining / learning processes.Techniques: • Always be courteous and patient • Free the learners from bonds • Encourage co-operative activities among learners • Encourage them to support each other in learning activities • Develop team sprit among them • Listen to each person’s questions and answer them clearly • Ensure that the physical space is as comfortable as possible.Strategy3. Use participatory training approachesParticipatory training approaches are far ahead of formal training approaches in makingbehavioural changes in adults. Participatory training is not only trainee-friendly but alsoflexible, result oriented and include trainee perspectives. It includes needs basedapproach, trainee oriented approach, problem oriented approach and job orientedapproach.K.T.PRABA Page 4
  • 5. Techniques: • Design student-centered training curriculum • Limit formal lecture method • Encourage participation of learners to solve problems • Allow them to share experiences • Focus on their skills, capacities, talents, and abilities. • Use question techniquesStrategy4. Use a variety of teaching methodsBy nature, and from the standpoint of adult learners, lecture is a boring teaching method.To engage all learners, it is best to vary the methods in which information iscommunicated.Techniques: • Group discussion • Role- play • Case study • Debate • Stage Performance Method • Symposium • Field trip • Multi-Media Package • Movie • BrainstormingStrategy5. Set the mindset of the traineesSetting the mindset of trainees for the session is more important than setting the physicalenvironment for the session (Agochiya, 2002).Techniques: • Realize the attitude and behavior of learners • Not to disturb their line of thinking and attitude • Let them realize what they know and what they don’t know • Provide necessary facilities for learningK.T.PRABA Page 5
  • 6. Strategy6. Meet trainee’s individual learning needsEffective trainers never forget they have a group of individual learners with varying abilities,experiences, and motivation.Techniques: • Understand the complexity of the adults’ life • Not to make the training programme an additional burden to adult trainees • Consider each trainees capabilities and interests • Encourage individual creativity and initiative • Pay attention to individual communicationStrategy7. Provide structured learning opportunitiesSince the adult learners are having numerous problems (personal, family and official), itis very difficult to change their behavior by training in their work environment.Therefore, structured learning opportunities should be ensured by getting them awayfrom their usual setting.Techniques: • Off the job training • Residential workshops • Practical sessions in different workplaces • Field tripsStrategy8. Provide immediate feedback on practiceTraining is a two way communication process. Providing timely corrective feedback leads tosuccessful learning and mastery of content and skillsTechniques: • Self feedback • Peer feedback • Trainer feedbackStrategy9. Encourage, Appreciate and commend learnersEncouragements, appreciations and commendations are the low-cost training tactics that yield bestresults.K.T.PRABA Page 6
  • 7. Techniques: • Use enthusiastic words among learners in training sessions • Abstain from expressing meaningless words in training sessions • Appreciate their positive activities • Encourage participatory learning • Commend their achievements / resultsConclusionMost of the public employees are adults. They have special characteristics in nature. They are selfmotivated to learn for their survival and have different objectives. They have to be given training toimprove their knowledge, skills and attitudes towards the achievement of personal as well asorganizational goals. In the context of public service, performance of the public employees should bedeveloped by training. Planning, designing and evaluation are the three major components of training.Each component includes many important activities which are listed in the literature survey clearly.Public sector training programmes would be successful if those activities must be carried out tactfullywith a scheduled time frame. The strategies and techniques set out here should be followed by the publicsector training institutes while on training activities to maximize training effectiveness with publicemployees who are the adult learners.References: 1. Human Resources Development (Theory & Practice) – Tapomoy Deb. 2. Participatory Training for Development – I.Ranasinghe Perera.K.T.PRABA Page 7