“In-house or outsourced?” is a question at the top of Learning and Development Manager's minds. Representatives of diverse sectors such as FMCG's (fast moving consumer goods), Telecoms and Insurance gave their views:
The major benefit of in-house training is its cost effectiveness, and with Learning and Development budgets shrinking, HR departments are looking for ways to optimise Learning and Development spend. In-house trainers often have multiple responsibilities within their companies, making in-house training a highly efficient solution. Twenty Danone employees, for example, double up as mentors and facilitators.
A second benefit to in-house training is the level of customisation that can be achieved. With their insider knowledge of company systems and products, in-house trainers are able to develop training programmes that are uniquely suited to their company's training needs. Training related to Blue Label Telecoms' products, services and systems, for example, is carried out by senior company technicians.
MTN on the other hand, has made a strategic decision to outsource the technical component of training in the network technologies to the relevant vendor themselves. Since providers such as Ericcson and Huawei fiercely guard their intellectual property, and constantly update their technologies, its difficult for MTN to develop internal training capacity for their systems.
Companies value the specialised knowledge of in-house trainers so greatly, that they're tending to outsource training to ex-employees, thereby creating a hybridised in-house/outsourced training solution. While most of the training at EY (previously Ernst and Young) is handled by internal employees who have an intimate understanding of EY systems, methodology and culture, some training is offered by ex-employees or external consultants using EY materials and intellectual property. Millward Brown outsources international sales training to an Australian ex-employee who has sales experience in the Market Research Industry.
A third benefit of in-house training is that the responsibility of mentoring and training helps grow emerging leadership skills in those employees who are allocated this responsibility - meaning that there are two-way benefits to each mentoring relationship.
In summary, companies favour in-house training for its lower cost, its customisation and its ability to facilitate leadership development.
Fortunately, this trend does not signal the untimely demise of outsourced training. Independent providers are the ideal partners for leadership coaching because candidates can more freely discuss personal challenges or uncomfortable workplace dynamics with them. Small HR Departments don't necessarily have the time to provide candidates with one-on-one support. Neither do they always have the resident expertise or skills required to provide the training that their staff require.
With grateful thanks to the following prominent Training and Development Managers for sharing their valuable knowledge and insights:
• Claire Penberthy, Blue Label Telecoms
• Janet Forsyth, Danone
• Lance Retief, Ernst and Young
• Noeraan Hendricks, Millward Brown
• Frans Kutumela, MTN
• Ricardo Josephs, PPS
Carin Lightstone is the Senior Facilitator, The 2Q Institute.