On-The-Job Training: What It Means and Why It’s Useful.

Written by Laura Caveney

22 March 2023


A complete guide to on the job training in the worplace

scrolling arrow down

On-the-job training is a simple way to offer learning opportunities to your teams.

Not sure what on-the-job training is or if it would be useful to incorporate into your learning and development?

You’re in the right place.

Training should form an essential part of any job.

It allows you to upskill your people and make sure they do their job correctly, and safely.

Employees appreciate it because it makes their job easier, but it also shows you’re willing to invest in their development.

Why is that important?

Keep reading to learn:

  • What on the job training is
  • Who can do on the job training
  • The benefits of on-the-job training
  • Types of on-the-job training

Let’s get started.

What is on-the-job training?

On-the-job training, otherwise known as OTJ training, is simply training that is provided in the workplace usually by your manager or colleagues.

On-the-job training can help you gain knowledge, skills and confidence to do your job well, and safely. It’s often done when a new hire starts to help them onboard.

On-the-job training usually consists of shadowing a colleague or manager as they demonstrate processes, and then carrying out the same tasks yourself under supervision.

Who can do on-the-job training?

Realistically, when you start a new job, chances are you will undergo some kind of on-the-job training. It may be that this is just part of your onboarding experience, and you don’t do any further training of this type after that point.

But on-the-job training isn’t always a one-off.

Everyone is eligible for it, but employees might be specially selected, or they might ask for further training.

For example, maybe an employee is struggling to get to grips with a particular process. They might go to their manager to ask for further on-the-job training to make sure they get it right.

What are the benefits of on-the-job training?

Just like other types of training, on-the-job training is extremely useful. Both for the person learning, their colleagues and the business as a whole.

Better trained employees will perform better which means better business results, smoother collaboration, and more job enjoyment.

When you break down what on-the-job training is and who it’s for, there are some clear advantages:

  1. It’s free
  2. It’s accessible
  3. It’s job and person-specific
  4. It’s flexible
  5. It’s social

When you’re comparing types of learning, it’s easy to think on-the-job training is best given the benefits we listed above.

But remember, while it is a great part of any onboarding process, it can only go so far.

In order to further advance knowledge, you might need to consider investing in more advanced training opportunities.

Types of on-the-job training

There are a few different ways you can carry out on-the-job training.

They usually fall under these four main categories:

  • Structured
  • Unstructured
  • Blended
  • Standalone

Let’s break each one down, one by one:

Structured training

Structured training is designed to allow the employee to move through training materials before beginning their role independently.

An example of structured training would be an apprenticeship, or an onboarding checklist.

This could include scheduled chats with team leads an overview of company policies or safety training.

Often, training like compliance falls under structured training as it’s regulated. That means you need to ensure staff are fully compliant in order to remain accredited.

Unstructured training

An unstructured training approach to on-the-job training has much more flow and is probably a little more personalised too.

It could see an employee shadowing a colleague or sitting in calls to pick up what the job entails day-to-day or to pick up language.

These are usually more effective than structured because of the level of personalisation to your own role.

One good way to deliver unstructured training is to engage in mentorships. These open conversations between more established employees and new hires.

Standalone training

Standalone training is pretty much what is says on the tin. Your employee learns through one type of learning medium, usually practical experience.

This can be particularly useful if a job isn’t highly skilled or the person has previous experience.

This type of training should be used just to refresh knowledge or give an overview of a small task or process.

Blended training

Blended training involves practical experience alongside other mediums like eLearning or classroom learning.

An employee could shadow a colleague while also watching internal webinars to develop their learning.

Blended learning is often the default for jobs in manufacturing, engineering, medicine and banking where processes are highly regulated.

Improve your onboarding experience

Onboarding is often a difficult process to manage, and even more difficult to improve.

The issue HR and L&D managers have is the inability to escape the admin and paperwork that comes with onboarding.

There’s a lot of room for human error and it means that your new hires could end up having a much less enjoyable joining experience.