Organizations worldwide are facing a crisis. There is a critical shortage of instructors threatening the future of training programs, which is impacting the talent pool in many sectors. Not enough instructors mean not enough people being trained, leaving organizations stuck making impossible decisions – do you cut corners with safety, or reduce your services? And, importantly, where have all the instructors gone?
In recent weeks, you may have noticed some concerning news stories about the airline industry. From Southwest Airlines’ shortage of flight instructors hindering the recruitment of pilots to one Virgin Atlantic flight having to turn around mid-flight after it was found that the pilot’s training did not adhere to the airline’s training protocols, you could easily believe that the airline industry is in serious trouble. Canceled flights, grounded flights, shortages of essential safety staff… it’s not looking good.
However, the reality is that this is just one example of the worldwide war on talent – but this one doesn’t start with HR or the recruiting process. In fact, this is primarily about the war on talented instructors. Below, we’ll take a look at why the lack of experienced trainers is proving so catastrophic across industries such as aviation, healthcare, logistics, consulting, finance and many more and thus, the war on talent starts with your trainers.
The Urgent Need for Upskilling and Reskilling
There are two main talent challenges facing organizations right now:
- Upskilling – plugging the gap left by talent leaving the industry
- Reskilling – adapting quickly to change in the industry, and the world in general
First, let’s look at the upskilling challenge. In industries such as aviation, entire workforces of airline staff were laid off at the start of the pandemic. Now, two years down the line, these airlines need to replace their entire workforces – but many of these employees have left the industry and have new jobs. With this alarming lack of talent, many organizations are looking to other industries to hire staff. But this comes at a cost – namely, the urgent need to upskill inexperienced new employees.
While it often starts in the onboarding period, it goes much further beyond. An airline hiring new cabin crew from the hospitality industry, the retail industry and the education sector must first provide a rigorous onboarding process to give everyone a baseline level of training. However, it doesn’t stop there – they must also continue to train these employees through these first few months. All of this puts additional pressure on the few remaining experienced employees, who must train swathes of new employees while also performing their regular duties.
Secondly, there’s reskilling. Here, we can look to the events industry as an example. Live, in-person events stopped literally overnight in March 2020, but events businesses still needed to stay afloat. This meant completely overhauling their event strategies, often switching to virtual events. For many event professionals, this was completely new territory, and required rapid reskilling to use video production tools, streaming platforms and online-only promotion. For these businesses, securing the time of experienced virtual events professionals was difficult, as everyone in the industry had the same training needs at the same time, with not enough skilled instructors to go around.
Some unlucky organizations now find themselves having to both upskill and reskill their new and existing employees. This means that all of their instructors find themselves pulled in a thousand different directions to address competing training needs across the organization. One instructor can’t be in two places at once, so how do they prioritize the needs of existing employees with the wrong skills for the new normal and the influx of new, inexperienced employees requiring rapid upskilling in their new roles?
Where Are All the Talented Instructors?
Every organization has instructors, whether they are formally identified as such or not. Larger organizations will have a dedicated learning and development department, while smaller organizations may rely on informal knowledge sharing between employees with different specialties.
In many organizations, instructors’ skills just aren’t visible enough. For example, in an organization of 50 people, it’s easy to find out if anyone speaks Spanish and can deliver a course on their area of expertise, but in an organization of 500,000 people, it’s suddenly a lot more complex. So, in the absence of “official” instructors, the experience and expertise of these informal subject matter experts (SMEs) is invaluable, as it can help speed up the knowledge transfer process and get more people trained up faster.
Instructors are also being expected to do more training in less time. Some instructors have to upskill and reskill other employees while also doing their normal work, which is proving impossible to sustain. Training sessions are longer and organizations need more of them, which is putting immense pressure on instructors – there simply aren’t enough to do all the training required of them.
Why Aren’t Employees Receiving the Right Training?
In the case of the Virgin Atlantic pilot who had to ground their plane, they simply didn’t have time to complete their certification. This didn’t mean that they weren’t qualified to fly the plane – in fact, they had 17 years’ experience with the airline – but that they hadn’t had a chance to complete their “final assessment” flight. Pilots are extremely busy, and have limited time for training. And when the number of instructors is limited, it leaves an even narrower window for instructors and learners to meet and complete the necessary training, leaving fewer fully trained, qualified employees to complete their work.
While it may seem as though the aviation industry has been disproportionately affected by this issue, it is actually having an impact across industries. It just happens to be more visible in this industry, with airlines like easyJet having to remove rows of seats from their planes as a result of fewer trained cabin crew members available to fly.
In fact, every single industry has been affected by this shortage of skilled trainers and trained workers. For instance, logistics organizations and courier firms are struggling to attract and sufficiently train workers, leading to worldwide shipping delays. Food manufacturers are struggling to find people to work in their factories, leading to empty shelves in the grocery store, and the loss of stressed, burned-out healthcare employees with no skilled workers to replace them is seeing healthcare waiting lists skyrocket.
What Can Training Organizations Do to Overcome the Instructor Shortage?
The war on talent – and, indeed, the war on talented instructors – isn’t one that can be solved overnight. Large, global organizations can’t magic up new trainers out of nowhere – it takes time to find high-quality instructors with the right knowledge and expertise to train others. But there are tools available to help plug the skills gap internally.
A Training Management System (TMS) such as Training Orchestra is invaluable for organizations needing a better way to source talented instructors for their learners. Training Orchestra’s TMS gives training teams access to a centralized view of every trainer’s skills and traits, whether that’s languages spoken, years of experience or areas of expertise. This helps them better identify the right instructor for each training requirement, and schedule training sessions more quickly and efficiently with no manual effort. This could also include experienced SMEs, who may have the necessary skills to act as trainers when needed.
A TMS will also help organizations better manage their training scheduling, training budget, time and resources. You can see how much you’re spending, your trainer utilization rates and resources utilized in real-time, ensuring you can do more with less and make smarter business decisions around your training program. This is especially useful for increasing the usage of instructors who are doing less training and avoiding burnout for instructors with higher utilization rates.
Training instructors are key assets, and any way to make their lives easier should be embraced. If your training schedulers and instructors are wasting time and energy on laborious, manual admin processes, a TMS will automate much of the admin work, such as finding the right trainer for the job, finding a slot in everyone’s calendars and sending out reminder emails, giving trainers a better way to collaborate and more time to focus on what they do best. Digitalizing the training operation helps you provide your valuable trainers with a better service, and helps them stay organized without requiring extra work.
It could also be worth considering looking at members of your team that have recently left. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) is encouraging retired NHS staff to return to work to help shift the growing backlog of patient waiting lists. Having access to the records of recently retired staff, or those who left an industry within the last few years, could help similar organizations approach these skilled employees to return to the sector – and retirees, who may have decades of experience behind them, could be ideal to return to the workplace as instructors.
What Happens Next in the War on Talented Instructors?
If organizations don’t act fast, they will find themselves in an even bigger predicament. There is already huge competition for skilled trainers, meaning that instructors who aren’t treated well in their current roles will move roles, leaving organizations under even greater pressure.
There is less “ready-made” talent available today, so organizations must shake off the mindset that their hires must already have experience in their industry. Transferable skills must be considered, and organizations must ensure that all employees, both new and current, have time dedicated to upskilling and reskilling.
Also, put simply, organizations need more, better-skilled instructors. That will look different for every organization – it might mean making the lives of existing instructors easier, leveraging the expertise of other internal SMEs or identifying potential talent faster in pools of new hires, leading to accelerated training programs with the intention of training the trainers of the future.
But one thing is for certain – today’s war on talent is on the trainers themselves, and it’s a war that no organization can afford to lose.
Ready to Win the War on Talented Instructors?
Schedule a Training Orchestra demo today to find out how we can help you retain your trainers, identify and schedule the right talent fast and better manage your training scheduling, resources and training budget within your organization.
About Training Orchestra
For over 20 years, Training Orchestra has been helping 600+ organizations worldwide to automate and optimize their ILT and vILT training operations, addressing the complexities often found in: session scheduling, resource management, instructor collaboration, cost tracking and reporting. As a complement to your LMS, LXP and learning technologies, Training Orchestra’s Training Resource Management System can replace all XLS spreadsheets and manual tasks, so you can better manage training as a business.