As someone responsible for providing training for Canada’s public service, you’re likely already aware of the ambitious new expectations set out in Beyond2020. In addition to promoting greater inclusion, the new framework calls for government personnel to embrace an agile approach to their work and to make full use of technology to improve their service to the public.
For training professionals, the key challenge of Beyond2020 is to “make learning a fundamental part of your job.” This statement is a vital acknowledgement of the fact that in a digital economy, it’s no longer possible for anyone to completely master any job. The rapid, non-stop evolution of technology will make all of us lifelong learners if we wish to stay competent and relevant. Even now, many government departments require employees to participate in training or earn certifications before allowing them anywhere near technologies like Oracle, SAP, IBM and Cisco.
This heightened focus on training has been driven in part by changes to the technologies themselves. In the bygone days of the on-premise data center, purchasers generally defaulted to the least expensive solutions in hardware and software. But with the rise of cloud services, the government is wisely employing more of a mix-and-match strategy, investing in the cloud technologies that are most appropriate for the job. That investment means there’s been an increase in government demand for cloud training (AWS in particular).
The good news is that the government fully supports your quest to keep employees knowledgeable, resilient and confident in their work. But, as you know, you’re still faced with challenges when it comes to gaining the most value out of a limited training budget. Here are eight tips for making your public service training dollar go further.
1. Use It or Lose It
The Canadian government fiscal year ends on March 31, and any budget not spent by then is lost forever. Moreover, leaving money on the table might cause the powers that be to conclude that you’ll be OK with a smaller budget next year. To keep from losing that funding, try to plan out your training year well in advance. A training provider with government experience will be more than happy to help.
2. Avoid the Rush
Though everyone knows about the significance of March 31, many people wait until mid-March to do something about it. At that late date, classes are often full, and your training rep is less able to give you the attention you need and deserve. Plus, you’re faced with the stress of rushing to match groups and individuals with whatever training is still available. A better approach is to review your training needs as soon as you’re back from the holiday break in January. That way, you’ll have a full three months to plan the most cost-efficient way to deliver your training.
3. Look for a Vendor With a Standing Offer in Place
You have enough to do without worrying about receiving quotes from multiple vendors. Simplify your task by choosing a training provider with a standing offer in place, meaning that it has pre-negotiated discounts for all government agencies. This approach allows you and your teams to book training quickly and easily.
4. When in Doubt, Book Self-paced, Individual Training
Sooner or later, you’ll find yourself in a situation where learners’ schedules simply won’t allow for the training you’d envisioned. Fear not: The best training providers offer quality instruction that employees can take online when their schedules permit.
5. Let Your Provider Help You Fill Your Classes
Here’s a situation you’ve probably faced more than once: There’s a class that a team needs to take, but there aren’t enough people on the team to satisfy the minimum attendance requirements. Once again, a quality provider will help you by mixing and matching students from other departments to ensure your course takes place as planned.
6. Look for Flexible Payment Terms
Reputable training providers understand that working with government agencies means that they will be paid after delivering the service. In fact, the most experienced providers can help you navigate your own procurement process to make things run more smoothly.
7. Look for Budget-friendly Training Formats
In an ideal world, you’d have the budget to send learners for in-person training anywhere in the country. In the real world of government budgets, in-person training is not always possible. Fortunately, the best training providers offer quality instruction in a range of cost-saving formats. In addition to the option of online, self-paced courses, learners now often have the option of remotely attending live classes that offer full audio and video interactivity.
8. Look for Flexible Scheduling
Time is never on anyone’s side. Most vendors require four to eight weeks’ lead time for a course, but a good provider can often accommodate you with less notice. Find out whether your provider can deliver a class that meshes with your team’s schedule. You might find that private group training is actually the most cost-efficient way to upgrade your team’s skills.
It’s an exciting time to be involved in training for Canada’s public service. There’s a need for knowledge across every level of government, and every level is looking for smart ways to deliver it. Ask your training provider for guidance in making this learning happen. The best ones will be ready and eager to help.