State of the Industry Report: Top 3 Challenges of Training Professionals

The continuing education (CE) and training industry has moved forward from the recession and into a period of prosperity. The next several years look to be strong as well, with an increased demand in professional development training.

CE professionals are adding more training programs, but there is little to no budget increase to accompany the growth. Therefore, these programs must have a better ROI so an association can continue to offer them.

To get a better idea of the issues facing the CE industry and the impact on the production and delivery of training content, we conducted a survey. Ninety training professionals named their biggest challenges.

  1. Program marketing: In order to create more programs without an additional budget, it’s important that each course attract enough learners to earn its keep. Promoting training programs has become increasingly important. CE professionals, many of which don’t have a marketing background, might not feel comfortable in this role.
  1. Content development: In some industries, the same issues continue to arise for professionals. Even if topics are evergreen, though, content is not. Keeping training materials fresh and relevant to learners is an important component to a successful course.
  1. Program development: New courses show that your training program is responding to suggestions from its members. Adding topics, or changing the focus of an existing course, keeps your association relevant and allows learners to continue their professional development through your association.

Are these challenge consistent with your experience? How do you plan to meet these challenges? A few suggestions to get you thinking:

Program marketing: Look for opportunities to cross-promote programs. You could include information about a new program in a printed book or online materials for your association’s most popular course. You might also consider refreshing your content to ensure that your materials and training program are marketable. Promoting a course is easier when you feel proud of the materials your association has produced.

Content development: Consider alternate ways to make content changes more manageable for your association. Print on demand is one option; there will be less excess inventory and waste if you print materials as needed. Outsourcing this process can help save you time and frustration.

Program development: Call on feedback from post-course surveys to determine topics that are most important to learners. Remember that creating brand-new courses takes time and energy. In order to make big projects like program development tenable, delegate day-to-day tasks to other staff and volunteers as much as possible.

To learn more about your colleagues and the challenges they face, read the full report.

 

Training & Development Talk: Finding the Perfect (Print & Fulfillment) Partner

Finding the right industry partner can be tricky. Don’t you wish there were a Match.com or Tinder for meeting your perfect partner to satisfy your business needs and solve difficult challenges?

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy; you have to do a little shopping. Suppose you’re looking for a new print and fulfillment provider to address ongoing order accuracy issues. You put together an RFP and send it out to the masses to collect information and get pricing.

But finding the right industry partner is more than just completing a checklist. The RFP process doesn’t lend itself to learning about a company’s culture and fit, and that means not every potential match that looks good on an RFP will work out.

Even if a provider produces a quality product and meets your budget requirements, they might not be the right fit. If something unexpected comes up that changes the parameters of your project, will they be willing to adapt? Or will a customer service frustration, like lack of responsiveness, leave you feeling like a small fish in a big pond?

Deciding on a future partnership isn’t just swipe left or swipe right and you’re done. Your provider should give you the kind of service and attention that proves you’re special to them. Ask yourself: Is your organization treated like an important customer with specific needs? Do you get individualized attention? When issues arise, are they resolved in a timely fashion, professionally and with the utmost care for your brand?

Relationships are so important that a whole day this month—February 14th—is dedicated to celebrating them. Business partnerships deserve the same kind of consideration. Think about the long-term potential of a relationship with your print and fulfillment vendor. Take the time upfront to make sure it’s the right fit.

So what do you say? Are you ready to go on a first date with Omnipress? Contact us to make the arrangements. We look forward to getting to know your organization better.

5 Key Statistics about Millennials & Training

As of late 2015, Millennials make up about one-third of the American workforce, surpassing both Baby Boomers and Generation X. These young professionals (age 18-34) have never known a world without the internet. What role—if any—do printed educational materials play in their lives? Do they want all digital content all the time?

We wanted to know, so we conducted a survey of 548 Millennials (22-33 years old) about their views on educational materials. For a quick snapshot of the results, take a look at the five key statistics below!

  1. 50% prefer print when reading something they need to learn. Compare that with just 18% who chose digital. Scientific research that suggests reading printed materials leads to better retention, and young professionals also prefer this method.
  2. 59% agree: “It is easier for me to learn from printed materials.” When learners enroll in continuing education courses, they want to come away with new skills to help them advance in their careers. The format used to present new concepts shouldn’t create a barrier. Course participants want to gain new knowledge as quickly and easily as possible, and according to their answers, printed materials make it happen.
  3. 58% agree: “Printed materials are better for reference.” After the coursework is completed, learners will need to look back at the materials for reference. Despite the great strides digital materials have made in creating a better search and reading experience for users, over half of the young professionals we surveyed agreed that printed materials make for better references.
  4. 86% agree: “The world is more connect than ever, but I think there’s still a place for printed materials.” Millennials seem to understand when to use digital sources and printed materials. They see a place for both and use their best judgment for which format is the best choice in different situations. As one participant said, “We can have both; it’s not a war.”
  5. 64% agree: “I will never stop reading printed educational materials.” Think that all young professionals want is online training materials? Not true! Even though they grew up with the internet always available, they understand the value of printed materials for learning and reference.


For more results from the survey, read the full report. Leave a comment to let us know what you think!

5 Ways to Use Digital Content to Market Your Training Programs

Training professionals are always looking for fresh ways to promote their training programs. Using direct mail, email marketing, and social media can help market a new course or draw new students to your existing programs.

Have you considered using online training materials to drum up interest in your continuing education courses? Some ideas to get you started:

  1. Share the course syllabus. Some potential class participants will be motivated to sign up after viewing an overview of the material to be covered.
  2. Offer a free chapter of the course book. Give learners a taste of the content the course will cover to entice them to register.
  3. Post a practice exam. Want to take this tactic to the next level? Show what students can expect to learn by the course’s completion.
  4. Increase your online presence. When you make training materials available online, they are indexed by search engines, which makes it easier for people to find your organization when they search for professional development opportunities.
  5. Cross-promote other training programs. When learners access training materials online, you can use other areas of the website—banner ads, sidebars, pop-ups—to advertise similar courses they might be interested in.

Can you think of other ideas to market your program using online training materials? Leave us a comment!

Is Your Continuing Education Program Ready for Generation Z?

 

Generation Z? What Happened to the Millennials? Those game-changing Gen Y youth who have been the subject of so much research and speculation have now hit the ripe old age of 30-ish. They have begun to settle into careers and families, and although they are the first true digital natives, they have proven to be a lesser disruptor than initially anticipated. (Case in point: read the Millennials & Training whitepaper.) That torch has been passed along to the next generation—Generation Z.

Who is Generation Z?

Although there are some reported variances in the dates that define Generation Z (also known in some circles as iGen—thank you, Steve Jobs), generally they are the children of Gen Xers—born between the mid-to-late 1990’s (roughly 1995) through the 2000’s (roughly 2010).

The eldest (around 20) are soon to be graduating college and hitting the workforce, while the youngest (around 6) are busy creating Google presentations, blogging and documenting prairie burns via iMovie as part of their first-grade curriculum.

They are the largest generation—larger than the Boomers and larger than the Millennials. Today they represent over 25% of the U.S. population. And in just 5 years, they will represent approximately 20% of the workforce.

They are also the most multi-cultural generation. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there has been a 50% increase in the multi-racial youth population since 2000.

They are the product of events and innovations that have completely changed even the world that Millennials knew. This is (potentially) a very different generation.

A Pragmatic, Entrepreneurial, Connected Group Defined by Turmoil and Technology

Generation Z has never known a world without terrorism. They witnessed the fallout from the Great Recession. Unlike the so-called “entitled” Millennials, they understand that success isn’t guaranteed. They are prepared to work for it and to make it their own.

  • They are looking for stability and growth in their careers and actively seek out opportunities to learn, develop and grow.
  • Because their lives were terribly disrupted early on, they aren’t necessarily set on taking a linear path to success.
  • They have a greater entrepreneurial drive than their predecessors and have grown up in a world where they’ve seen (via social media) even their youngest peers have success with self-derived ventures.
  • They are also more financially conservative than their predecessors.

Beyond Tech Savvy

While Millennials were considered to be the first digital natives, Gen Z are mobile natives. Technology isn’t just present in their lives, it is fully integrated into everything they do. It has changed the model for how they interact with the world around them, how they learn and, most importantly, how they process information.

  • Where Gen Y is the generation that shares content, Gen Z is the generation that creates it.
  • They are the ultimate self-educators, particularly when it comes to technology, as they have already seen how quickly it can become obsolete.
  • In the classroom, a Gen Z student uses multiple platforms (including both print and digital) simultaneously to learn and reinforce a single concept and often has the opportunity to choose how they want to learn.
  • Thanks to DVRs, media streaming and 24/7 connectivity anywhere, the concept of appointment-based anything is fading fast.
  • While it appears that their attention spans are getting shorter, early research suggests it may be a reflection of the fact that they have developed the ability to process more information at faster speeds.

Social Media Maturity

For Gen Z, social media is no longer a new fad. It’s an established reality. And while it is the basis of a majority of their social connections, Gen Z is much more “mature” in their use of it than Millennials are.

  • Social connections matter even more to Gen Z more than to Millennials. They want to be culturally connected and have a tremendous fear of missing out.
  • At the same time, they are more conscientious of social media privacy and tend to be drawn to more private forms of social interaction such as Snapchat, Secret and Whisper.

How Gen Z Might Shape Your Training & Education Programs?

Today, many organizations grapple with how to develop new and innovative programs that attract participants and facilitate greater learning. Looking to the future, there is good news. Gen Z will find tremendous value in the growth opportunities that come with increased skills and knowledge… as long as you can adapt to their needs and meet them on their terms. Their current learning preferences coupled with their techno-behaviors may force continuing education professionals to develop unconventional learning delivery models.

Here are 4 things to consider in your next program planning session:

  1. Would it make sense to develop a program delivery model that is even more accessible and self-directed, allowing learners to learn on their terms, when and where it’s convenient for them—any hour, any place? At the same time, might your new program build in opportunities for more virtually-based social connection and collaboration with peers and with instructors, locally and across the globe? Could this social connection continue after the training session is complete, to help reduce any “learning loss” that may normally occur?
  1. Is there an opportunity to develop curricula that allow attendees to co-create content (versus having all materials pre-produced and pre-distributed) as a means to facilitate learning?
  1. How might you incorporate new technologies across multiple platforms to teach and reinforce a particular concept, including print, video, interactive tools, virtual and 4D technology? Could you use a printed piece to introduce a concept, and then offer multiple ways to conduct a more in-depth, hands-on exploration of the concept?
  1. Do you need to take a closer look at your current training materials and course books and determine if there are opportunities to restructure and redesign them to provide shorter blocks of information with more visual cues that support the text?

Although the needs and preferences of Millennials are still extremely relevant—soon they will make up a large majority of the workforce—it won’t be long before all eyes are on Generation Z. How accurately can we predict future preferences based this current profile of a very young generation? It’s too soon to tell for sure. What is certain, however, is that, just as with Millennials, it won’t be long before we’re reevaluating and reconsidering today’s best practices. And it’s never too early to start planning ahead.

2016 State of the Continuing Education Industry [Infographic]

Have you read our 2016 State of the Continuing Education Industry yet? If you haven’t had a chance yet, this infographic will give you a good summary of the results. What do you think? Does your continuing education program face the same issues?

Read the white paper to get the full report. Leave us a comment below! We’d love to hear what you think.2016SOIRCE-Infgraphic

The State of Continuing Education Content: Results of the 2016 Survey of CE Professionals

The outlook for the continuing education (CE) and training market is extremely strong, with both spending and demand expected to increase fairly consistently over the next several years, causing many organizations to increase the number of educational programs they intend to deliver in 2016. At the same time, participant expectations are changing as tech-based learning options become more accessible. What impact will this have on those responsible for developing and implementing educational programs? What challenges will they face in 2016 and beyond?

We conducted an online survey of 90 continuing education and training professionals to understand the current state of CE content, key challenges, and how organizations are preparing for the future.

Insight #1: More than half of respondents are planning to deliver more programs this year, with little to no increase in budget.

Fifty-two percent of those surveyed expected the number of training programs to increase slightly or significantly, while only thirty-two percent anticipated an increase in budget. This will likely present challenges for training professionals, particularly as they also plan to increase the breadth of content formats offered to learners providing a greater blend of print, digital, and mobile, and with it, increased choice for learners.

What other insights did organizations provide about current and future challenges facing CE professionals? Read the full report here, and let us know what you think.

Custom Kitting: Delegation at Its Finest

Managing your association’s continuing education (CE) program is a huge job and it takes an enormous amount of time and energy to pull it off. There are always more tasks to be done than time to do them. It’s tempting to try to do it all, but there simply isn’t enough time to focus on high-value activities like curriculum development and all of the details that come along running a CE program. The best way to conserve your energy for meaningful work is to delegate tasks that are important, but lower-value, in the grand scheme of your duties.

Accept the help you need to get your CE materials and other items to your instructors by working custom kitting into your fulfillment process. Many providers will take on the task of hunting down office supplies as well as course books, instructor manuals, and learning guides. Surely you would rather spend that time doing work that’s more mission-critical and interesting.

A typical kit, sent to the site of a CE course, might include the following:

  • 25 course books
  • 1 instructors manual
  • 25 learning guides
  • 25 exams
  • 25 highlighters
  • 25 packs of sticky notes
  • 25 pencils
  • 1 wall chart for the classroom
  • 25 completion certification

Save time and hassle while giving your instructors a useful, prepackaged kit they can use to move on to the business of teaching. Custom kitting gives you the option to take the smaller tasks off your plate so you can focus on what you do best.

What would your custom kit include? Leave a comment!

 

How to Make Your Training Content Work for Busy People

Modern life is fast-paced. Between work and family obligations, many people have a hard time fitting in professional development, even if they’re motivated to earn certification or pick up a new skill. Those who do manage to register for a course may find it nearly impossible to set aside quality study time. The result can be a disjointed approach to learning: read a little bit whenever you get the chance.

This catch-as-catch-can approach only works best if your continuing education (CE) training materials meet your learners where they live, work, and play. No, you don’t have to deliver your course individually in each person’s living room. But your CE content should be able to travel with them so they can learn whenever and wherever they get a chance to do so.

Many CE professionals mistakenly respond by providing an online-only approach to learning. But you might want to take a minute to reflect first. Many studies suggest that reading the printed page leads to better comprehension and retention than reading on a screen. Appeal to the best of both worlds—modern-day convenience and best practices for long-term learning—by offering your course participants both print and digital materials.

Omnipress helps associations offer CE materials in print and online to facilitate learning anywhere. Contact us to learn more.

No Crystal Ball? Then Try Print on Demand!

Do you ever wonder how meteorologists get away with being wrong so often? Their weather predictions are usually in the ballpark, but sometimes … well, sometimes it’s a very big ballpark. It doesn’t take too long for a forecast of 3-5 inches of snow to become 1-3—or 4-7, for that matter.

Sometimes it feels the same way when you’re predicting print quantities for your association’s continuing education (CE) program. You have a basic idea of how many people will probably sign up for a class that’s in its fifth year, so your guesstimates might be fairly accurate. But what if a new class is unexpectedly breaking registration records? Or a course that has had consistent registration numbers in the past suddenly drops by 20%, for no apparent reason?

Even with the best Doppler radar or finger on the pulse of the state of CE in your industry, no one can predict the future flawlessly. So give yourselves—and meteorologists—a break. The easiest way to manage your printed CE materials without wasting time, money, and resources is to choose print on demand.

Some people are hesitant to try print on demand because of the higher cost per unit, but the truth is that you may save money if your content changes frequently. Say you print 1,000 books, in a single print run, at a per-unit cost of $2.50 ($2,500 total). You sell 600 books ($1,500 worth) before content changes need to be made, rendering the last 400 books useless. That’s $1,000 left on the table! If you have multiple titles with content changes, the waste is even greater.

If the books had been printed on demand, on the other hand, just 600 books would be produced and distributed before the content changed. Even at a slightly higher per-unit cost of $4.00, that comes to $2,400, with no books or money wasted.

Omnipress has helped dozens of associations move to print on demand for their CE materials. Talk to us and we’ll help you get to the number that’s just right for you.

You Can Count On It: Measurement & Management Go Hand-in-Hand

Quick! Do you know how many boxes of tissues you have at home? Are you running low on water softener salt? When was the last time you had your HVAC system serviced?

Why does any of that matter? For the purposes of managing your association’s continuing education (CE) materials, it really doesn’t. But a basic principle of inventory management applies to all of these examples—you can’t manage what you don’t measure.

Whether you need to pick up salt pellets this weekend or next is of little consequence, but what if your count is off for your CE course books? A learner is going to be left out. That leaves a bad taste in her mouth about the training program, and the association in general. Even if the mistake is rectified quickly, your association’s reputation takes a hit.

Trust one provider to produce, house, and inventory your CE materials and you’ll always know where your quantities stand. After all, you recognize how important inventory management is. Quite frankly, though, you’d rather spend your time on other initiatives. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Omnipress can help you manage your CE materials, leaving you free to build and expand your training program. Contact us to learn more.