Professional development

2021 Training Survey

Photo: Missouri Department of Transportation/flickr

Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way many organizations deliver safety training. 

That difference is apparent in the results of the 2021 Training Survey, conducted in March by Safety+Health. Around 57% of the 345 respondents said they are using virtual classroom or webcast training as at least one of their delivery methods. That’s up from 26% of the 473 respondents in the 2020 survey.

Similarly, the percentage of respondents who said they used online or computer-based training increased to 78 from 66 in 2020. 

Instructor-led classroom training still took place with restrictions earlier this year, of course. Some of the respondents reported that their organization had to split their meetings to create smaller groups because of physical distancing protocol. 

More than 2 out of 5 respondents indicated they don’t expect some or all of the changes that resulted from the pandemic to remain permanent. One respondent stated simply, “I am ready to do in-person training.” 

Another wrote, “We will be trying to decrease the amount of virtual safety training we have been offering. Employees are already bombarded with too much online training for all of the requirements of their jobs.”

On the other hand, many respondents acknowledged that online or virtual training, despite some of its limitations, likely will be used more often than before the pandemic. 

The benefits to organizations noted in the responses included lower cost (e.g., savings on travel) and the ability to reach more workers faster. 

Virtual training “also allows more training more often,” one respondent wrote.

Others, however, wondered if “watching a screen” is as productive or as effective as in-person training. One challenge they noted is gauging whether trainees are paying attention or understanding what is being taught.

“(We) will likely use virtual meetings as a secondary option once we are able to meet in person,” one respondent wrote. “In-person meetings tend to encourage more interaction and discussion.”

Another took a philosophical approach on what the future might hold for safety training: “Nothing in the universe is static.”

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