Focus has increased over last few years for businesses to be able to more strictly cross-examine the ROI of the training and development being offered to their employees. Soft skills training like public speaking, communication skills etc. can be taken as “good to have” instead of vital component, and product training like quality control skills are usually viewed as a box ticking exercise, not always monitored at the workplace to assess value. Approach of the businesses is changing. Businesses indeed recognize the fact that training and development of employees is a vital element of organizational development. That’s why, there is a Training Budget, which needs to be split as per the classes of skills, considered as mandatory, for the employees to work effectively and productively. The key challenge is to assess where to emphasize more – product training/technical training or soft skill training. This article compares the tangible and non-tangible gains obtained from product training versus soft skill training.
Differentiating Between Soft Skills & Product Skills
Soft skills are those personal or personality attributes that form person’s social interactions, eventually leading to enhanced professional relationships and career prospects. On the other hand, product skills or technical skills are specific to certain kinds of tasks and activities related to the specific job position. Soft skills training is applicable to all employees in different measures, while product training varies from employee to employee.
Why Product Training or Soft Skill Training to Train Employees?
Even if the employee is qualified with the professional degree required by the job, he or she might not have experienced a professional atmosphere. In such atmosphere, a lot of times employees are overload or have overtime. Human behavior changes in stressed situation, in particular, if the person is not used to it. In addition, today’s workforce is highly diverse. Employees having versatile background, qualification and demographic circumstances are coming together in the same department/company. If each of these employees portrays his or her culture and practices on their own, it will become impossible to form a long-lasting efficient and productive team. There are some concrete reasons for training workforce both for company product (technical skills) and soft skills required.
Differentiating Between Soft Skills & Product Training
Both product and soft skill training differ in terms of grasping approaches and application methods. Lei Han has identified the three key differences between the two.
- Soft Skill Training
Usually, the soft skill training is outsourced. One of the important causes behind it is unbiased attitude and approach of the trainer and the learner. Soft skills trainings are usually focused, developed on case studies from similar businesses, and are experimental as well. This is one of the best ways to resolve behavioral differences and mental blocks.
The structure of soft skills training is based on grasping techniques instead of thumb rules to manage the situations. Such training is usually conducted in small groups as all people need more attention and query solving time. Soft skills training methods are activity based, participative and involve case solving, group discussion etc. This enables learners to view the same situation and varied solutions from diverse perspectives.
With benefits of soft skill training, come few pitfalls as well. Case studies, for instance, even if taken from real time situations, remain case studies only. Learners might outperform during the training, but may fail to achieve the same results in real life situation. We cannot quantify the soft skills training output; we can only observe. These skills are mainly useful when there are more people involved. For an individual, the product skills are vital for his or her career. Many scientists have been less social; however, they are those people who brought innovations to change the world.
- Product Training
Product training are mostly in-house, given by the internal trainers. Internal trainers usually talk in limits of the business’s policies, financials and strategic frameworks and infrastructure. Learners are less receptive, having an attitude “I already know that”. Occasionally, the product training is also outsourced to external trainers. External trainers bring their experiences from diverse businesses. Same things are done with which the other technologies or methods; like Kaizen/TPM systems are helping which businesses and how, efficiency of the newly added features to the updated version of a technology, for example, what is new in revised version of a quality control management system.
Therefore, product skill training provides an opportunity to learners to learn new methods of doing the same work with higher productivity and efficiency. Actual benefit of this training is that it is consistent as well as refined, based on the number of years of training with a range of participants. Based on the designation and level, the product training can be customized into Beginner, Intermediate and Advance Level.
Some limitations associated with product training include rapidly changing technology, customer requirements, production standards and methods. Every time, the concerned employees in the department or team must be re-trained with the updates.
The employees’ efficiency is always calculated periodically to evaluate internal growth of the business in terms of hike in quality, productivity, output, and decline in faulty products, errors and accidents. This is achieved only if employees are trained with product knowledge, updated technology, and efficient production and development methods. Product training thus has higher impact on accuracy and productivity than soft skills. Nevertheless, soft skills training running in parallel, ensure career growth and advancement and lead the employee to higher level potions sooner.
Copyright 2019 Bryant Nielson, All Rights Reserved.
 Han, L. (n.d.). Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills – Difference and Importance. Retrieved from www.bemycareercoach.com: https://bemycareercoach.com/softskills/
 Henville, N. (2012, September). Hard vs Soft skills training. Retrieved from www.berkshire.co.uk: https://www.trainingjournal.com/articles/feature/hard-vs-softskills-training