From learning to doing: how on-the-job training programs make a big impact

Discover the difference between on-the-job training and on-the-job training programs, and who benefits from each.

It has long since been held that employee learning has the best outcomes when following the 70:20:10 model. This means that 70% of learning happens while working on the job, 20% from peers and colleagues, and 10% from formal training. With this in mind, on-the-job training programs have become more valuable to employers and staff than ever before.

This is especially true for mobile employees who spend the majority of their time in the field. Learning while doing fits well given the nature of deskless jobs. 

With a shifting employment landscape, having a robust on-the-job training program is essential. An effective program empowers employees and enhances their employability. It enables organizations to build a skilled and agile workforce. Investing in employees’ professional growth through comprehensive on-the-job training increases loyalty, engagement, and productivity. It also helps attract and retain top talent.

What is on-the-job training?

On-the-job training is exactly as it sounds. This is a “learning by doing” training method. Employees receive formal instruction combined with real-life experiences while actively working in their position.

What is an on-the-job training program?

When it comes to developing new skills and advancing your career, on-the-job training programs play a vital role. In this section, you’ll learn the definitions of three key terms related to training: on-the-job training program, job training program, and job skills training program. Understanding the distinctions among these terms will help navigate the training landscape.

Let’s start with the core concept: an on-the-job training program. This type of training is provided by the employer within the work environment. It equips employees with the skills and knowledge used to perform their jobs. On-the-job training programs offer a hands-on approach. Individuals learn while actively engaging in their work responsibilities. These programs are tailored to the organization’s needs.

Now, let’s differentiate between a job training program and an on-the-job training program. Employers solely provide on-the-job training programs. Job training programs can come from various sources. These programs may be offered by employers or by independent organizations. When it’s the latter, individuals may pay to take part in these programs to acquire new job skills. Such external programs often focus on specific industries, professions, or emerging trends. Learners receive specialized training beyond what their current employer offers.

Lastly, let’s explore the concept of a job skills training program. This encompasses both job training programs and on-the-job training programs. In other words, it refers to any training aimed at enhancing job-related competencies. The distinction lies in the source of the training rather than the content itself.

Next, let’s dive deeper into the purpose of on-the-job training programs and the benefits for both employers and employees.

What is the purpose of an on-the-job training program?

The purpose from the employer’s perspective

Regarding on-the-job training programs, employers have distinct goals in mind. Let’s explore three key objectives employers hope to achieve through these training initiatives.

Train new hires to be able to execute their roles 

One of the primary purposes of an on-the-job training program is for employers to ensure that new hires have success in their roles.  By providing comprehensive training, employers equip employees with effective tools. This contributes to the organization’s success from day one. This training increases productivity and instills confidence in new employees.

Upskill or reskill existing employees

Employers know the value of investing in their workforce. They recognize that employees’ skills need to evolve with changing times. On-the-job training programs offer a means to upskill or reskill existing employees. This ensures they stay relevant in their roles and adapt to emerging industry trends. A skilled and agile workforce will develop, positioning the organization for long-term success.

Foster existing talent and promote from within the company

Nurturing and promoting internal talent is a strategic organizational approach. On-the-job training programs serve as a catalyst for identifying high-potential employees. It also prepares them for future leadership positions. By offering opportunities for enhancement and growth within the company, employers retain top performers and foster a culture of internal promotion. This approach promotes employee engagement, loyalty, and a sense of upward mobility. This all leads to a stronger and more motivated workforce.

The purpose from the employee’s perspective

On-the-job training programs offer benefits to employees who want to grow professionally. Here are three main purposes of these programs from the employee’s perspective.

To start a new job or career

Job training programs are ideal for those seeking a career change or entering a new field. These programs allow you to acquire new skills without having to quit your job or go back to school. By doing this, you can increase your chances of securing a job in your desired field.

To improve in their existing role

Employees aiming to excel in their current positions can benefit from on-the-job training programs. They allow you to enhance existing skills, learn new techniques, and stay up-to-date with industry best practices. Request specific training from your employer will display initiative.

To gain new skills for promotions

Ambitious employees seeking career advancement should use on-the-job training programs. Discuss training opportunities with your employer that align with your career goals. By participating in these programs you acquire the knowledge needed to move up. In turn, you may increase your chances of a promotion. 

Understanding the purposes of on-the-job training programs from both the employer’s and employee’s perspectives is key. It sets the stage for exploring the tangible benefits and implementation strategies. Let’s now explore some examples of programs.

What are examples of on-the-job training programs?

There are many approaches to take with on-the-job training. It’s important to know what positions you want to develop and how learning will best take place. This list is your starting point in developing your training program.

Self-instruction training 

These are training and development programs that are independent and self-paced. Self-instruction training can be challenging to deliver when you have a deskless or mobile workforce, because the majority of online training platforms have been designed to be used from a laptop computer. However, using a mobile training platform like TalentCards that has been specifically designed to deliver mobile-first training from your employees’ smartphones is the best solution for making training accessible to your decentralized workforce.


This training method has the new hire working with someone who has mastered the job. The more knowledgeable employee will show how to do the job and allow the new employee to try. Feedback is given on the spot with opportunities to hone skills. Shadowing provides quick information transfer, but its success depends on the quality of teaching.

Co-worker training 

New employees receiving this training are learning from their peers who are already successful at their job. It saves companies money in training costs while having up-to-date perspectives. This method can lead to some dependency on the part of the new hire, so be mindful of the timing. 


Often offered to college students, internships provide on-the-job training. Interns have real-world learning experiences before being independent. Attract rising talent using this recruitment tool.


When an employee is ready for autonomy, a senior staff member will delegate a task to them. While working independently, they can seek support when needed. Delegation is a good morale booster that rewards knowledge and performance.

Refresher training  

Refresher training courses are given to review learning from previous training, or when new information becomes available. Delivering refresher training is a lot easier when you have the proper reinforcement training software available that enables you to deliver content directly to employees’ smartphones. Delivering training in this way makes it easier for employees to access, and avoids interrupting the work day and decreasing productivity. 


This is an often overlooked part of employee training. Maximize your impact during orientation by laying a solid foundation. Your new hire will learn the company’s culture and prepare them for what’s to come. Check out this guide and get your free new hire checklist template.

Job rotation 

Often underused, job rotations have employees do different jobs. They learn the policies and procedures for each. This training method focuses on continued employee education. Some benefits are smoother shift transitions and a more unified staff.

Practice simulations

Practice simulations offer high-value training in a low-stakes way. This is beneficial for new employees and those who need to be upskilled. When conducting this training, remember to make it as authentic as possible and don’t hold back. Practice simulations should be thorough.

Committee assignments 

When you need to solve a more complicated problem, organizing a committee may be helpful. This brings together talented minds who can learn from each other. Together they will work to solve the presented problem. Pay attention to team dynamics here to identify potential leaders among the group.

Job training programs that are in demand today

Job training programs help jump-start your career, getting you into the field and making money quickly. Below are ten of the best training programs worth exploring for jobs in growing fields. 

  1. Certified nursing assistant (CNA)
  2. Dental assistant
  3. Phlebotomist
  4. Emergency medical technician (EMT)
  5. Certified bookkeeper 
  6. Wind turbine technician
  7. Commercial driver
  8. Cosmetologist
  9. Physical therapy aide
  10. Massage therapist

Create training resources that your mobile employees can take anywhere

Deliver learning and development resources that employees can access directly from their smartphones.


What is meant by on-the-job training?

On-the-job training gives an inexperienced person learning opportunities through instruction and practical learning. It helps speed up career growth while employers remain competitive in the labor market.

What are the six types of on-the-job training?
  1. Self-instruction
  2. Shadowing
  3. Co-worker training
  4. Internship
  5. Delegation
  6. Refresher training

Remember: there are plenty more types of training, but these six are a great place to start!

What is the purpose of on-the-job training programs?

The purpose of on-the-job training is to give an inexperienced person the opportunity to learn through instruction and practical learning. This helps the employee accelerate their career growth and employers remain competitive in the labor market.

On-the-job training programs are mutually beneficial

On-the-job training programs have emerged as valuable tools in response to the changing employment landscape. Investing in continuous learning benefits employees and employers. Taking the time to tailor your training program is well worth the effort.

Key takeaways

  • On-the-job training programs are essential for employers to:
    • train new hires 
    • upskill or reskill existing employees
    • identify internal talent for promotions
  • Effective on-the-job training programs enhance employability, loyalty, engagement, and success.
  • On-the-job training programs can take various forms, including self-instruction, co-worker training, shadowing, internships, delegation, and refresher training.
  • In-demand job training programs today, such as certified nursing assistant (CNA), dental assistant, phlebotomist, emergency medical technician, and others, offer opportunities for individuals to jump-start their careers in growing fields.