Tips for Closing Skill Gaps at Your Workplace

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Companies have been dealing with a skill gap for many years–this is well known. And the COVID-19 pandemic only increased that skill gap. That’s because some old jobs were lost, at least temporarily, other new jobs were created, and people where changing their jobs either within the same organization or from one organization to another. And a host of digital and online skills became even more important than they were before COVID.

So that skill gap problem we’ve been talking about for a long time became even more pressing.

In this article, we thought we’d take a look at the skills gap problem, including how to address it, from the perspective of human performance improvement, or HPI. HPI is a performance-improvement methodology that includes but is not limited to training for potential solutions.

We hope you find the article helpful. Please share your own experiences and tips at the bottom in the comments section.


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Tips for Diversity Training at Work: What Works and What Doesn’t

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A lot of companies are rightly concerned about acquiring a more diverse workforce. I’d say that’s just the right thing to do from a societal perspective, but beyond that there’s a lot of research showing that diverse organizations are more innovative and generally perform better.

And likewise, a lot of organizations are working to create a more welcome, accepting, and inclusive environment for their workers. Makes sense, right? And that includes spending a lot of time creating, delivering, and consuming (as learners) well-intended diversity training activities and programs. Also makes sense, right?

The problem is that studies show a lot of this training is ineffective. Which isn’t so good.

But the Learning Guild, and Dr. Jane Bozarth, have come to the rescue with a meaty, 33-page, research-based report titled What Works–and What Doesn’t–in Diversity Training (download a copy for yourself here).

If you’re not familiar with the Learning Guild, their Research Library, or learning researcher Jane Bozarth, put them all on your list of things to learn more about, right there alongside “how to make my diversity training more effective.”

We encourage you to read the entire report, and we’ll summarize a few of the key findings for you below.


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Virtual Classrooms Today: A Report from an Expert

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You don’t need us to tell you that when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, work changed for a lot of us. And workplace training changed a lot because of COVID-19, too.

We’ve been writing about this recurrently over time as the COVID pandemic stretches on. We started with articles on quickly developing elearning courses and quickly creating live online learning, and then we summarized much of that with a webinar on getting training online quickly. After that, we discussed “live online learning,” including webinars and virtual classrooms, with expert Shannon Tipton. More recently we’ve been including some of the tips we’ve learned in our webinars on using online manufacturing training & online maintenance training (and we’ll be doing that again in a December webinar on online safety training).

In addition, we also talked with Dr. Stella Lee about how COVID-19 presented both a need and an opportunity for L&D to “up their game” to help people upskill and reskill for the pandemic economy, and recently we profiled 3 online learning tools and skills made more essential by COVID-19.

We’ve also been doing everything we can to learn more and sharpen our own skills, in particular skills for designing, developing & leading virtual classrooms. In doing so, we’ve identified Cindy Huggett as a leading expert in the field and have read two of her books, both of which we recommend to you: Virtual Training Basics and Virtual Training Tools and Templates. And we’ve been learning from the resources, blog articles, and other materials at her website as well.

All of which brings us to the fact that Cindy Huggett has recently conducted surveys and published the results (an her thoughts) in an article titled The State of Virtual Training 2020. We encourage you to check out the entire article (there’s also an infographic she created that you can download), but we’ll summarize some of the key points here.


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3 Online Learning Tools (and Skills) Made More Essential by COVID-19

Workplace learning has made increasing use of technology for not only years, but for decades now.

And then the COVID-19 pandemic came, making face-to-face, instructor-led training dangerous, potentially fatal, impractical, and less desirable and making various forms of online, remote, or technology-assisted training even more desirable.

We’ve done our best to keep writing about how to deliver training more effectively and safely as a result of COVID-19, We wrote an article about quickly transitioning to elearning and another on quickly taking up live online learning and followed those up with a webinar on the same topics. Then we had a recorded discussion with Shannon Tipton about live online learning, including the use of webinars and virtual classrooms. We’ve talked about it elsewhere, most notably in some webinars on online manufacturing training and online maintenance training. And we’ll be writing about it again in an article with some tips on virtual classrooms via guru Cindy Huggett.

In this article, we’re going to quickly introduce three online learning technologies to consider as your company continues to adapt your own training programs because of COVID. As always, let us know if you’ve got any questions!


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Online Industrial Training Tools & Tech to Know About

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Industrial companies and other organizations have been making increasingly common use of online training and different technologies associated with online training for some time now. And that long-term trend has only increased as a result of COVID-19.

So if you’re a manufacturing or industrial organization, and you’re looking to begin your online training journey or simply add to it, you may be asking yourself what some of the common technologies, tools, and product types are.

And that’s what we’re going to try to help you with now.

In addition to this article, please feel free to listen to our Effective Manufacturing Training that Works webinar and our Selecting Online Manufacturing Training webinar as well as download our Manufacturing Training guide and our Selecting & Using Online Manufacturing Training guide.

And of course, we’ve got a range of online manufacturing training courses, mobile training apps, and learning management systems for manufacturing organizations as well.


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The AIHA’s ‘Focus Four for Health in Construction’ Guidance

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In 2019, the American Industrial Hygienist Association, also known as the AIHA, released a document titled Focus Four for Health: An Initiative to Address Four Major Construction Health Hazards. You can download the AIHA guidance document for yourself at the link we just gave you.

One of the authors of that AIHA guidance document, industrial hygienist Barb Epstien, joined us recently to discuss the construction health hazards, some controls, and the guidance in general. A recording of that discussion is below. We’d like to thank Barb for sharing her time, knowledge, and expertise with us.

The four hazards are:

  • Manual material handling
  • Noise
  • Air contaminants
  • High temperatures

Also, know that the AIHA has more recently created a similar guidance document related to COVID-19 and construction. We’ll be talking with Barb about that too in a similar recorded discussion soon, so please watch for that.

Enjoy the video, thanks again to Barb, and have a great day!

Continue reading to get some related resources and links below.


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Pulp Manufacturing Online Training Guide

Pulp Manufacturing Training Guide

Interested in learning how to select and use online training at your pulp manufacturing facility?

Well, we’ve got just the guide for you. Scroll down to the bottom to get a copy. And don’t forget to check out our engaging, 3D-animated pulp manufacturing online training courses, our industrial-strength learning management system (LMS) that’s been widely tested at pulp-manufacturing facilities like your own, and our additional workplace performance improvement tools.

Of course, if you need some assistance, have questions, or want to set up a demo or preview, just let us know.

Enjoy the free guide and good luck on your online training search! 

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Guide to Pulp Manufacturing Online Training

Download this free guide to learn how to select and use online training in the pulp manufacturing industry. Includes tips on general training, blended learning, online courses and learning management systems, and more.

Download Free  Guide

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How Lean Manufacturing is Part of the HPI Toolkit for Improving Performance at Work

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It can be easy to unnecessarily “silo” different sets of ideas and not immediately recognize that they’re related. We all probably do it at times, which is too bad, because we can often create better outcomes by making connections between those silos and creating a convergence of ideas.

One easy example of this is the not-necessarily-obvious connection between lean manufacturing and human performance improvement (HPI).

We’re going to explain that connection to you in the article below. It’s worth noting this idea certainly isn’t new, and it may seem blindingly obvious to some while perhaps others haven’t thought of it. The idea came to mind for me most recently during the pre-recorded chit-chat immediately before a recorded discussion I recently had with Guy Wallace describing the origins of HPI, so hat-tip to Guy for instigating this article.


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Using Mental Models in Learning & at Work: Talking with Arun Pradhan

Developing helpful mental models is critical for learning and performing effectively at work.

We decided to talk with learning strategist Arun Pradhan to learn more about it and to learn more about his new website,

The video’s immediately below–enjoy it. And we’ve provided links to some helpful resources below the video as well.

As always, thank to Arun.

Remember we’ve got links to more resources below.


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A Brief History of Human Performance Improvement (HPI): Talking with Guy Wallace

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Human Performance Improvement, or HPI, is a method of improving performance and outcomes at organizations that can include workplace training but considers  reasons for problems beyond just knowledge and skill gaps and interventions other than just training.

It’s also sometimes called Human Performance Technology, or HPT.

In this interview, HPI practitioner Guy Wallace gives us an overview of HPI/HPT, tells us about a few of the key ideas and originators (some of whom Guy worked with or new), gives us a few best practices, and talks about two HPI-related projects of his: a series of recorded video discussions with other HPI practitioners and a website collecting HPI resources for people to check out and learn from.

Check out the recorded discussion below and then check below the video for some links to things Guy and I talked about.

We’ve got resources for you below, plus a free downloadable Mager/Pipe Problem-Solving Flowchart, so check that all out.


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Supporting Behavior Change at Work: An Interview with Julie Dirksen

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Not so long ago, we had a discussion with Julie Dirksen about how to help people learn at work, with Julie mixing in stuff from her classic book Design for How People Learn along with additional helpful tips.

In that discussion, there were some times we talked about desired behavior changes and how some times, learning along won’t contribute to that behavior change. That’s usually because the “problem” isn’t an issue of a knowledge or skills gap, but other factors are driving the behavior or lack thereof.

This is something Julie covers in some detail in her book, and it’s also something she’s planning on covering in a lot more detail in an upcoming book (stay tuned for that one). But she was nice enough to join us and talk about it here, and in particular to talk about the COM-B behavior change model, which is also sometimes called the Behavior Change Wheel.

Check out the recorded discussion below, and then scroll down to see a series of related links and resources.

Of course, we appreciate everything Julie’s doing–the great books, the discussions, the sharing of information, etc.–and we thank her. Be sure to buy her Design for How People Learn book and keep an eye out for the upcoming book on supporting behavior change.

Links and resources below!


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New Simulation Course Released: High-Voltage Electrical Switching Simulator

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We’re excited to be able to offer a new supplement to our existing online training courses for electrical transmission & distribution–a new 3D-animated High-Voltage Switching simulation.

Check out the short highlight video below and contact us if you’d like to learn more.

This simulator allows workers to practice this dangerous, high-risk task safely, an excellent use of scenario-based training and simulations.

Before you go, feel free to download our guide to Online Training for the Electrical Transmission & Distribution industry.

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Guide to Electrical Transmission & Distribution Online Training

Download this free guide to learn how to select and use online training in the electrical transmission & distribution industry. Includes tips on general training, blended learning, online courses and learning management systems, and more.

Download Free  Guide

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