French classical author François de la Rochefoucauld famously said, “The only thing constant in life is change.” When considering the professional landscape and related technological opportunities, a truer statement could not be made.
As an environmental and occupational health and safety professional, I often find myself measuring social and technological developments against current EHS applications. In doing this, I have become very intrigued as to what technology has brought in the form of advancements that can enrich the training and development experience related to environmental and occupational health and safety. In light of this, I recently set out to research what I believe is the future of EHS training and development.
History of Computer-Based Training
Since the introduction of PowerPoint in the early 1990s, Web-based conferencing (webinars) and webcasting in the late 1990s, online presentations in the early 2000s, and EHS-specific management software of the late 2000s, EHS training delivery has continually progressed. As history has taught us, this progression is not likely to stop, let alone slow.
Future of EHS Training and Development
Over recent years, we have seen a transformation of the work force. The professional landscape has gone from a regional to a global base, making widespread and uniform face-to-face training and development a challenge, a challenge that can only be answered through virtual training. According to Sharat Sharan, president and CEO of ON24, a cloud-based webcasting and virtual communications company, virtual learning solutions have redefined talent development experiences because they meet the needs of both enterprises and employees, providing a professional development experience that is ideal for global workforces.
Virtual Talent Development
Because of the changing demographics of the work force, the need for wide-reaching talent development has been met with virtual talent development suites. Virtual development suites are designed to address the entire life cycle of employee training needs, from employee orientation, to specific job training undertakings, to leadership development. According to a recent ON24 survey of 200 HR professionals from across the United States, 43 percent of respondents said virtual development simplifies administration and implementation, 41 percent said it created progression from onboarding to leadership development, and 39 percent feel that utilizing virtual talent development solutions provide an easy solution for training content development.
While virtual reality is nothing new, the accessibility in which current and continually developing technological advancements have made virtual environments is. This phenomenon has opened a new realm of possibilities. Imagine a Web-based occupational work place possessing various hazards and code violations that can be experienced interactively, and where employees have the chance to identify hazards and confront virtual emergency situations and drill response and management scenarios – without actually having to endure one.
These types of virtual environments can be tailored to fit a wide range of applications and occupational settings and can be very effective in training supervisors to recognize and negotiate workplace safety, health, code compliance and emergency response concerns. This technology not only is available and easily accessible, but it also is affordable (which has historically been the biggest challenge with virtual reality).
History has taught us that those who don’t adjust to change are left behind. This is especially true for organizations that fail to adjust to and embrace technological advancements that offer a superior method to deliver critical needs.