We all know that the economy is not helping companies function at full speed. We also know that job security is a thing of the past and the only thing that can make us feel secure is our ability to learn.

We all remember the time when executives doing business in foreign markets and in contact with clients who didn't speak English well were so eager to learn and master a foreign language regardless of the time, money and effort that usually took them to accomplish it. I personally know many investment-banking employees that signed up for 10 proficiency levels (80 lessons each) with prestigious language schools. Employees didn't mind taking Spanish lessons for 2 or more years in addition to their school years learning Spanish as a foreign language.

What was the exact cost involved in learning the target language?
According to the premium prices that these language schools were charging to companies for their services the answer is a small fortuneE $38 per lesson multiply by 80 lessons per level = $3,040 plus educational materials (books and tapes) $150 then $3,040 + $150 = 3,190. Students took approximately three 45-minute lessons each session three times a week. So 3 x 3 x 4 = 36 lessons per month in the best-case scenario due to the fact that some students attended classes only twice a week.
Let's summarize this: 80 lessons ¸ 36 lessons per month = 2.2 months per level. In conclusion if an employee attended classes 3 times a week in a period of 6 months was able to finish level I, II and III and achieved a Limited Working Proficiency Level. Of course that during the training period many executives cancelled lessons and therefore didn't finish level III in a year period. In conclusion companies were billed for thousand of hours without considering the lost of productivity time due to the fact that employees will preferably attend classes during working hours. It isn't hard to do the math and realize that the cost of training employees was very high and often results didn't justify ROI. (Return on Investment) Today, you can reach a Working Proficiency Level in Spanish in 10 weeks, taking only 30 lessons if you find the right language provider.

What are companies doing in today's economy?
Now, we live in a different time, companies are very frugal with their training dollars and in some cases they will prefer to do Lip ServiceE(Just talk about doing something without really doing it) or what it is known as Window DressingE(Conduct a quick workshop and give employees something to read) rather that conducting real employee development. According to James E., a training and development manager at a prestigious investment bank, his company has trimmed the training budget to almost zero and he can hardly develop any kind of training for more than 9,000 employees. He said, training isn't a priority for the company at this time, survival it isE In other companies the conditions are very restrictive when it comes to authorizing any training. The company will allow key employees to take language training only if it is extremely important for that employee to know the target language and besides the budget cannot exceed $800 and employees are encouragedEto take classes after working hours.

What benefits did we inherit from the past?
My favorite concept is training, anywhere, anytimeE which in simple English means, train yourself at home, whenever you feel likeE Companies are making use of their past investments in equipment and courses content in the time when web-based-training promised to be the answer to doing more with lessE For HR employees involved in the creation of this new technology, the money, time and effort required to make it work didn't justify its functionality. However, they also remember the time when 2 thirds of the training budget were used by HR professionals to test any program available thus becoming themselves the experts in any given subject matter and promising that this will benefit the training and development efforts of their respective company as a whole.
The fact that companies don't value training initiatives in today's economy doesn't necessarily mean that companies don't trust their organization and development instincts, they do, the real reasoning behind keeping training and development strategies at the bottom of their priorities is that they now understand what happened to their organizations when the training budget was too big and the expectations too low.
What solutions are currently using learning organizations?
We all know that technology is not the only answer to employee training and development, neither is conducting training that is generic in nature and somehow relevant to the true needs, requirements, objectives and expectations of the company and its workforce.

So we have to go back to the fundamentals but this time, we better do it right! Some companies believe that buying one size fits all training programs from reputable training providers and delivering training through the internet or intranet will help them develop their employees in the most timely and cost-effective way. Former HR professionals (yes, the same people that expended thousand of corporate training dollars in the past developing themselves to become subject matter experts) have started their own consulting companies with some degree of success using their inside knowledge and strong relationship building abilities.

A lot of these consulting companies are becoming the new leaders in the field of workplace learning applications, in other words they are doing a tremendous amount of work convincing decision makers to allocate more training dollars to their systematic training approach that integrates the best training topics with accelerated techniquesE(give employees a good reason for learning something and they will learn it real fast). Of course that the training delivery can be done in workshops or using Internet technology.

In reality not too many people know how to accelerate training and development, simply because they don't understand the concept. A subject matter expert is an individual that has extensive personal and professional training in one or more areas of expertise, this implies years of proven experience, capitalization of knowledge and total understanding and application of the subject matter. So we can't expect anyone who has taken a series of seminars or obtained training certifications to be a subject matter expert. (Tips and tricks don't make the grade when it comes to training with effectiveness)

The other part is that a true subject matter expert has sufficient knowledge and experience on his/her area of expertise and is capable of simplifying concepts and applications thus facilitating learning.

What is Accelerated Learning?
This training method or techniqueEis in reality a practical training and development tool when applied ethically and professionally. In order to work with effectiveness rather that effectively witch isn't the same when companies are measuring training outcomes.

What are the benefits of using Accelerated Learning as a training solution?
The benefits are tangible as long as this training approach is implemented using the following steps:

1)Condition employees to learn new skills and competencies
Make them aware of their strengths and weaknesses as well as their training needs, requirements, objectives and expectations in order to become employees with unlimited potential.

2)Modify or shape their behaviors
Evaluate employeesEperception of reality and help them to appreciate diversity, training and development initiatives and the value of flexibility, adaptability and accountability.

3)Eliminate any misconceptions about the purpose and the expectations of the training
Training participantsEmotivation for undergoing training is always negative or indifferent because they don't truly understand the purpose of the training and the benefits expected.

4)Assess and analyze the urgent needs of the organization's
departments and the workforce
Approach this in a similar manner as building working teams; all things considered training participants will be sharing a learning experience. They will share their knowledge and learn from each other. This will help you to develop a training program that is relevant and consistent to their personal and professional development within the organization.

5)Manage training development and delivery with overall effectiveness
Deliver face-to-face training with subject matter experts who are professional knowledge facilitators. Training participants appreciate when relevant knowledge, skills and competencies are given to them in the most simplistic manner. (Focus on concepts and practical applications)

6)Evaluating training effectiveness and ROI
Time and practice are required to achieve proficiency; therefore, participants should be monitored in the transfer of newly acquired skills and competencies into their main responsibilities. To reinforce learning provide them with carefully planned manuals that contain the mechanics of effecting changes.

Author's Bio: 

Nelson Leon is a Director of Organization and Employee Development at Communication Core in New York. He has a strong background in educational, clinical and organizational psychology. He is currently writing a book about simplifying the employee development process. He is also a subject matter expert in effective business communication, leadership development, diversity management and intercultural skills.Contact info: lnelson@mlc.com or by visiting www.communicationcore.com