Then vs. Now – Training Solutions 50 Years in the Making


It was fifty years ago that Muhammad Ali shocked the world when he defeated Sonny Liston in one of boxing’s greatest upsets. Looking back at how training techniques have evolved and improved since 1965, we can admire the basic training strategies both men used to get into and stay in high performance condition. While some of the core training methods used back then are still in use today, in most instances training as an industry and practice have evolved and improved dramatically. This is especially true outside the ring and inside corporations, where organizations have embraced new technologies and strategies to meet the training and development needs of their increasingly diverse, dispersed and demanding workforce.

As we look back at workforce training improvements over the past fifty years, we examine four training solutions that have incorporated new technologies and strategies to align with evolving workforce needs:

Training modules that come to you

For most organizations, over are the days of transporting an entire employee base to off-site locations in order to conduct training sessions. While in-person, instructor led training still has its place, organizations have shifted more and more programs to the virtual environment, so on premise employees and remote learners alike can complete training requirements at their individual pace and, for the most part, at their convenience with 24/7 access.


The growth of eLearning has been expanding at a rapid rate. In fact, eLearning made up nearly 50 percent of the training delivery methods used in 2014, with 44 percent of those methods involving virtual classroom and online training.

Social learning moves from offline to online

The concept of social connection has transformed tremendously in the last fifty years, most dramatically from 1989 on, primarily due to the birth of the Internet. Social learning has always included collaborative efforts between learners and instructors to share ideas and feedback, but now – instead of round table discussions and drawers of archived files as reference materials– we have taken most offline social learning and turned it digital. Learners and instructors utilize online forums and communities, digital workspaces and social media to learn on-demand, with other employees, without the need to be headquartered in the same location.


It makes sense that seven out of the top ten learning tools today are social media tools – learners seek out information the moment they need it, so utilizing social media is inherently natural for on-demand information discovery and discussion.

Simulation training prevents on-the-job mistakes

Particularly when dealing with high consequence environments, organizations look to simulation training to prepare for high risk events and situations. Whether you work in financial services, healthcare, oil and gas, government or any organization where risk is involved and the stakes are high; simulation training is a top choice for effective workforce development and preparedness. High Consequence Training used to be limited to textbooks and classrooms, with hands on experience passed down from worker to worker. With new simulation training techniques, knowledge transfer is managed and measured in a much more effective way. We have improved training so much so, that learners now gain both the intellectual and technical prowess, as well as the emotional intelligence needed to handle high stakes situations; something that wasn’t do-able fifty years ago.


We can now accurately create real world scenarios  and measure outcomes, in a training environment,  to teach the emotional, physical and technical skills needed for success while reducing on-the-job errors, lowering risk and costs, and increasing safety and compliance.

Augmented reality ensures more accurate preparedness

Augmented Reality (AR) is a term commonly heard since the 1990s, but its roots actually date back fifty plus years. The first instances of augmented reality technology found within the electric engineering industry in the 1960s were impractical, involving heavy and expensive head-mounted displays with many graphical limitations, but its evolution through the years has led to increased usage and added convenience with smaller cameras, sensors, recording devices and visual displays that can be accessed via desktop, laptop, smartphone or tablet. AR adds layers of digital information – videos, photos, sounds – directly on top of items in the physical world around us to entrench the learner in the experience.


Like simulation training, AR is ideal for training in high consequence environments because there is no negative outcome or danger involved in mistakes made while learners interact with real elements through virtual aids. It also provides a high rate of learner retention meaning the likelihood for mistakes in the field or on the job will be reduced or eliminated.

Where will we be fifty years from now? Time will tell, but it is highly likely that technology will continue to improve and evolve to meet the growing demands of workforce training. The strategies you put in place to capitalize on those technologies today will help your organization remain competitive and help your employees meet any challenge the next time they step in the ring. How has your organization shifted its workforce development strategies to capitalize on today’s technology advancements and best practices? Share with us in a Tweet or a comment on LinkedIn.