02 Apr Boost Talent Development With Internal Certificate Programs
An internal certificate program can help organizations fill skills gaps and develop talent strategically.
Is your staff properly trained to achieve the organization’s business goals? Is there a learning and development gap? If so, an internal certificate program may meet your needs.
Companies that create internal certificate programs benefit from a customized learning event designed to directly address your organization’s unique needs. It also could be a wise investment.
An internal certificate program can be beneficial to an organization because it:
- enhances employees’ ability to fulfill client’s needs
- provides the opportunity to benchmark performance
- helps the organization strategically develop talent
- creates career advancement opportunities for employees
- builds confidence and ownership in employees.
What it is
A certificate program is a type of credential used to develop an individual’s knowledge, skills, and abilities. A certificate program consists of two core components: a learning event and assessment.
For example, perhaps an organization expects a staff member to bring consulting skills to the organization, or that he picks up some experience with consulting via trial and error. If an organization needs to equip all staff members with basic consultative skills to work with clients, creating an internal consulting skills certificate program would provide the organization with the ability to strategically link learning, performance, and results.
A certificate program would allow the organization to strengthen not only this individual’s performance but the overall consistency and quality of service to the customer. In addition, leading this effort internally enables you to ensure the framework, content, and examples speak directly to your audience.
There are four steps for developing an internal certificate program.
- Determine your organization’s need and capabilities for creating a certificate program.
- Design, develop, and implement the program.
- Create the program evaluation.
- Plan for program maintenance.
Why it works
Let’s build on the example of the organization and consulting skills certificate program above. Creating an internal certificate program works for two main reasons. First, it provides an organization with the ability to strategically and thoughtfully create the necessary learning event to closely connect to the organization’s specific learning needs. Second, it also is a valuable way to invest in your staff and properly guide and support their development.
To determine whether an internal certificate program might be right for your organization, consider the following criteria. An internal certificate program is often right when an organization needs to:
- develop the same new knowledge, skills, or abilities in a relatively large group of employees
- strengthen the same existing knowledge, skills, or abilities in a relatively large group of employees
- guide employees to master an area of expertise that your organization knows and does uniquely or best
- achieve a specific set of learning objectives that your organization knows and does uniquely or best
- incorporate tailored organizational feedback and coaching in the learning event or learning process.
As you might imagine, one of the most important elements in an effort such as developing an internal certificate program is determining the organization’s needs.
Defining the goal and direction are necessary. It is important to understand the role of the program in the organization, and how it will help the organization achieve business and performance goals.
At this stage, it is beneficial to consult the industry and organization’s body of knowledge, and use this as a benchmark and reference for the goal and objective of your program. Your industry most likely has outlined the foundational competencies or areas of expertise necessary for professionals in your field.
Next, you’ll want to align all of the right stakeholders. Take a look at the recommended key players: organizational or department leadership, content representative, training department representative, information technology department, and project lead. Don’t underestimate the need to develop a close and collaborative relationship with your IT team, especially considering all of the online and mobile learning development in the works.
You’ll also want to calculate initial costs. There is long list of questions you should ask, including these more unique questions:
- What are the costs of using an internal versus external certificate program?
- What is the projected number of participants and does this justify the costs?
- Does the organization have the resources (time, money, talent, and so forth) to create and maintain a certificate program?
- Can the training department handle all of the maintenance work after the program?
- What is the incentive for individuals to participate in the certificate program?
Once this essential foundation is built, your organization is ready to move ahead.
Besides some of the organizational and staff member benefits already mentioned, an organization might particularly appreciate the potential cost savings and return-on-investment of developing an internal certificate program.
Suppose your organization currently outsources a particular task that requires a unique knowledge or skill, and your organization spends on average $24,000 annually for this service. Imagine creating a four-hour certificate program for your employees that would help them develop this knowledge or skill. If you use an estimated or standard time-and-cost equation for program development, creating a four-hour certificate program would require a $12,000 investment.
It is easy to see that this initial investment has the potential to save your organization nearly 50 percent in the first year alone. (Note: this example considers only the criteria of costs; it’s recommended that you conduct a complete analysis. You’ll also need to consider your employees’ primary responsibilities and workloads, and the frequency and importance of applying this specific knowledge or skill.)