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The History and Development of Customized Corporate Training

Corporate training can be defined as a system of activities designed to educate employees. It has a critical role to play in the overall strategic initiatives of an organization. How corporate training is used has been ever-changing and evolving to meet the changing needs of businesses. The design of training activities and how they should be integrated into your work culture will vary depending on overall needs and organizational goals.

Throughout this article we will discuss the history of custom training, and will break down some of the many ways you can go about implementing a customized corporate training program into your workplace.

History of Customized Corporate Training

Before the 1800s most training activities and workplace learning took the form of apprenticeships and experience gained on the job. This commonly took place in the trade realm working for an employer who was aptly skilled in whatever service you were looking to get into. After an agreed-upon amount of time and demonstration of competency in the field the apprentice would either strike out on their own or could even be offered a full-time position within the company.

Most training activities and workplace learning took the form of apprenticeships and experience gained on the job.

By 1872 the process of employee development became more refined, and the first employee training classroom was organized. Printing press manufacturer Hoe and Company developed a factory school to train their printing press machinists onsite. Nearly three decades later, in 1910, Dr. J.L. Moreno introduced the first known role-playing learning experience that allowed employees to receive feedback on their performance and critiques on how to improve.

The American Society of Training Directors was founded in 1942, and gave the concept of corporate training more structure. Today it is known as the Association for Talent Development. Almost 20 years later, in 1961, McDonald’s revolutionized corporate training with the opening of their “Hamburger University”— the first corporate university. Shortly after, in 1962, Robert Glaser introduced the idea of instructional design, which incorporates a mixture of education, psychology and communications to develop teaching plans. This concept is still widely used as the base for all customized corporate training programs.

The concept of “informal learning” was developed in 1970 by Malcolm Knowles. This methodology allows the learner to set their own goals, rather than having a training department determine what the end result should be for the employee.

The concept of “informal learning” was developed in 1970 by Malcolm Knowles.

Throughout the 1980s and ‘90s corporate learning became more computerized thanks to technological advances. By the mid-1990s blended learning really began to take-off when companies invested resources into classroom and computer-based learning. As a result, the term “eLearning” made its way into our vernacular by 2004. By the end of the first decade of the2000s, “mobile learning” gained traction in the custom training world.

That brief overview brings us to where we currently are today. In the next section, we’ll cover the basic types of training methods currently in use.

Different Corporate Training Models

The Functional Training Model targets what needs to be fixed or tweaks that need to be made to a system rather than knowledge and training. This mode of custom corporate training targets the actions and behaviors of employees and company culture in an attempt to improve the environment.

The Kirkpatrick Training Model centers around measuring results of your custom corporate training. People like to know what their return on investment is, and this method tracks those statistics as employees go through the training by recording reactions, learning, behavior, and results.

The University Training Model is exactly what it sounds like: a private, high-level training campus dedicated solely to one company and their needs. These campuses focus on a specific organization’s strategies for human, economic, financial, technological, social and environmental values.

Centralized Training Design is training that puts learning resources in one place managed by a single person or group. This method allows for consistency in methods and content being standardized across the company thus ensuring goals are met.

Statistics on Effectiveness of Corporate Training

According to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Learning Report, 93% of employees would stay at a company longer if that company better invested in the development of their careers. Professional development is now an expected component of employment, which is why developing a customized corporate training is so important. The study further breaks down that 68% of employees prefer to learn at work, which indicates the importance of having a solid corporate training module in place. About half (49%) of employees only want to learn at the point of need, meaning training needs to be concise and focus on areas where the employees struggle or need more resources to be efficient in.


Every organization has the capability to design and implement the right customized corporate training program. There are a number of effective and useful options. Moreover, many employees expect training and learning on the job. The result of the right training program will demonstrate a return on investment, develop the workforce, and retain talented employees.