External Training Guide: Advantages and Navigating Challenges

Organizations are constantly seeking ways to remain competitive and innovative. One of the key strategies to achieve this is developing their most valuable asset: their employees. External training programs, offered by outside experts, do just that by providing specialized skills and knowledge often not found in in-house training, boosting employee capabilities and company growth.

This article delves into the advantages and disadvantages of this type of training, providing insights into making informed decisions and best practices to maximize the benefits of these opportunities.

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Advantages of External Training

There are various reasons why bringing in outside expertise to conduct training can boost learning outcomes and enhance on-the-job application of new knowledge and competencies. External training offers several key benefits to help improve employee performance and skills. The main advantages can are:

  • Access to Specialized Knowledge and Expertise
  • Fresh Perspectives and Innovative Approaches
  • Networking Opportunities
  • Focus on Learning

Access to Specialized Knowledge and Expertise

External training providers offer the opportunity to tap into unique knowledge and expertise. The use of external training providers can give your organization access to trainers who are subject matter experts in their field, bringing a wealth of experience that’s potentially difficult to find internally. These providers know all the latest industry trends, methods, and techniques, which can all lead to the success of your training program.

Fresh Perspectives and Innovative Approaches

By using an external training provider, your employees can be exposed to new perspectives and problem-solving strategies that can ignite their creativity, lead to breakthrough innovations within your organization, and boost their professional growth to help bring about organizational improvement.

Networking Opportunities

Employing external training providers exposes your employees to subject matter experts who can share a wealth of experience and insights that will enrich their learning. Interacting with instructors will boost your employees’ skills which translates into greater efficiency and creativity, increasing your organization’s ability to look at challenges as opportunities for professional growth.

Focus on Learning

Unlike many internal training experiences, external training removes employees from their day-to-day work distractions, allowing them to immerse themselves in learning. Without the distractions of their jobs, employees will be able to concentrate on the material being taught, improving their ability to understand and retain their newly acquired skills.

Disadvantages of External Training

While external training offers some benefits, there are also potential drawbacks to consider when bringing in outside trainers and programs. Relying too heavily on third-party vendors for employee development can pose risks and hidden costs that reduce the return on investment of external training solutions. The main disadvantages can be highlighted in these key areas:

  • Cost Considerations
  • One-Size-Fits-All Approach
  • Disruption of Work
  • Application of Learned Skills

Cost Considerations

The use of external training providers comes with potential expenses beyond the actual training program’s price tag. Organizations need to consider fees, travel costs, and time away from work. These hidden charges add up fast and can be a financial hurdle for small- to medium-sized businesses.

One-Size-Fits-All Approach

The disadvantage of some external training programs is that they take a one-size-fits-all approach, rather than taking your employees’ unique learning styles into account. Additionally, a one-size-fits-all approach may not align with the specific needs of your organization. If training doesn’t meet the needs of your employees, you run the risk that they will be unable to acquire the skills they need, which will leave your employees and your organization questioning just how effective this whole exercise was in the first place.

Disruption of Work

Heading out of the office to attend training sessions can impact schedules and project timelines. Organizations must carefully manage this disruption, so it keeps your overall productivity and workflow manageable.

Application of Learned Skills

After acquiring new skills comes the challenge of applying them in everyday tasks. Integrating newly acquired knowledge into daily routines could be challenging at first – thus reducing effectiveness and efficiency in the short-term.

Making the Decision: Steps for Finding the Right Training Program

Choosing the right training can make the difference between the training falling flat versus igniting innovation. Here are some steps to follow:

Step 1: To choose the most effective external training provider, you must first dig deep into your organization’s needs, and your employees’ current skills, which means you must:

  • Determine your short- and long-term strategic objectives.
  • Understand the skills your employees currently have and the skills they need to be successful.
  • Spot opportunities to bring in outside training expertise to improve your training program’s success.

Tools like skills audits, surveys among staff members, and performance data are all great ways to get an overall picture to plan your next steps forward.

Step 2: Once you understand the overall picture, it’s time to match your training needs with suitable external training programs that sync with your organizational goals and employee learning styles.

Here are some ideas:

  • Send out surveys to find out how your employees prefer to learn.
  • Look for training programs that offer various methods of information delivery.
  • Provide supplemental material relevant to your organization.
  • Meet with external training providers to gauge their understanding of the unique challenges faced by your organization.

Step 3:  Calculate your Return on Investment (ROI) to justify the spending and shape future training strategies.

Remember to account for not only easily collected results, but also the hidden benefits training provides. While results like increased productivity levels, better work quality, and better employee retention are essential and easy data points to collect, don’t forget to account for benefits like higher morale in your organization, leading to a stronger organizational brand. Additionally, it’s crucial to consider employee feedback, as their insights contribute to a holistic perspective of how much value the training programs bring to your employees and to your organization.

Best Practices for External Training

It’s crucial to follow best practices to harness the full potential of your training programs. Here are some best practices when considering external training:

Selecting the Right Training Provider

Kicking off a solid training initiative starts with teaming up with the provider that meets your training needs. Here are some of the criteria you can use to select the right training provider:

  • Expertise and Experience: The training provider should have trainers that are subject-matter experts who understand your industry and have a proven track record of getting results.
  • Curriculum Relevance: The training provider should offer courses aligned your organizational goals that are up-to-date and comprehensive that address specific skills gaps or development goals you have identified within your organization.
  • Teaching Methods: The training provider should provide multiple training methods to align with your employees’ preferred learning method.
  • Flexibility and Customization: The training provider you select for your organization should offer flexible and customizable training options that match your organizational needs. The ability to customize training options will add relevance to your training program.
  • Feedback and References: Look at reviews and testimonials from other organizations to find training providers that are known for allying with organizations and have a track record of providing quality training.

Maximizing the Benefits of External Training

To maximize the benefits associated with external training programs, it is crucial that you have plans in place for all stages of the training process—before, during, and after. Some things to consider at each stage of the training process include:

  • Before: Before a training session, it is crucial to have pre-training assessments to pinpoint the gaps in your employees’ knowledge that the training intends to fill.
  • During: Ensure everyone is actively involved and engaged in the sessions through interactive activities, group discussions, or hands-on exercises.
  • After: After training, provide a post-training assessment to determine knowledge acquisition and retention. Additionally, provide opportunities for your staff to apply their newly gained knowledge through real-world scenarios. Not only will this boost retention rates, but it will boost your employees’ confidence, which will lead to improved efficiency and business results.

Follow-Up and Integration

The true value of training happens when employees can take the new skills and seamlessly blend them into their everyday work. Here are some tips to use after training is complete:

  • Check-In Meetings: Set up these meetings to review information, tackle any roadblocks, and make sure the learning momentum stays strong.
  • Integration into Work Routines: Back up the use of these new abilities by pinpointing certain projects or tasks where employees can test out their newly acquired skills.
  • Creating a Culture of Continuous Learning: Foster a culture that values constant growth and development. Encourage your employees to share their knowledge – it makes everyone better at what they do, creating a vibrant environment for learning.


While using external training providers has its perks like gaining specialized knowledge and making connections, it also comes with the potential for higher costs and a lack of alignment with your organization’s needs. For training programs to be a success, your organization must pinpoint your employees’ skills gaps, think about how your employees learn best, and decide if the ROI is worth it. Picking suitable external training providers and diving into the learning journey can boost your organization’s competitiveness and spark growth.

So before taking that leap, assess if the use of external training providers matches up with what your organization needs by weighing both pros and cons carefully. Remember: training isn’t just another checkbox on a list of things to do but an invaluable instrument to foster professional growth and innovation.

Taking the time to understand the needs of your employees and organization will make selecting an external training provider that has solutions that coincide with the big-picture goals of your organization.

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