Canadian Manufacturing

State of frontline workplace training, study

by CMO Staff   

Canadian Manufacturing
Human Resources Manufacturing Research & Development Risk & Compliance Infrastructure

The study reveals 34% of manufacturing employees said they are trained on the wrong things that don’t help them do their jobs

WATERLOO, Ont. – A new report says many frontline employees lack the development opportunities they urgently want.

Nearly one-third of frontline employees do not receive any formal workplace training, a number that has remained stagnant year over year, reports microlearning platform Axonify in its third annual State of Frontline Workplace Training Study. This lack of formal training is even higher for part-time employees (36%), which has significant implications for the retail industry in particular.

The research, conducted in June 2019 by global market research firm Ipsos, engaged frontline employees from a range of industries to find out what is most important to them when it comes to how they are supported on the job.

“With more than 2.7 billion people working in a frontline environment who work in environments such as retail, contact centers, professional sales, finance and insurance, and manufacturing and logistics, their impact on the bottom line is crucial for most businesses,” said Carol Leaman, CEO of Axonify, which is headquartered in Waterloo, Ont.


The main highlights from the research include:

Reskilling and upskilling are not only required, they’re desired
According to the World Economic Forum, more than half of the world’s workforce will need significant reskilling by 2023. While there is much uncertainty around how frontline jobs will evolve and what skills will be required to perform these new jobs, the research clearly demonstrated that employees are anticipating these changes and want training that prepares them for what lies ahead.

  • More than three-quarters (76%) of employees feel the opportunity to complete additional training designed to develop their skills for the future would make an employer (present or prospective) more appealing to them. When broken down by employment status, 79% of full-time employees echo this sentiment versus 66% of part-time employees.
  • Future-focused development is especially valued by those starting out their career, with nine out of 10 Millennials (89%) saying they are interested in future-focused training compared to 81% of Gen Xers and only 59% of Baby Boomers.
  • Despite a healthy appetite for additional training that develops skills for the future, only 41% of employees say their employer offers this kind of development.

Training effectiveness across industries
While 59% of respondents report that training is very effective in helping them do their job well, that number differs widely based on the respondent’s industry.

Industry Training rating
Finance and Insurance 67% Effective
Professional Sales 70% Effective
Manufacturing 58% Effective
Logistics 47% Effective
Contact Centre 47% Effective
Retail 55% Effective


Of those that said their training was not effective, some of the reasons they indicated included:

  • In Manufacturing and Logistics, 37% only receive training a few times per year and 34% of Manufacturing employees said they are trained on the wrong things that don’t help them do their jobs.
  • In Retail, 27% said their training is boring and not engaging and 43% of Finance and Insurance respondents agreed.
  • In Contact Centres, 43% said too much information is thrown at them at once.

Important attributes for effective frontline workplace training
Disengagement is a continuous issue employers face, two-thirds to be exact, noted Axonify. The study found 81% of employees believe training makes them feel more engaged (happy) at work. And 79% of participants feel that more frequent training would make them feel even more engaged. Across industries, here are the additional top attributes the research discovered make training effective:

  • The most desirable attribute for the third year in a row is training that is easy to complete and understand (91%).
  • The ability to access information from anywhere, at any time is also important to employees (90%).
  • Training that is personalized and relevant remains a top-ranked attribute (89%). Over the three-year history of this study, training that’s boring/not engaging consistently ranks as one of the top two reasons for ineffectiveness (91% in 2018).
  • The ability to apply training on the job is also an important attribute (87%). This was extremely important across the board – regardless of industry, age and employment status.

Study Methodology
Findings from the 2019 State of Frontline Workplace Training Study were derived from an Ipsos poll conducted from June 10-18, 2019. For the survey, more than 1000 U.S. adults over the age of 18 were interviewed online, in English. The sample includes both full-time (74%) and part-time (26%) employed people. For the purpose of this survey, frontline employees refer to employees across a variety of industries including Retail, Contact Center, Professional Sales, Finance and Insurance, and Manufacturing and Logistics.


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