When I started in the training business I did what some people called "technical training" -- I taught perople how to program computers in the language C. I have degrees in engineering, so I thought this was technical.
Recently I heard someone say she was a technical trainer. She taught inbound sales people how to answer the phone. I enquired what made that technical.
The dictionary says that the word technical is related to the word technique, and she was teaching the proper technique, so it was technical training.
I would like to distinguish teaching people technical stuff like programming and how to secure a network of computers from technical training like answering the phone. What is the right term? When spreadsheets became popular the term "end-user training" was used to explain how to create spreadsheets, enter equations and so forth. The same applied to word processors and operating systems like Windows. Now many people are calling all this "technical training".
If one teaches accountants how to implement a new accounting rule, they might call it technical training (they are teaching a technique, remember). Is it technical to you?
I would not think a course on teambuilding would be called technical, but I'm not sure what to call it anymore. (I would have used something like "soft skills" in the past.)
Great perspective on this, and I relate this question to what people think a "Barbecue" is - I grew up in NY and thought of Barbecue as hamburgers and hot dogs. I then moved to SC and barbecue was roasting a pig over a pit (funny story about this but I won't elaborate here). Then I moved to southern TX and barbecue was more like cooking fajitas outdoors. I would imagine in KS, barbecue is ribs.
So, to answer your question I think it depends on people's background and experiences. I personally refer to all training as either Technical training or Soft Skills training.
The Technical piece would include the hard skills, service, product, accuracy, etc. which consists of the process itself - such as the Sales process in your example.
The soft skills piece would include communication, rapport, team building, personality assessments, etc. - and in your example of Sales might be 'Overcoming Objections' or 'Listening for Key Words'.
This probably comes from my background in the Call Center world where we typically divide our Quality Assurance process by Technical/Accuracy and Communication/Soft Skills when monitoring phone calls for development of CSRs.
For your arena, I might suggest Computer Programming Training or IS/IT (Information Systems/Technology) Training, or LAN/WAN Training.
I try not to spend much if any time quibbling semantics with anybody. The time spent on it is about as useful as "are we teachers? Trainers? facilitators?..." If she wants to call herself a technical trainer, so be it. Personally, I wouldn't want to be pigeon-holed into any particular subject matter or "genre" as it were.
Call me whatever you like - just don't call me late to the Krispy Kreme donut party.
Good topic. I found these definitions of "technical" with the Word dictionary: “relating to or specializing in industrial techniques or subjects or applied science; skilled in practical or scientific subjects; according to a strict interpretation of rules or words.” I'm like Mark in that I refer to all training as either technical or soft skills training. I like Mark's suggestions for computer/IT training. For some reason I think it works best as a category of its own; so I too would add a third category to training: technical, soft skills, and computer/IT.
Personally, I would not call teaching proper phone answering technical training; instead I'd call it soft skills training. Answering a phone correctly has nothing to do with anything technical and requires no technical background to do it - just the opposite. It requires being good at communication. I see nothing technical about it - unless they are troubleshooting a technical problem. Even then, I wouldn't call it technical training if the point of it is to teach someone how to communicate via phone.
I don't agree that "technique" implies technical everytime when it comes to training. If one accepted that inference, everything - communication technniques, listening techniques, etc., would be technical training. Just doesn't work for me.
I think all this confusion around technical training is a direct result of ASTD's dropping technical training as a "field" when they suddenly stopped the Technical Skills training magazine in the late 1990's. I remember being quite shocked when I read in the last issue, in bold letters, on a full page announcement, that the reason for the change was to "FORCE" people to switch to E-LEARNING. And thus the demise of technical training as a part of the overall training unbrella. Since that time it has been really hard to find much on technical training from ASTD. It's very unfortunate I think. Many, many manufacturing people that I work with complain that there is no "nitch" for them at ASTD conferences any more. Nor are they adequately represented in the literature.This message has been edited. Last edited by: KaliKo,
Ruth Clark has a book called Developing Technical Training. And, at first I didn't pay much attention to it b/c I had the same connotation you did. Technical training = computer training.
However, that is not the topic of her book. Technical training is "a structured learning environment engineered to improve workplace performance in ways that are aligned with bottom line business goals" according to Clark.
I am very glad I went back for a second look at this little book. It is full of useful information. And, this broader definition of "technical training" makes sense in the context of her book.
I think, in general, the term "technical training" has come to include more than just "computer" training.
I also agree with LoveLearning about not getting too caught up in what we call it.
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