• Small employers (defined as 5-250 employees) expect new hires to bring different skill levels to the job depending on the job to be performed. The amount and types of employee training vary with the skills accompanying them to the job and the job requirements, both initially (immediately after hire) and later.
• Small employers typically require minimal levels of formal education for both the most skilled and the most common jobs in the firm. Fifty-five (55) percent expect no more than a high school diploma for the most skilled job and 73 percent expect no more than a high school diploma for the most common job.
• Small employers typically require previous experience for the most skilled job, but require it much less often for the most common job. Experience appears to be a substitute for formal education.
• The skills most frequently expected to accompany new employees involve work habits and attitudes, the ability to follow directions, the capacity to read and write directions and explanations, and English proficiency. Small employers expect that employees for the most part will learn on the job occupational skills (when necessary), the products and services sold, and the firm’s operational procedures.
• The most common form of employee training immediately after hire is having someone in the firm work with the new employee. The second most common form is letting employees learn on their own, essentially learning by doing. Training after the first year on the job still centers on the owner/employee assisting the employee, but is much more likely to involve sending him/her outside the business.
• About four in five small employers provide employee training beyond introductory activity. However, 40 - 50 percent routinely train employees after the first year in the most skilled or most common position in the firm while another 35 - 40 percent train them as needed. No information was collected on training the least skilled employees unless the least skilled are also the most common.
• No over-riding problem or set of problems beset small employers in their employee training efforts. The most severe, albeit severe only for a limited number, is the lack of time owners and/or other employees have available to help others; employees possessing inadequate learning skills and often interest, necessary to acquire new or upgraded skills; and cost, including the inability to pull the employee off the job.
• At least seven in 10 small employers use organizations outside the firm to train employees, particularly to train employees with longer tenures. Seventy-one (71) percent of small employers used in the last three years at least one of the seven organizational forms explored; 47 percent used at least two; and 28 percent used at least three.
• Over the last three years, the most used employee training organizations were in the private sector: industry-specific or trade associations (48% of small employers used at least once) and suppliers (40%). Less frequently used were vocational/trade schools (23%), junior or community colleges (14%), and four-year colleges/universities (6%). Government sponsored programs engaged about 10 percent. Distance or computer-based learning, public or private, was used by 21 percent of small employers.