Demystifying self-training and how to utilise it to your advantage

April 19, 2021

The discussion about employee training and development has commonly attributed this responsibility to corporations, those that seek to upskill their workforce. Nonetheless, the learning options presented to employees have broadened over the years since employers realised that each person has their own leaning pace and needs.  

Employees adopting self- training as a development method has gained momentum recently due to its flexibility in time and space. This method can provide employees with a sense of ownership over their learning and career development.  

Self-training can be powerful and convenient to some people. However, there are numerous possible challenges that can be posed by this learning approach. Grasping how self-training works and how to use it to your advantage is essential to one’s learning and development plan.  

Understanding self-training

Self-training or commonly known in the workplace context as self-directed learning are terms used to denote the process of shifting the responsibility of learning away from the organisation and to the individual – or in this case, the employee.  

By adopting this practice, employees are given the autonomy to shape and organise their learning plan as they see fit. This method of learning requires learners to determine their learning needs, conceive learning goals, prepare human and material resources for learning, apply appropriate learning strategies and evaluate learning outcomes.  

Thriving in today’s fast changing world requires a breadth of both specialised and soft skills. Since the demand for a certain skillset today can become outdated the next day, a company’s learning & development department might not be able to adapt and deploy an up-to-date training scheme on time for their organisation’s needs.  

This is where self-training comes into play.  

Self-structured learning comes across as an individually designed learning method that allows learners to easily incorporate new knowledge into their existing plan.   

Benefits and challenges of self-training 

In the article on “Building capacity: Organizational competence and critical theory”  back in 2000, Jay D Jurie stated that “Organizations which hamper or stunt the free development of their members or constituents … limit their own effectiveness”. This statement points out the correlation between an employee’s liberal development opportunity and a company’s performanceand how the former can reinforce the latter.  

However, the process of integrating self-training culture into a company’s operations is proven to be an arduous task since it requires a great level of independence and commitmentLet’s break down the benefits as well the challenges posed by this learning method on both employees and employers: 


  1. Learners can set their own pace: Aemployee can spend roughly 8 hours at the office per day, so time is one of the most important factors behind their decision. Picking up on self-training allows them to learn on their own terms where they are not pressured to stick to a fixed schedule.
  2. Learners can adjust the learning plan to fit their needs: Having a clear understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses, employees are more capable than any learning & development officer at assessing which skills they need and establishing a comprehensive plan on how to hone those skills. 
  3. Avoid wasting time on redundant lessons: In order to avoid wasting time on lessons or courses that employees might have taken previously, self-training helps employees avoid the rigidity of “one-size-fits-all” approaches when it comes to employee training  


  1. Some learners can’t learn without assistanceSome people are not as familiar with the notion of planning and implementing their own learning trail. As such, self-instructed learning can backfire if employees cannot effectively manage their learning progress 
  2. Learners might get sidetracked easily: Without the supervision from their organisation, some employees might get distracted easily and might not be able to monitor their own learning without the help of others. This can result in undesirable effects on one’s productivity and his/her organisation performance 
  3. It may offer too much freedom: Being granted with too much freedom can come with a few side effects, for instances, being unable to decide and stifled by a myriad of options, uncertainty and anxiety  

Learning culture at NashTech

At NashTech, we believe that our workforce’s development is vital and integral to our growth. 

Aside from offering intensive and in-depth training programs for our employees from all levels, we also assist with their self-training process through mentorship. On top of that, we encourage our employees to take initiative in their own development through providing materials and sponsorship in terms of IT certification exam fees. 

Explore more about our talent development initiative here