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How to Globalize Corporate Training Programs in the Manufacturing Industry

Few manufacturing companies expand overseas with an international strategy in place. Usually the process of going global is incremental, driven by overseas acquisitions, opportunities and new partnerships. As this happens, the global workforce inevitably expands and those new employees, partners and suppliers need to be properly trained — in a language they understand. This may seem like a mammoth task for even the most diligent training & eLearning department, but there are steps you can take to reduce your workload while simultaneously providing a more customized onboarding and training experience for overseas employees. You can begin by translating your existing corporate training material into the key languages of your overseas employees. Then follow our helpful writing tips to make translation and localization easier for new and future training material. Here’s how to get started:

Localization vs translation

First, you need to decide which approach to take: Translation is the process of converting your course text from one language into another. Localization goes a step further – it adapts your course linguistically and culturally for the target market. For example, have you considered your use of:

  • Colors, images, gestures or symbols – Does your course include anything that could be confusing, irrelevant or negatively viewed by another culture? For example, if you’re expanding into a conservative country like Saudi Arabia, the localization process could swap an image of a family in bathing suits with a family in hiking gear. Or if you’re expanding into India, Pakistan or Sri Lanka, consider swapping a picture of an American baseball field with a cricket field (a much more popular sport in those countries).
  • Contextual nuances – Does your course include any local or regional references, jokes, abbreviations, etc.? This is great for employees in the original region, but it could be confusing for employees in other locations. If you choose to localize your course, you will need to regionalize your content for different audiences or simply remove any regional-specific references entirely.

Tip: Cultural sensitivity is at the heart of localization, and this can go a long way towards showing that you respect and value your entire international team.

How to effectively localize your existing online training

Start by selecting a professional language service provider (LSP) to manage your eLearning localization project. Remember, there is no substitute for experience — so select an LSP that can ensure your course/s will be analyzed efficiently, translated and localized accurately, and delivered on-time and on budget.

Once you’ve selected a language partner, sort your training content to identify what needs translation and what doesn’t. For video, decide on the best strategy regarding dubbing or subtitles for each intended audience. Then provide your LSP with any previously translated text, a glossary of any specialized company terms, and style guides for text and graphics.

Tip: It’s also a good idea to appoint an internal subject matter expert to answer any questions that arise during the LSP’s localization process.

Writing tips for new eLearning courses

In a global business environment, one way to make new training content more effective is to produce eLearning courses and online videos that can be localized for employees who hold the same or similar positions in different countries — and therefore require the same training but in different languages. When you start working on a new training course, follow these three tips to make future translation attempts easier:

  1. Consider the reading level of your target audience: Are you training a financial analyst with an MBA, a factory manager with a high school diploma or a delivery and assembly team with little or no formal education? Be sure to create content that is at the appropriate comprehension level for each position you’re training.
  2. Write your course with clear and concise sentence structure. Try using lists to write step-by-step instructions that are easy to follow and digest – and never use the passive voice!
  3. Avoid culture-specific examples, comedy, slang, metaphors and abbreviations. This will make it much easier to convert the course into other languages.

Platform localization

Your internal business software and operating platforms are only as effective as the people trained to use them. If you want to expand your business in non-Anglophone countries, you need to consider who will be using your internal software and platforms there. If your international employees have difficulty understanding menus, buttons or dialog boxes during onboarding and training, they are less likely to accurately use all the internal software features available to them. Localizing your business software for international manufacturing sites will result in higher comprehension of the tools available, which should ultimately lead to more efficient use of employee time.

Tip: Software localization includes the re-formatting of numbers and dates, as well as the adaptation of fonts and images to local norms. Sometimes this can result in text expansion or contraction within the user interface (UI), in which case it’s important for your LSP to work with your design team to ensure that the final, localized UI is seamlessly presented to your eLearners.

Embrace the opportunity

eLearning localization offers a chance to make a profound impact on the performance of your global workforce. By providing a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities, company culture, and values, you can build a solid foundation that will increase employee engagement and company cohesion. And according to numerous studies, companies with well-trained and highly engaged employees are far more profitable and achieve significantly higher growth. Consider the possibilities.