6 reasons why work-based learning is better than traditional training

A recent Fortune/Deloitte survey found that 71% of CEOs are anticipating that this year’s biggest business disrupter will be a skills shortage – costing businesses trillions of dollars by the end of the decade.

Donut chart showing 71% of CEOs are anticipating this year's biggest business disrupter will be a skills shortage
71% of CEOs are anticipating this year’s biggest business disrupter will be a skills shortage

Those in Learning & Development (L&D) will probably already know that finding the right kind of training to address the skills gap is a huge challenge. The marketplace is awash with traditional programs intended to boost a standard array of skillsets. But many of these won’t complement the specific transformation you’re looking to make. Especially in a business landscape that’s seen a sudden acceleration of innovation on the back of a global pandemic.

How you choose to train your teams has never been more important. And work-based learning might well be the best way to future-proof your business.

What is work-based learning? 

Put simply, it’s learning on the job. But it’s more than that. It’s a custom-made process that enables employees to grow with the business and to practice their new skills in real time.

It provides a structured, supportive environment where experimentation is encouraged, and where learners can immediately apply principles in exercises and practical activities. All tailored specifically to your organization’s circumstances and goals.

That means working on real projects, with real colleagues, and sharing real learnings with the whole team.

Take improving presentation skills as an example. Learners could take a traditional course. Or scour the internet for professional tips. Or they could learn the key concepts in the context of their own work, and then practice in front of colleagues or be encouraged to present more frequently at work.

When you’re trying to acquire new skills, “learning by doing” has an immediate impact. You can see the progress as it happens.

Why businesses are embracing work-based learning

The principles behind work-based learning have been around for decades. But with a heightened focus on upskilling or reskilling, these principles are gaining more and more traction—particularly among L&D professionals who are increasingly challenged to align learning programs to their organization’s strategic business goals.

But what actually makes work-based learning superior to traditional training methods?

Here are six key reasons why more businesses are embracing work-based learning:

1. It’s personalized.

Traditional training is normally pre-written and delivered to a large group, which makes it inevitable that some elements might not be relevant to your specific situation. Whereas work-based learning is tailored to individuals and teams and requires learners to work on real projects.

2. Value is delivered immediately.

Unless it’s used regularly, new information can be quickly forgotten. But work-based learning delivers immediately, with new ideas and skills honed, tested and ready to apply at the end of each lesson. Even if learners don’t master new skills straight away, they’ll be developing and improving as they go along.

3. Information is more easily retained.

Maintaining focus in a traditional classroom setting isn’t easy. Especially with deadlines looming and conflicting schedules. So, by letting learners choose the time, space, and pace that works best for them, work-based learning optimizes knowledge retention.

4. Your team learns better, together.

Traditional training tends to deliver knowledge to a select group of employees. Work-based learning, on the other hand, can be spread widely among the team—from discussing challenges and ideas, to collaborating on activities, to improving current processes from newly-acquired skills.

5. Real impact you can measure.

Rather than relying on the vanity metrics of traditional training (i.e. number of hours completed), work-based learning delivers valuable outcomes you can actually measure. Such as faster acquisition of relevant skills proven through practical assessments.

6. Learning is linked to strategic goals.

The impact of traditional training tends to take a while to surface, but with work-based learning, the training becomes key to your company’s success. New and relevant skills mean employees are more productive in their roles, which accelerates progress toward their team goals, which in turn supports achieving broader strategic objectives, such as the evolution to a digital operating model.

If you’re interested in discovering how to apply work-based learning in your organization, visit Academy, Emergn’s work-based learning program that delivers agile, product and leadership capabilities at scale across your entire organization.