06 Aug Fill the Talent Gap with Project-Based Active Corporate Learning Programs
Continuous business improvements in the age of digitization necessitate radical new learning methodologies to unleash the genius from inside of every employee. The idea has evolved beyond a hypothetical value proposition and holds particularly well for organizations across all industry verticals involved in innovative projects. In recent years, traditional passive learning programs have failed to deliver adequately. In 2011, U.S. companies spent $156 billion dollars in employee training. With just over 110 million full-time employees in the U.S. that year, it cost an average of $1,418 for each U.S. employee. Unfortunately, the estimate in skill decay due to the inability to apply what is learned in practical situations is 90% within the first year: sometimes just walking out of the classroom. As a result, most companies are losing an average $1,276 in training for each of their employees. Most companies depend heavily on the classical classroom training, or passive training; but is there a better approach: project-based active learning programs, or learning by doing.
The classic approach to training is passive: relying on the employee to learn from a specific curriculum and applying it in solving theoretical assignments instead of real-world projects. Training is often performed within a classroom, away from the workplace. Students are given materials such as books, pamphlets or slides. They listen to coaches regurgitating the curriculum, or if lucky, expand on the hidden concepts in context of real-world applications. Hands-on training may be possible limited to pre-defined simulations. The classroom setting is an opportunity for employees to focus on the materials being taught, ask questions, and provide feedback. The gap lies in applying the learning in real-world environments.
With active project-based corporate learning programs however, the primary focus remains on encouraging employees to learn while they perform practical assignments similar tasks undertakes as part of their actual jobs. While some of the training may be performed in the classroom, progressing through the course requires employees to investigate problems and solve complex business challenges as part of on-field and office-based projects. Through group discussions, peer assignments and mentoring, employees are able to acquire skills and understand how to apply them in on actual job tasks. The measurement of success for project-based training is the ability to act upon the acquired knowledge base, as opposed to learning information and never truly finding a way to transform knowledge base into practical skills.
Project-based training has its drawbacks. Foremost on the list is the cost of providing this type of training in terms of financial and time investments. The financial cost has a definitive increase over the traditional classroom, particularly in setting up training environments and hiring expert coaches to work closely with the organization to empower their workforce with specific skills. But by ensuring that each concept is understood and applied properly in a real-world situation, employees are more likely to retain the information acquired as part of the learning program. Despite these drawbacks, project-based training enables students to improve their critical thinking, research skills, and communication and collaboration skills.
Why should a company invest in project-based training at this time? Any company investing in implementing Lean methodologies for improvement understand the difference between theoretical and practical implementation of the methodology. Most implementation teams are quite knowledgeable in Lean concepts, but unable to recognize and address problems and challenges unique to each implementation. As a result, these implementations often fail. Using the project-based training methods, these problems and challenges become the basis for training in Lean project training programs. Employees move from theory to practical application of concepts learned in a controlled, real-world environment. When the next implementation of Lean approaches, employees have already learned from their mistakes and victories and made appropriate changes to succeed. The results for the company through project-based learning is a skilled workforce, that’s actively participating in the success of the company, motivated to learn, and is actively improving how the company operates.
If your corporate talent pool is currently falling short, call Conscientia Corporation for on-demand hiring needs at 480-626-0063.