Education and training don’t just happen in the classroom anymore. It is becoming part of a more comprehensive system that includes not only academic institutions but workplaces and other training organisations.
Here, we discuss the importance of Workplace Learning and how it can be delivered effectively.
What is Workplace Learning?
Workplace Learning refers to training that takes place in the workplace and can include anything from on-the-job training to specialised skill-based learning.
Why is it important?
The current competitive nature of the economy and the rise of technology has had a significant impact on the workplace. Workplace learning has the potential to address this, in creating a skilled workforce that thrives on innovation. This is critical as innovation is viewed as a key ingredient in order for businesses to be competitive.
Employers are often looking for a diverse range of skills, including the technical skills required to do a job, and general soft skills like communication and problem solving that will help with day-to-day tasks. In turn, employees, now more than ever, are required to continuously up-skill and re-skill in order to stay relevant and competitive in the job market.
This has meant that Workplace Learning has developed an important role in the scope of education and training.
To paint a picture, workplace learning is important because:
- It gives businesses a competitive edge as it cultivates innovation
- It provides motivation for workers as they can see a reward from their investment, including higher earning capacity and promotions
- It enables workers to be more efficient and effective in their respective roles
- It keeps workers up to date with the latest technologies and changes in best work practices
- It encourages worker retention by providing internal career progression
In an ‘ideal’ Workplace Learning model, a systemic approach that involves networks and partnerships is crucial.
Creating an ideal Workplace Learning Model
As mentioned above, effective Workplace Learning should allow businesses to innovate. The global economy has changed the demands for goods and services, and with it, the methods of technology and communication are required to keep up. This has created the need for a more skilled and dynamic workforce in order to remain competitive.
This is where Vocational Education and Training (VET) comes in. There are opportunities for VET to develop relationships with Australian industries and form networks with co-operative research centres. These research centres are dedicated to achieving outcomes that have commercial viability.
The VET system can benefit from these close relationships by gaining awareness and first-hand insight into the skill requirements of emerging industries. In turn, the centres can benefit from the expertise that comes with VET professionals in designing and delivering courses that enable the extensive application of innovations.
It is important to remember that while research and development are important factors in innovation, for the most part, it is highly dependant on continued improvement in performance. For this reason, Workplace Learning should aim to make improvements to existing processes, procedures, goods produced and services rendered, that contribute to the performance of the business.
How is effective Workplace Learning delivered?
Workplace Learning is an area that is well on the way in adopting modern practices. There are several ways to deliver successful Workplace Learning and it doesn’t necessarily require learners to be in the classroom!
A study undertaken by the Australia National Training Authority provides great insights into how to achieve success with workplace learning. According to the study, a number of elements need to be present. Let’s unpack them here.
Examine workplace culture
Creating an environment where Workplace Learning is valued goes a long way toward skilling and up-skilling employees. They may feel that Workplace Learning is not a high priority, with employers possibly seeing it as a ‘cost’ to their business.
This needs to change, with employers recognising Workplace Learning as an ‘investment’, and communicating this to their employees. Time should be set aside on a regular basis for employees to engage in Workplace Learning, and employers should take an active role in facilitating it.
Assigning value to Workplace Learning may result in higher engagement and outcomes.
Support all forms of workplace learning
Businesses should make an effort to support different forms of training with a focus on customising learning to the individual. A one-size-fits-all approach is likely not the answer! Not everyone learns the same way, nor is any job exactly the same.
Training may be informal, like arranging work in such a way that maximises learning opportunities, or maybe more formal and include competency-based tasks or units. However, tweaks will need to be made to ensure the learning needs of the individual are also met.
Include workplace learning in business planning
Organisations need to adapt to the changing market landscape conditions, which also applies to their employees. One way to increase the chances of success is to align Workplace Learning with business goals.
For instance, where the business plan aims to improve efficiencies by introducing a new system, it is important to recognise that employees will need to be trained in the new technology. This then means time will need to be allocated for that specific Workplace Learning to occur.
Engage key networks to facilitate training
Of course, for workplace learning to happen, training needs to be provided. With informal training, businesses rely on their internal staff; however, to provide more structured learning, they may benefit from reaching out to other networks including training providers.
With the rise of modern learning practices, e-learning has provided a valuable tool for businesses when engaging networks. Rolling out Workplace Learning in this way allows businesses to customise the training and personalise the experience. For training providers that are able to deliver this level of customisation, there is potential to greatly enhance your network of contacts in different industries.
Compliance issues in Workplace Learning
Compliance may be one of the common challenges when it comes to Workplace Learning, and with remote learning on the rise, additional challenges are introduced. Now more than ever, training providers are in need of a reliable system to ensure compliance requirements can be met in any climate.
Some of the challenges that surround compliance include:
- Monitoring progress: The time it takes to complete workplace learning can vary. Training providers need a process that allows them to efficiently monitor learner progress.
- Recording evidence of completion: With any course run by a training provider, employers require evidence of completion.
- Authenticity of the learner: Where workplace learning is remote, the identity of the learner comes into question – how can you ensure the person attending the virtual classroom or submitting the assessments is in fact the learner? Training providers are required to put in place measures to ensure a level of authenticity is available.
- Completing remote workplace learning that requires observation: This provides another compliance issue when learning cannot be face to face. Training providers need to introduce processes that enable observations to take place remotely.
Cloud Assess provide a number of solutions to enable training providers to effectively meet workplace learning compliance.
Achieving success in Workplace Learning will likely require planning and commitment, but the benefits to employers, employees and industries are well worth the time and effort.