Why Practical Learning & Development Is Giving Organisations An Edge

practical learning professional woman talking in office

Do you remember how you learned the skills you need to do your job? Was it at school, sitting behind a desk, trying to pay attention to a teacher with a droning, monotonous voice? Or was it being thrown into the deep end, being assigned tasks, being entrusted with something and getting the chance to do it for yourself?

I’d be willing to bet it was the latter. Practical learning or ‘how’ learning (also known as experiential learning) is more effective than theory; it always has been. In this article, we’re going to look at exactly what it is and why it’s so important for businesses to invest in.

3 benefits of practical learning for businesses

What is practical learning?

Practical learning, or ‘how’ learning, is a method of developing new skills in an experiential way. It’s a hands-on learning style that is becoming extremely popular in corporate training because of how effective it is in comparison to traditional classroom style training.  

The power of practical learning is in its ability to combat the Ebbinghaus “forgetting curve”, which shows how knowledge is lost over time (up to 80% within one month) if the individual makes no attempt to retain it. This makes the majority of classroom based training a complete waste of time and money because as soon as attendees leave the classroom, the information is already being forgotten.With practical training, however, the information is learned and put into practice straight away. Learners are taught how to use their new skills in the scenarios in which they’re needed. This ‘how’ approach, plus repetition or ‘sustained learning’, is what supports the retention of the knowledge.



3 business benefits gained through using practical learning styles

1. Accelerates learning for quicker training ROI

When we learn by doing, we learn faster. Information recall has been shown to be 75% through learning by doing and even as high as 95%. This is in comparison to 5% recall after simply being told something. 

So, instead of a 10-week classroom training program, employees could attend an immersive weekend workshop and not only would the training be more effective, but it could be put into practice in the workplace much sooner. This means better training ROI for the business and also less lost revenue due to time away from the workplace.

2. Hands-on ‘how’ training leads to loyal employees

Contrary to popular myth, research shows that millennials don’t job-hop any more than Generation X did. In fact, among the college-educated, Millennials have longer track records with their employers than Generation X workers did in 2000 when they were the same age.

This is perhaps because they’re uncertain about their future. According to Deloitte, Millennials in developed countries like Australia have a somewhat gloomy outlook on their personal prospects – citing the economy and workplace automation as factors. They also have a desire to increase their influence at work and recognise practical training as a means to do that. When a company invests in effective training and development, employees feel more valued, confident and positive about their future.

3. Practical skills training within organisations gives them an edge

We know there’s currently a skills shortage within the Australian workforce and that 77% of employers believe soft skills are as important as hard skills. Now, the operative word here is “skills”. Skills are not something that you learn in the classroom. You learn skills on the job, in life, by learning how to do something and applying that knowledge in practical situations. Why, then, is the majority of corporate training still based on traditional out-dated classroom methods? 

$87.6 billion is spent in the US on corporate training. But, as Dan Pontefract writes in Forbes, it’s mainly wasted. “One of my favorite lines that describes this situation is “spray and pray.” The one day of training was sprayed out with a fire hose by the facilitator to those in attendance. Leaders then pray that whatever was taught somehow magically gets absorbed (and applied) by the employees in attendance after the training finishes.”

With practical learning or deep learning, there’s no “spray and pray”. There’s no risk that all that time and money will have been for nought because the attendees are participants. They’re learning how to put their skills into practice, and doing it right there in the training room.  

This is the kind of training we offer at Colin James Method. We have a reputation for providing immersive, business-relevant ‘how’ training that will transform your employees and deliver immediate ROI to your business. Find out more about our corporate training programs.

The Colin James Method® Facilitators train corporate executives to improve their professional communication skills with a proven methodology. Our highly trained Facilitators and Coaches are recognised for their experience in their fields and have worked with many individuals and organisations around the world to master the art of communication.

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