Helping people learn

Oct 11 2004 by Brian Amble Print This Article

A top-down fact-dominated, mechanistic approach to learning will no longer produce what is needed in modern organisations, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

The growing recognition of this fact is creating new challenges for human resource and development professionals as they work to ensure the modern workforce has the skills and adaptive capacity to deal with the fast moving global economy.

This is one of the conclusions of a new report examining the changing way people learn in the modern workforce, and mapping out the future of learning.

‘Helping People Learn: Strategies for moving from training to learning’ concludes that the dominance of the classroom-based training course in workplace learning is no longer appropriate for a global economy where change happens so quickly and with such regularity that classroom based, fact dominated learning soon becomes out of date.

Successful organisations are those that can persuade and encourage their people to learn to learn – to seek actively to acquire the skills necessary to enable constant learning, and the accompanying desire to make use of these skills. This will only happen in the right circumstances: the organisation must seek to create what is described in the report as a “growth medium”.

Martyn Sloman, the CIPD's Learning, Training and Development Adviser, said that it is important to remember that learning is a discretionary behaviour.

"You can’t make someone learn just by sticking them in a classroom, however flash the presentation equipment and however slick the presenter," he said.

"You can train someone to use a piece of equipment, or to adhere to a dress code. But if you want them to understand and respond to the changing needs of your customers, and to help you to improve processes, they have to want to learn and to share learning with others.

"Nobody has to learn, and if you want your people to do more than pitch up in the morning, get through the day and go home again, then you’re going to have to persuade, incentivise, encourage and support them until they want to learn.

"Getting this message across, from the boardroom to the front line manager, and everywhere in between, is the challenge facing managers at all levels in business and government.”