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Training versus Learning from an Australian perspective

This posting has been supplied by one of our colleagues based in Queensland, Australia - Becky Paroz.

Most training centres are just that.  They offer training, certification to a certain level, with a certificate or some sort of acknowledgement of completion at the end of the course.  The course is structured with listed, usually measurable, learning outcomes and as you progress through the course, you receive a level of competency from a trainer overseeing your progress.


This is how it is normally done and has been for some time in our modern world.  Previously in history, before the advent of the training organization, there were things like “learn-on-the-job” and apprenticeships, where you were mentored and taught by someone with years of experience in conducting the actual tasks you were to learn.


This art has died out in recent years, to the point where, certainly in Australia, it is becoming a crisis in some industries as the older generations move into retirement…. But there are no replacements in their field.


Apprenticeships are no longer what the next generation aims for in a large part due to the allure of a “degree”.  Whether it is via an education facility such as a University, or more flexible arrangements from a private college, the “degree” has become the latest fashion trend to supplement your career skills.  There is merit in that as education and knowledge become intertwined in our digital age.


And now universities and other training organizations are starting to look at “on-the-job” experience as a part of those who would graduate with degrees.


We seem to have come full circle and still don’t seem have the results we need to further the next generations of skills and experience.  What is missing?


The training is delivered according to the guidelines set down by the trainer, the organization, the regulations of the country.  All good so far.  But how does that translate into real learning for the student?


This is the key missing element of the training organization.  Along the way, tutors, trainers and teachers seem to have disengaged from the process of learning, and the next generations, without being shown what learning is, suffer from the lack.  It may be in part due to motivation, in may be in part to the vast array of knowledge that we can access in an instant instead of the “old days” where a library required you to attend and reading was needed for research.  It took time back in the “old days” to find something out for yourself, to build a body of knowledge.  Now “google” is the new library.  And why learn when you can “ask Siri” and have an answer immediately?


Where is the incentive to learn?


The incentive needs to be given to the student, along with the material to learn these days.  Some places are trying “gamification” concepts to engage with a new generation.  Some offer “experiential” learning – a combination of knowledge and activities designed to use that knowledge and allow it to embed in the conscious while the training takes place.  These are less traditional ways of training, but are they less effective as a result of being new?


There are some studies that prove this to be an effective channel to take.  Perhaps there needs to be more.  Perhaps there needs to be better explanations of what those studies really prove and how to embrace these new concepts for training.  Where are the champions of this?  The older generation did not learn that way, so it may be hard for them to teach that way.  It may be seen as “silly” or a waste of time, when they “should just learn it”.  It may just be “new” and therefore a threat to those who have held their positions for some time and are resistant to change their ways.  It may be the old “us versus them” as the generations change from subordinate to senior.


Engagement is the key.  However it occurs, the student, no matter the age, wants to know why this piece of information is important to truly know, to have learnt it, not just to be able to “google it” whenever the question comes up.  How will it assist in performing the role better?  How will it help the student?  How will it contribute to their work and progression through a career?  Just about anyone can learn like a parrot, by rote, and by having the knowledge drilled into them, rather like we used to with our times tables.  But to truly know something, to have learned, is entirely different to being able to recite facts.

It is up to the trainers, the training organizations themselves, to encourage learning through new and innovative methods if there is ever going to be the knowledge transfer that companies desire for their futures to be secure.


Becky Paroz is a qualified project manager with a particular emphasis on intergenerational knowledge exchange. Available for consultation, creation or just a good chat about development and engagement in the workplace, she can be contacted via email ([email protected]) or through her LinkedIn profile au.linkedin.com/in/beckyp99
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