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Training Classroom vs Workplace

October 14, 2019

Learning and development are vital tools in driving employee performance and motivation, yet it’s something businesses continue to get wrong, according to Charles Jennings of the 70:20:10 Institute.


When it comes to learning, there is no doubt a place for the classroom, but we need to move away from the use of formal, structured learning as our main development tool and instead invest more money in on-the-job development.


This is the view of Charles Jennings (pictured right), co-founder of the UK-based 70:20:10 Institute, who recently presented a series of workshops in Australia and New Zealand on this topic.


The 70:20:10 framework is a model that has been developed by Jennings and others into a strategy to improve the impact of learning through working. It is based on a rule of thumb, borne out by evidence, that most learning occurs as part of daily workflow, through experience, practice, conversations, and reflection.


The numbers refer to the fact that:


Formal training in the classroom or online contributes approximately 10% to effective performance in the workplace.


Development through Relationships such as coaching, mentoring, support from exemplary performers and collaborating contributes approximately 20% to effective performance in the workplace.


Learning on the job contributes approximately 70% to effective performance in the workplace.


“Clearly these numbers are not hard-and-fast,” Jennings says. “They will vary depending on types of work, the nature of demands for official certification and other factors, but research from a number of academics and workplace studies reinforce the original studies into the major factors driving high performance in the manager population.


“And yet despite the 70:20:10 approach now being accepted as conventional wisdom, businesses continue to invest the majority of their L&D budgets on formal training rather than much more effective on-the-job development activities.


“Professor Andries de Grip, Director of the Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market in The Netherlands, has also shown that about 96 per cent of learning time for adults is in the workplace while just 4 per cent is in formally structured learning,” he said.


Formal training has its place, but it will never produce high performance.


“In the past, when we were talking about L&D, we would identify a problem and then develop a solution for it which is usually based on the ‘10’, or formal training.”


Jennings tells The Brief he worked with researcher Jay Cross who believes that most people cannot separate “learning from schooling”, and that in the workplace, managers and others assume formal training is usually the answer to performance problems.


“They believe they need to be in a classroom or a formally structured setting to be learning, while discounting the value of on-the-job learning,” he says. “When, actually, we learn more from work than we do away from work.”


The closer to the point of use the learning occurs, the more likely it is to be useful.


Jennings’ interest in workplace learning and development was p