Millennials and Workplace Learning: How Experiential Learning Can Help Close the Gap

Experiential learning offers the flexible, on-the-go learning Millennials prefer and the up-to-date content employers require.

With Baby Boomers retiring, more Millennials are entering the workforce, and their sheer numbers give weight to their preferences. According toGlassdoor, Millennials prefer to work with organizations that give them the ability to learn and progress. This might be in part due to a dynamic work environment in which technology changes frequently. Millennials, therefore, are upskilling to remain on par with industry expectations.

This preference for employers who offer upskilling options has prompted organizations to rethink their learning and development strategies. Organizations now are devising new ways to engage Millennials and upskill them, using approaches that engage the Millennial learner, including experiential learning.

What Is Experiential Learning?

Unlike traditional learning methods with the instructor playing an active role while the learner was passive, experiential learning enables learners to participate and play an active role in learning. People often learn better this way. As Confucius oncesaid,“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” Experiential learning includes techniques such as simulating a real-world situation for understanding problem-solving, and gamification, a method of grouping employees into different groups to interact and compete with each other. Experiential learning has paved the way for organizations to engage their employees in continuous learning.

Millennials Are Transforming How Content Is Taught

In a global survey conducted by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte, 70 percent of the CEO confirmed their organizations do not have the skills to adapt to the constant changes in technology. That’s because what was disruptive yesterday has become obsolete today, which should compel the present workforce to continuously upskill every 12 to 18 months to remain relevant in their industries. However, the traditional learning system is not well-equipped to meet this need, a need driven by the constant changes in technology.

The need for continuous learning, therefore, has led to the growth of the online learning industry: using technology to facilitate education and learning. Online training programs are frequently updated, helping learners to also stay up to date. In addition, edtech learning is flexible, enabling the anywhere, anytime learning Millennials want. This gives them access to learning apps on their mobile phones and also gives them the flexibility to learn at their own pace and when it is convenient for them.

Millennials grew up with the Internet and smartphones, so experiential learning is not transforming the way Millennials learn, but rather adapting to it and changing how learning is offered.

3 Kinds of Experiential Learning

Although many organizations recognize the need to upskill employees—and the Millennials’ desire for learning opportunities—most are unprepared to do so. In one study, 45 percent of the executives interviewed by Deloitte admitted they are unable to meet the increasing learning demands of their employees.

Experiential learning can help organizations to meet the learning demands without spending a lot of money and resources on planning and implementation. Three popular types of experiential learning are:

  • Simulation: Simulation is a technique that simulates a real-world situation to which the learner reacts.
  • Gamification: A popular concept in organizations, gamification engages learners through interactive games and quizzes that help them learn lessons in a fun way.
  • Learning Management Systems (LMS): An advanced LMS can propel learning among employees, and social sharing can encourage employees to participate in collaborative learning.

Millennial employees want to learn. Their employers want to enable that learning. And experiential learning through online courses can help make it possible, in a manner that offers the flexible, on-the-go learning Millennials prefer and the up-to-date content employers require.

Krishna Kumar is the founder and CEO of Simplilearn, a leading training certification provider. The company providesonline training in disciplines such as Cyber Security, Cloud Computing, Project Management, Digital Marketing, and Data Science, among others. Before Simplilearn, Kumar was the co-founder and COO at TechUnified, a software product company he exited successfully in 2007 after selling it to a publicly held company. Kumar earned his Bachelor of Engineering degree from NIT, Surathkal, India. For more information, visit:


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