How Will Corporate Training Evolve in 2024? Let’s talk about Experiential Learning and Technological Innovation
How corporate training has transformed in the past 12 months
As we step into 2024, the corporate training landscape seems to be pushing the path towards a thorough transformation of methods, tools and objectives.
We bet many of you will now be saying: gone are the days of traditional, information-heavy training methods! Well, not exactly, but certainly, traditional approaches are being increasingly replaced by experiential learning models – a paradigm where interactive, practical experiences take centre stage. The goals of corporate trainers, the technologies used in training, and the techniques used for assessing results are also changing accordingly.
We have data that speaks for itself:
- A report from the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) reveals that 60% of European companies now prioritise experiential learning in their training programs, compared to just 35% five years ago.
Take the example of Volkswagen, a leading automobile manufacturer in Germany that revolutionised its training approach by integrating Virtual Reality. Trainees now learn complex assembly processes in a virtual environment, resulting in a 40% increase in learning efficiency and a 30% reduction in training time. This hands-on, immersive experience has not only enhanced skill acquisition but also significantly reduced the costs associated with traditional training.
Image sourced from: Growth Engineering
- Similarly, in North America, a survey by the Association for Talent Development shows a 50% increase in investment in interactive, experiential learning tools compared to 2019.
One good example is the use of gamification in the banking sector. A growing number of banks in North America have been experimenting with the adoption of gamified learning platforms to train their employees. The engagement rate recorded a stark improvement from the traditional e-learning modules. With gamification, employees are allowed to engage in real-world scenarios, boosting both their problem-solving skills and their understanding of complex financial issues.
Image sourced from: Eastern Peak
What do these figures and examples tell us? They underscore two important things:
- First and foremost, the transformation in corporate training is ongoing, shifting from passive, information-based methods to dynamic, experiential learning.
- Second, they also tell us that the role of technology and community (which have jointly reshaped the training experience into something more dynamic, engaging, and effective) in this transformation is pivotal as catalysts in fostering environments where interactive and practical experiences are at the forefront of employees.
The topic is fascinating, isn’t it? But it is also filled with many unknowns. This is why we have decided to write a post about it. If you stay with us, we will first give you the opportunity to learn more about experiential learning and how it works. Then, we will help you to find out about the role of technology in learning, and finally, we’ll give you a chance to brainstorm with us about the future of corporate training.
Let us talk about the future: Experiential Learning
So, we said that experiential learning has emerged as a powerful alternative to traditional corporate training methods. We saw how the experiential approach emphasises active participation, hands-on experiences, and real-world problem-solving – and we briefly anticipated its many benefits: enhanced retention of knowledge, improved skill application, and a deeper understanding of complex concepts.
Let us explore the benefits of experiential learning a little further, and then let us see where and by whom it has been applied so far:
- First, experiential learning helps companies to better address current challenges related to work. Take the case of work-related stress, which affects about 22% of the workforce in Europe. The economic cost of lost working days due to work-related stress is substantial, exceeding €20 billion per year in Europe alone. Or take increased job mobility. The pandemic led to a dramatic increase in job resignations. In 2022, more than 40 million people in the United States quit their jobs, with significant resignation rates also observed in several European countries. This shift has made it imperative for companies to find and retain the right talents.
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- Second, it enhances employees’ networking and collaboration skills. In a recent post, we wrote about the challenges faced by post-graduates. We stressed the importance of networking as a key step to mature, both personally and professionally. Experiential learning plays a pivotal role in developing networking and collaboration skills.
Image sourced from: Itraining
- Third, it fosters employees’ creativity and problem-solving. For a long time, we thought that creativity was the prerogative of a few professional categories while commitment and dedication were required of all other workers. And we were wrong. Creativity is crucial precisely in order to educate workers capable of solving problems and of doing so constructively. In other posts on this blog, we have talked about the importance of being creative and empathetic.
Image sourced from: Bakadesuyo
Moving now to our second question: where and by whom experiential learning has been applied so far?
The most prominent example comes from Sweden, with later expansion to the UK, Brazil, Singapore, North America, and Asia Pacific. It is called Hyper Island Toolbox, and it focuses on stimulating individual creativity and increasing self-confidence, thereby improving team productivity. This is achieved through a two-phase method: practical, problem-based learning followed by collective reflection on the participants’ experiences. If you remember, we wrote already about this incredible learning tool, emphasising its potential for active learning.
Looking ahead to 2024 and beyond, the importance of continuous learning and specialisation in career advancement is underscored by the LinkedIn 2023 Workplace Learning Report. It projects that 94% of employees will be more likely to stay at a company that invests in their learning and development. This trend highlights the increasing demand for skills such as analytical thinking, management, digital literacy, creative thinking, and technological prowess, which are vital for adaptability in a rapidly changing job market.
Technology revolutionised everything, including learning
Wait a second. You might be thinking that we said there are two key drivers of corporate training transformation, right? So, where is the second? Experiential learning is one, and the other is…technology!
In 2024 and beyond, technologies such as Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Artificial Intelligence will be at the forefront of transforming training experiences at all levels.
If you don’t believe us, at least trust the data:
- Initially popularised in gaming and entertainment, VR has successfully transitioned into industries like healthcare, manufacturing, and construction. Its immersive nature aids in training new employees, refreshing old employees with standard procedures, and training high-value employees. Most importantly, Virtual Reality has proven effective in training both hard and soft skills. For hard skills, it provides hands-on experience in tasks like maintenance, repairs, and operating heavy equipment. For soft skills, it enhances leadership and interpersonal abilities.
Image sourced from: VirtualSpeech
- Augmented Reality, along with Virtual Reality, is becoming more prevalent in training, making learning more interactive and engaging. XR is particularly useful for training in resource-intensive competencies and potentially dangerous jobs like heavy equipment operation, aviation, and natural resource mining.
Image sourced from: RubyGarage
- Artificial Intelligence’s role in corporate training is growing due to its efficiency in creating personalised learning experiences. AI assesses a learner’s skill level and interests to tailor learning experiences. AI-powered chatbots provide round-the-clock support and virtual mentorship. Tools like Grammarly and Otter, both powered by AI, are already common in the workplace, indicating a growing trend of AI integration in professional environments. Furthermore, with advancements in AI technologies like ChatGPT, AI’s role in corporate training is expected to expand further, becoming more common in the workplace for various training.
Is it now clear to you why these technologies are so important for the transformation of corporate training? Because they create immersive and interactive environments that mirror real-life scenarios, allowing learners to practice and hone their skills in a safe yet realistic setting.
This is why staying abreast of these technological advancements is crucial for corporate training programs to be effective, offering a blend of innovation and practicality that traditional methods lack. Corporate training is also vital for keeping employees up-to-date with changes in industry rules, standards, and technologies. By staying current, employees can think more innovatively and incorporate new ideas into their work, which is crucial for companies in technology-driven industries.
Not to mention the fact that ineffective training techniques can have substantial financial implications for companies. A study found that such techniques could cost a company up to $13.5 million annually per 1,000 employees. This highlights the need for corporate training departments to carefully consider the guidance and learning styles of employees to maximise the effectiveness of training programs.
Modern facilitation techniques and their impact
At this point, it is likely that someone is wondering whether, with the growth of impact and usage of the technologies we’ve been describing, the future of corporate training will be more and more devoid of human beings.
The answer is no, not really. The human element remains crucial in training at all levels, not just corporate. Despite the digital shift, there are still significant growth opportunities for trainers and professionals in the field of corporate training.
The rise of digital technologies has not diminished the space for them; rather, it has opened new avenues for business development and differentiation in a competitive market. If anything, we could say that the role of facilitators and trainers in corporate training has evolved alongside these technological advancements.
What digital transformation has changed, in particular, is the way training content is delivered. Microlearning, gamification, personalisation, and mobile accessibility have become key trends. This evolution is ongoing as remote training becomes the norm and new technologies emerge.
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There are organisations like Talent Garden that have incorporated this philosophy in full, and they now approach training by maximising learning outcomes through active facilitation and by emphasising community building and collaborative problem-solving. Talent Garden designed its corporate educational offer with the aim of empowering its partners to achieve their goals, acquire new skills, and attract the best and most talented professionals to bring about strategic and cultural change. Corporate training at Talent Garden is based on the ABC philosophy: Attract (professionals and students at all stages of their careers), Build (upskilling, reskilling, and focused learning), Cooperate (through a community of over 4,500 professionals within a network of campuses in 7 countries).
Other companies have occasionally experimented with more creative and innovative approaches. For example:
- Heineken implemented a unique reverse mentoring program in which junior employees mentor senior leaders and executives. This approach provides leadership with fresh perspectives on the future of work and areas for growth. Heineken also runs a global diversity and inclusion program aimed at empowering colleagues to practice inclusion and embrace diversity across the various countries where the company is.
- Cooley, a global law firm, has been recognised multiple times as one of the best law firms for women and diversity. They have created the Cooley Academy Mentoring Program to improve their onboarding process. This virtual mentoring program aims to pair new employees with experienced individuals for more efficient knowledge transfer and integration into the firm.
- Amazon offers extensive training to new hires, including the Career Choice program that provides educational benefits to hourly employees. They also have a $700 million initiative to retrain 100,000 team members, providing access to technical skills training through programs like the Amazon Technical Academy.
Corporate Training: Challenges and Solutions
If there is one conclusion we could draw from the many examples and data that have been analysed so far, it is that adopting new training methods within existing corporate structures requires a strategic approach. It involves, in other words, addressing potential resistance to change, aligning training goals with business objectives, and ensuring that the new methods are scalable and sustainable.
Before concluding, we would like to pause for a moment on this very aspect: anticipating and overcoming challenges such as technological limitations or budget constraints is key to successful implementation. This transition, while challenging, offers long-term benefits in terms of employee engagement and skill.
The main challenges of implementing experiential and technology-driven training methods include:
- Ensuring technological compatibility. In a recent survey by Training Magazine, it was reported that 59% of organisations faced technical issues with online training. Imagine a multinational corporation with employees from various regions who may have different levels of access to high-speed internet and modern devices, leading to disparities in training effectiveness.
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- Managing costs. The Association for Talent Development found that companies spend an average of $1,252 per employee on training, with technology-based training often incurring additional costs for software and hardware. Small businesses are those struggling most of the time, with the high initial costs of implementing technology-driven training solutions. For example, a small retail chain wanting to implement Virtual Reality-based training may find the cost of the headsets and software development.
Image sourced from: Elmlearning
- Aligning new training methods with diverse learning styles. A study by the Journal of Educational Psychology suggests that individuals have varied learning preferences, and a one-size-fits-all approach can be ineffective. Imagine the case of a tech company that introduced an AI-driven learning platform for its employees. While it was effective for visual and kinesthetic learners, auditory learners found it less engaging. This may force the company to a revision of the training approach to include podcasts and interactive audio.
- Assessing the effectiveness of learning via innovative tools. To evaluate the effectiveness of new approaches in corporate training, traditional tools are no longer valid. Innovative approaches have to be evaluated through various metrics and feedback mechanisms. These include learner engagement levels, skill application in real-world scenarios, and improvements in job performance. Regular feedback and continuous improvement are also essential in refining these training programs.
What’s next in corporate training?
We started by saying that 2023 has been a transformative year for corporate training. What’s beyond the corner? Let us conclude with a selection of 7 key trends we believe will impact crucially on the transformation of the corporate training market in 2024 and beyond. Taken together, these trends demonstrate a dynamic and rapidly evolving corporate training environment, heavily influenced by technological advancements, changing workforce demographics, and shifting societal values. Companies in both Europe and North America are adapting their training strategies to align with these trends, ensuring that their workforce remains skilled, adaptable, and resilient.
- First is the further hybridisation of learning models. A blend of online and in-person training is becoming the norm. This approach caters to different learning styles and offers flexibility. LinkedIn Learning report suggested that 73% of training professionals planned to continue with hybrid learning models.
- Second is an increased focus on soft skills and development. There’s an increasing emphasis on developing soft skills like leadership, communication, and emotional intelligence. According to the World Economic Forum, 91% of HR professionals in Europe anticipate soft skills being equally or more important than hard
- Third consists of continuous use of advanced technologies. As we said, Artificial intelligence, Virtual Reality, and Augmented Reality R are being increasingly integrated into training programs for immersive and personalised training.
- Fourth relates to microlearning. Short, focused learning modules will be preferred for their convenience and higher retention rates. Microlearning seems to improve focus and retention by 20%.
- Fifth emphasises employee well-being and mental health. Training programs increasingly include components that address mental health, stress management, and work-life balance. The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work reported that 79% of European managers are concerned about stress at work.
- Sixth is data-driven and personal learning. Leveraging data analytics to tailor training programs to individual learning styles and needs. According to Deloitte, 58% of companies in North America are investing in learning technology and data analysis.
- Seventh and final is sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Training programs are increasingly incorporating sustainability and CSR, reflecting broader corporate goals and social awareness.