70:20:10 model has its weaknesses, says academic

by L&D02 Mar 2016
L&D Professional talks to workplace learning expert Professor Michele Simons of The University of Western Sydney for her insights.

LDP: What are your thoughts on the 70:20:10 model? Do you think it is relevant in the workplace today?

MS: The people in the (original survey of which the three numbers are based) were talking about how they think they learned and I think that that may not be as widespread now as it would have been back then. I think that just having a group of people say this is how they approximately think they learned is not very accurate.

It’s often very hard to answer the question of how you learnt something on the job. You might have experimented, worked alongside somebody else, read the manual and done other things as well. I think it’s very difficult for people to portion out this much for this type of learning and this much for this type.

This model doesn’t say anything about what’s the best way to learn or what would be the most efficient way to learn or things like that.

Often the combination of learning on the job and learning away from the job does have its benefits. We’ve had occupations who have used that combination for years and it’s been quite successful.

LDP: What do you see as some of the most interesting aspects of L&D at the moment?

MS: One of the things is looking at how we can make L&D or training in the workplace more effective. One of the challenges is that workplaces are workplaces so the business has to run and customers need to be serviced. The way in which learning can be fitted into work often becomes a challenge.

And while there is the opportunity to go into a training room that can result in downtime for organisations. Some of that is increasingly being mediated by the use of technology to assist learning at work, but there still remains this tension between having sufficient learning to help employees grow, while also balancing the needs of actually running business.

LDP: Do you think that is going to continue into the future?

MS: Yes, I think so. I think one of the really exciting things is the ways in which technology is going to be able to help us to learn in workplaces. I think we can’t imagine the ways in which technology could help us do that. For example, it could be by remote coaching and other sorts of things.

And so one of the challenges is always going to be how we use that technology, but also that that technology might only be accessible to large businesses or medium-sized enterprises. Often it’s the smaller microbusinesses which have few employees who equally need to learn to make sure they are up to date with their product knowledge and all of those things. Then how can you support those people to continually grow and improve their businesses? 


Why on the job learning isn’t always superior