The skills your employees possess are the foundation for your organisation running successfully. Understanding how to transfer these skills across the organisation will help you tap into hidden potential and create a stronger, more adaptable workforce.

For effective skills transfer, research shows people need access to learning opportunities that are:

  • engaging
  • relevant
  • contextualised

Unfortunately, this is difficult to attain and conventional learning and development methods often struggle to achieve skills transfers across their people.

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4 drawbacks of formal training delivery

Would you explain to someone how to drive a car with classroom training and expect them to parallel park afterwards…? You’d probably agree, that’s a bad idea!

1. Formal training does not allow learners to apply theories in a real life situation.

Learning about something in a classroom setting is a stark contrast to a work environment, where different variables affect performance. Imagine the difficulty of driving in rush hour and how this would differ from driving being explained in a classroom setting.  

2.The teaching style is designed for the masses rather than tailored to the individual.

Each employee will have different experience and skills to share and develop.

3.There is a low rate of application into practice.

Learners display high levels of understanding after being presented with a theory, which lures training teams to believe they are being effective. In actuality, less than 5% of course attendees implement what they have learnt through a presentation style classroom training only approach (Joyce and Showers, 2002).

4.Time and cost constraints.

It can be expensive and time-consuming to mobilise groups of people to attend formal training.


The skills transfer process

The 70.20.10 model is much talked about amongst learning and development (L&D) professionals in terms of providing more contextualised learning experiences:

  • 70% – of our learning comes from challenging assignments and on-the-job experiences.
  • 20% – of our learning is developed from our relationships with other people, our networks and the feedback we receive.
  • 10% – of our learning comes from formal training, such as courses, workshops and programmes.

This reinforces research into skills transfer which demonstrates that to sustainably implement a skill, these 4 activities are crucial:    

  • Seeing authentic examples of practice in context  
  • Understanding the theory behind the practice
  • Practising in context and getting feedback
  • Working collaboratively in context to refine skills over time

4 tips for successful skills transfer

1. Have an online community where employees can see real-life examples of best working practices creates a collaborative learning space.

2. Give employees opportunities to learn theory in personalised ways ensures deeper understanding. An online repository allows employees to dip in and out at times that suit them and does not cause conflict with other work responsibilities.

3. Provide opportunities that allow employees to self-reflect, enable them to see their strengths and identify areas that could do with improvement. Encouraging people to record themselves with video to be able to review and analyse their own performance is a powerful learning opportunity.  

4. Use technology as a platform for staff to work together and share ideas avoids impact on day-to-day scheduling. Using technology also maximises time efficiency and allows employees to connect regardless of distance.    

Maximising skills transfer for your organisation is an ongoing process that doesn’t stop – it should be continuous and refined over time. This will lead to a more adaptive workforce that is able to change and learn new skills quickly and effectively.

Skill transitions benefit both the employer and employee. To understand the holistic approaching for implementing new skills download the White paper: Vision for Learning Organisations.

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4 tips for successful skills transfer
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