Business moves at an incredibly fast pace. Because of this, more emphasis is being put on innovation and experiential learning in the workplace – two things that the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) does very well.
Experiential learning is essentially learning from experience or learning by doing. Much of the business world subscribes to the 70/20/10 learning model which suggests that people learn about 70 per cent of their jobs informally through experience, 20 per cent through relationships and 10 per cent through formal training methods. For most organizations, this means purposefully designing learning experiences to accelerate skill and competency development, to allow its human resource pool to grow quickly – at the pace of business.
There are a number of reasons why the business world relies on experiential learning:
1. It teaches what is required for real-world success. Authentic experiential learning creates an invaluable opportunity to prepare for the future. SRC’s Take Our Kid’s to Work day program gives grade 9 students the opportunity to learn real-life skills by putting ideas into practice with hands-on learning.
2. It is easily adaptive. Constructed experiences can be adapted to address the personal adult learning styles of the participants. Some people are visual learners, some prefer action learning.
3. It is cost-effective. External training and education can be both expensive and difficult to assess the transfer of that training to the job.
4. It is efficient. With experiential learning, employees are actively working and contributing while learning at the same time versus taking time away from the job to sit in a classroom. SRC’s Engineer-in-Training program provides young engineers with the opportunity to learn through mentorship and on-the-job experience.
5. It motivates. Employees become motivated when they are provided opportunities for practice and feedback, along with learning experiences that they see the relevance of.
6. It produces self-directed learners. Through experiential learning, employees are challenged with unfamiliar situations and tasks which they must learn to navigate.
7. It inspires engagement. When employees take control of their own learning experiences, this creates highly engaged learners.
8. It supports diversity. Experiential learning acknowledges differences and builds experiences that can maximize learning. SRC recently launched an Aboriginal Mentorship Program that focuses on encouraging participation of Aboriginals in science, technology, engineering and math related disciplines. Students enrolled in the program get to put their theory they have learned in school into practice with a summer job at SRC.
Any employee learns over time by doing a job. The challenge for business is to have them learn more in a planned manner by creating a custom experience to accelerate learning to keep up with the fast pace of business.
Rebecca Gotto is a communicator at the Saskatchewan Research Council with strengths in both media and government relations. Rebecca leads SRC’s award-winning Take Our Kids to Work day program and SRC’s new Aboriginal Mentorship Program.