The benefits of 70/20/10 learning

You may be familiar with the 70/20/10 model of workplace learning – it’s been around for a couple of decades. First published by Michael Lombardo and Robert Eichinger in 1996, in The Career Architect Development Planner, it’s based a survey of 200 executives, who self-reported on how they thought they learned. It suggests that the most effective organisational approach to learning comprises 70% experience and practice, 20% through other people, and 10% in the classroom.

Despite a number of criticisms, the model has continued to be something L&D practitioners often aspire to. It fits very neatly with the concept of a learning culture, in which learning transforms from something that people have ‘done’ to them into something that people do all the time, whenever and however they want.

A culture of learning

One key finding from our Human to Hybrid research is the challenges organisations face when creating a strong learning culture. This can have a monumental impact on workforce engagement, retention and productivity – and meets the 70 and 20 criteria of the 70/20/10 model with its emphasis on gaining practice and experience and having coaching conversations. And our research shows business leaders regard it as their number one priority on the journey to a hybrid workforce.

91% of business leaders say it’s important to improve learnability – people’s desire to constantly upgrade their skills and expand their knowledge without waiting for an invitation from their employer – at all levels of the organisation and 88% say it’s important to upskill employees in new areas/emerging job categories. Employees agree – 44% say the key benefit of moving to a hybrid workforce is the opportunity to learn new skills.

Learnability and a culture of learning will be vital in this new world of work because people will be taking on new roles and will need new skills to fill them successfully, and they’ll have to be able to thrive in a constantly changing environment.

The vital role of line managers

But few organisations have so far succeeded in developing the learning behaviours they want to see in their workforces, and most are now struggling to implement the structures, platform and leadership to drive change. This is despite 84% of L&D leaders stating that learning works best when it is integrated into daily work.

An even bigger number of these L&D leaders – 92% - say that line managers have a vital role to play in achieving this, by instilling and maintaining a culture of learning, and our research shows that line managers are ready to step up. They’re ready to take responsibility for upskilling and developing their teams, and to become the gatekeepers to success for people and organisations.

Learning is increasingly being devolved into the business, to be managed and monitored there rather than within the HR or L&D department, and line managers are being called on to create a positive culture of learning within their teams that supports learnability.

A focus on apprenticeships

This is where apprenticeships come in. They also fit with the 70/20/10 model, comprising a large amount of learning on the job, supplemented with help from a coach or mentor (usually the apprentice’s line manager) and learning at college or in some other formal learning environment. They’re widely acknowledged to produce employees who are committed to learning – crucial to success in the hybrid workforce – creative, innovative and engaged, and are a fantastic way for employers to develop the skills they need internally, rather than having to ‘buy them in’.

Apprenticeships used to be aimed at school leavers – those who weren’t academically-inclined and wanted to learn a trade. These days, however, there are apprenticeships in all sorts of subjects and at different levels. These range from intermediate apprenticeships (equivalent to five GCSEs) right up to those providing a full bachelor’s or master’s degree. Anyone can be an apprentice, at any time of life and at any stage of their career – there’s no such thing as a ‘typical’ apprentice any more.

But, despite all this, there’s still a perception that apprenticeships are ‘just for kids’. A recent survey by Jobrapido revealed that, while more than half (52%) of workers surveyed would readily embark on an apprenticeship if it could support a career change or move them to a different industry sector, 32% believe they’re too old and that apprenticeships are for 16- to 24-year-olds. A quarter felt that they had too much career experience to become apprentices.

This doesn’t bode well for success in the future world of work. 30% of the business leaders who took part in our Human to Hybrid research said reskilling their workforce was one of the main problems associated with moving to a hybrid workforce. Apprenticeships could be a big part of the answer to that problem but to be truly effective they must present every part of the workforce with an opportunity to develop the right skills for success. This is particularly important since our Human to Hybrid research revealed that business leaders think people in their 40s (34%), 50s (23%) and 60s (25%) are most likely to struggle in the hybrid workforce.

Widening apprenticeships’ appeal

If your organisation has apprentices, what can you do to make sure that employees aren’t labouring under any misconceptions about whether apprenticeships are suitable for them and that you’re making the most of every opportunity to close skills gaps now and in the future, involving people right across the organisation regardless of their age or career stage?

One thing you can do is take a leaf out of your marketing colleagues’ playbook and market your apprenticeship programme to the rest of the organisation, highlighting the different levels of apprenticeships that are available and demonstrating – especially to older, more experienced colleagues – how they can be a great way to acquire new skills and perhaps even take their careers in a new direction.

Rebranding your apprenticeships programme as an academy or corporate university can help to combat the idea that it’s learning for young people only and open every employee’s eyes to the benefits of 70/20/10-style skills development.

Find out more about how apprenticeships can meet future skills needs and how to support your line managers and learners in making them a success by downloading our latest insight.

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