Magazine article Talent Development

Informal Learning Is Vital to Workforce Development: Specifically, Cross-Generational Mentoring Is a Key Strategy

Magazine article Talent Development

Informal Learning Is Vital to Workforce Development: Specifically, Cross-Generational Mentoring Is a Key Strategy

Article excerpt

With four generations, an influx of new employees, and more experienced professionals working longer hours, a greater variety of skills, talent, and experiences are represented in today's workforce than ever before. And as the makeup of the workforce evolves, so should companies' approaches to training and development.

While formal learning will continue to be central to professional development, the diversity of the future workforce elevates the need to further embrace informal learning. Recent research emphasizes the social aspect of learning--individuals drive learning, of course, but they also share knowledge with one another to help the organization learn. To capitalize on the range of ideas exchanged within today's diverse workforce, the fostering of informal learning is vital.

The key is for organizations to strike a proper balance between formal and informal learning. With traditional learning--classroom-led or formalized content--usually comprising approximately 20 percent of a given workforce's education, it is imperative that organizations identify real-time, hands-on informal learning experiences for the other 80 percent.

There are numerous opportunities for informal learning activities, as represented in AchieveGlobal's i-2-i continuum that ranks these activities from intentional to incidental based on their structure and purpose.

One activity on the continuum, mentoring, is perhaps the oldest form of informal learning and meets a range of task, career, and psychosocial needs. …

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