The 3 ways people REALLY learn on the job.

The 70-20-10 model is a recognised approach to HOW WE LEARN AT WORK, and it is used in many organisations all over the world. Although it is almost 40 years old, the model is still APPLICABLE today.

The model reflects the increasing awareness that one can learn by “doing” and not just by “knowing”. Furthermore, the model reinforces a common-sense approach: most of the knowledge, skills and behaviors needed to perform jobs can be learned through actual experience and working alongside others – and not in the classroom.

  • 70% Learning and development comes from experience (on-the-job)

  • 20% Learning and development through others (social learning – mentoring, feedback and relationships with colleagues)

  • 10% Learning and development through structured training (training sessions, formal learning)

The 70:20:10 model shows that learning is more than just traditional classes. Several platforms are needed to make training work. It is to be noted that this model is not about the exact percentages but about the balance. In real life, the breakdown may be closer to 40% formal, 20% social, and 40% experiential. Thanks to modern technology, the 70:20:10 framework can applied in a very flexible manner.

THE 70-20-10 MODEL:


  1. Virtual Reality - Virtual reality is an ideal solution for corporate training. With VR, individuals can practice their skills until they are confident in them, and then start the job with confidence. Students face a more realistic scenario

  2. Augmented Reality - Augmented reality can drive employee engagement just as much as virtual reality but it is much more affordable. For example, learners can scan certain areas of an engine with their mobile devices to see overlaid content, such as video, images, and text explanations on how to conduct simple maintenance procedures.

  3. Game-based learning - Games are a good tool for learning. They present a person with a challenge and make them develop their skills.

  4. Interactive video - This approach provides open situations for the learner to make decisions and reflect on the process. The interaction comes from places in the video where there is a choice to be made. The learner’s prior knowledge and decisions result in meaningful consequences.

  5. Social media - People use social media not only for personal communication but also for professional and pedagogical purposes. For example, with Facebook, you can create discussion groups for sharing information about a project, carry out surveys to get feedback and suggestions on training courses; create closed or secret groups and upload course material and assignments.

  6. eLearning - eLearning technology is making traditional corporate learning a thing of the past. Compared to instructor-led training, online learning is more beneficial - it saves your company money, allows you to personalize the learning process, and boosts employee morale. Access to up-to-date information is assured.

  7. Blended learning - Blended learning is a formal educational program that combines traditional teaching methods with digital learning.

  8. Webinars - Web video conferencing is a powerful way to promote blended social learning. Many webinar platforms support live video, text chat interactive whiteboards, note-taking, real-time voting/surveys/quizzes, and PowerPoint slides. Sessions can be recorded.

  9. Mobile learning - training doesn’t have to stop after working hours. Employees value the ability to learn anytime and anywhere.

  10. Talent Management systems that allow for Short-term Assignments or Gigs - most companies make use of Gig's to offer employees new ways of learning skills within the organization that they might have previously not have had access to. The latest talent management software allow of the creation of gigs as a standard part of the offering.

Yellow Seed recently concluded a large learning strategy project for one of the largest companies in South Africa. The purpose of the project was to define a new way of learning for the entire organization going forward and to provide solutions of how this learning strategy could be deployed and how the company would have to adapt in order to do so effectively. This project covered an overall review of all available technology on the market that could assist the company to adapt to the new way of work. We learned a lot from this project, but our biggest take away was not related to any new technology or method. Our biggest learning was to ensure that an initial philosophy of learning is adopted by the organization before launching into new learning programs or establishing expensive infra-structure. This philosophy is what we call the "learner for life" program. Teach employees to value learning on its own and come to understand its benefits before shoveling content.

In conclusion, the model helps us to understand that employees are always learning. Regardless of where they are picking up skills and in what percentage, the model explains that it is important to get a mixture of learning opportunities because employees can learn different things from different sources.

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