Training Generation Y

overcoming training obstaclesGeneration Y (also known as the Millennial Generation) are the demographic cohort with birth years ranging from the early 1980s to the early 2000s. It is often assumed by organisations that their younger workers prefer, and so benefit most from, online training. However, new research shows this may not be true.

Born between the advent of the Walkman and the founding of Google, the members of Generation Y have, unsurprisingly, been shaped by technology. Therefore, it would not be unreasonable to assume that they would prefer technological approaches to learning and development in the work place. However, a study from the CIPD, which examined the challenges of developing 16-24-year-olds in the workplace, revealed that online training was, in fact, their least favourite way to learn.

The reason behind this, perhaps surprising, conclusion was that Generation Y has very high expectations of technology and quickly become frustrated and bored with what is often provided as “on-line learning”

So how can we provide effective training for generation Y employees? The answer is to follow the principles of interactive training as used by Spearhead Training in the design of the training you provide. These principles are:

1. Start by understanding the skills and knowledge you need to build
Without an effective training needs analysis of the skills and knowledge gap of your young employees for the positions they are in, or are being developed for, your training efforts will be at best "hit and miss".

A study by Ashridge Business School identified that those in Generation Y often require training to develop their self-awareness, analytical thinking and emotional intelligence. Other key skills to include in their development are communication skills, teamwork, time management and financial awareness.

2. Choose the right training delivery method.
The CIPD’s study found that Generation Y employees want a practical and entertaining learning experience. They want to work collaboratively with others and receive constructive feedback from the trainer. They, therefore, have a strong preference for face-to-face training. Classroom-based training which uses a variety of interactive exercises, simulations, and opportunities for group work and discussions led by an expert tutor is key if the interactivity and feedback Generation Y craves is to be achieved.

3. Ensure learning is a continuous process – not a one off event
Generation Y prefer to look for information when they need it, rather than memorising knowledge. Having course support materials that are instantly available helps Generation Y employees to take greater responsibility for their own continuous learning and so improves their performance in the work place.

Not just Generation Y…

whilst this article focuses on Generation Y, the key principles for developing people which are described above are essentially the same whatever the age of your employees. People want to learn job-relevant skills in an engaging training environment with expert tutors to guide them, and be supported by materials that they can access whenever they need them.