We have all heard about—and many of us have experienced—the skills gap within manufacturing.
First off, it’s real. And with new technology coming out as part of Industry 4.0, it will continue to widen if we don’t do something about it. I have been following this issue closely, which is why we partnered with Steve Trautman last year to talk about the importance of knowledge transfer.
Fortunately, there is a learning strategy that can help you deal with the skills gap and overcome some of the training issues you may be facing. This strategy is called microlearning.
Microlearning isn’t new. In fact, it has been around for centuries. It’s how we teach our kids when they are little. The basic concept is that we break everything down into smaller bits and repeat them over and over, which helps with learning and reinforcement.
For example, when talking to an infant, we don’t say, “Mommy is the most important person in your life.” Instead, we repeatedly say, “Mommy.” Once the child has that part down, we move on to the next tidbit of learning.
Before training your employees, analyze the task, skill, or job, and break it down into smaller bits. Then, teach those micro bits in a logical and systematic way. Teach in a way that the first learned skill is the foundation, and then build on it by delivering the rest in sequence.
Microlearning should be delivered with these thoughts in mind:
Here are some tools that complement microlearning:
In addition to making training easier to deliver, these tools can be used to provide real-time feedback regarding what a trainee has learned, retained, or needs help with.
Bob Pike, who specializes in training trainers, suggests that content be broken into 20-minute intervals with interaction every 8 minutes.
When a trainee struggles, you can use a tutor-style support system to provide additional coaching. When choosing a trainer, keep in mind that the person who best understands the task may not be the best trainer. You need someone who can interact well with a variety of personalities and learning styles. Be aware of this when you select your trainer.
I believe microlearning can help your workforce gain new skills, increasing their value to your organization and helping you deal with the skills gap in a more effective way.