Training Industry

Arts-Based Learning: An Answer for Millennial Training

  • Arts-Based Learning: An Answer for Millennial Training

As the millennials begin to overtake the workforce, it’s time to rethink the way we provide learning to our organizations. Millennials are the generation born between 1981 and 1999, and according to PricewaterhouseCoopers, they are expected to make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025. In many companies, they already account for up to 80 percent of the employee population.

A new study by Instructure, the creators of the corporate LMS Bridge, asked managers about hiring practices and employee competence. Of those surveyed, 54 percent said entry-level employees (a.k.a. millennials) were only “somewhat prepared” to contribute to a company immediately. Which begs the question: How do you work with millennials to train and engage them once they’re on board?

There has been a lot of research on how millennials learn, and the highlights are threefold. Millennials are said to be experiential, engaging and interactive. They are accustomed to relating to and collaborating with others through technology, but they prefer to collaborate and work in teams with their generational peers. To engage them in learning, we must keep their attention and provide opportunities for them to interact.

We’ve all heard groans when training and development are mentioned. The good news is that you’re far less likely to hear them from millennials. In a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, millennials rated training and development as their most highly valued employee benefit. In fact, training and development outranked cash bonuses by a whopping 300 percent.

Millennials are largely visual learners. This shouldn’t be surprising, given that they grew up using computers, watching TV and playing video games. They are active learners – driven by curiosity, discovery and exploration – with short attention spans. Research has shown that they like video clips (watching the learning situation play out), a mixture of activities and live problem-solving. Arts-based training can give you all three.

In a recent Cisco study of millennial executives, 87 percent said they believe video has a significant and positive impact on organizational learning. What if you took that video content and made it live acting, with real-time interaction with the characters? Participants would be able to learn from the advice and direction given to actors and by watching that direction and advice play out in front of them! This type of interaction helps keep millennial minds fresh as they regularly switch between different tasks.

What if participants created art as a way to embed the learning and activate both the right and left sides of their brains? Multi-tasking learning is something that millennials do well, and art gives them a visual reminder of what they have learned.

Driven to take the workplace by storm in skills, not just numbers, millennials rank leadership, public speaking, self-confidence building and team management as their most desired training topics. Fortunately, these topics are all very well suited for arts-based training.

Pam Burgess

With over 20 years of experience in talent management, Pam Burgess has built a deep expertise in the fields of learning and development, talent management, and organizational development. She is currently co-owner and managing partner of Prequel Coaching and Development and its partner company Concentric Learning and Development, an arts and performance-based business. Pam graduated from Saginaw Valley State University with a BA in communication with a focus on organizational communication. She is a master certified trainer in many soft skills and management programs working with all levels and functions of an organization in over 15 countries.

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