Adult Learning

Editor's Note: Use effective methods and tools when training adult workers.

Marta MoakleyOverview: One way to promote employee development is to support and encourage adult learning. Adult learners actively use their experiences and already-acquired skills in obtaining new information through educational forums and training. While youth learners may require more direction in selecting training subjects and designing their curriculums, adult learners seek to improve their employability by choosing courses and experiences that will add to their existing knowledge, skills and abilities. Adult learners may be more skeptical regarding new information, but tend to be self-directed in their completion of tasks.

In deciding how to train employees, employers may be faced with budgetary restrictions regarding whether to conduct the training internally (using in-house attorneys or HR) or externally (using consultants). Because adult learners tend to be self-directed and proactive in their knowledge acquisition, employers may confidently use any number of service providers (internal or external) and formats (whether live training or webinars) to achieve their training goals.

Trends: Those employees terminated from organizations as a result of mergers, downsizing or other corporate restructuring efforts may experience difficulty in finding available work opportunities. Federal and state workforce development offices have sponsored a number of initiatives related to retraining workers in fields with a higher likelihood of employability, such as in developing sustainable industries. In addition, a number of corporations have partnered with postsecondary educational institutions to launch high-profile workforce retraining initiatives.

Author: Marta Moakley, JD, Legal Editor

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