In-the-job Learning

By David James, Director of Learning, OD and Talent for The Walt Disney Company, EMEA


Articles about the future of the workplace really excite me!

When I read about 'virtual presence' and super-flexible workforces it makes me want to hop in the Delorean and live it now.

I feel fortunate that I'm leading a project at Disney around Futures Thinking in which we make it our business to map emerging trends into possible future scenarios that may well affect our business and workforce in the years to come.

This all has me transport my thinking to the future of organisational learning and how we might evolve to support new contexts.

The internet and the Information-Age brought us just-in-time access to knowledge and know-how.  Web 2.0 has brought us together and enabled greater collaboration and knowledge-sharing.  Now we're entering an age of greater technological integration and the internet-of-things that could really disrupt organisational learning for the better.

For years we've heard that on-the-job is the most effective method of learning but more and more I've been wondering how we might take this one step further and integrate Learning & Development interventions into the actual work itself. What I mean by this is, whilst 'on-the-job' learning is about doing the job and taking the learning from the experience, 'in-the-job' learning would be content, practice and assessment engineered into the role itself.  

Would we then become Learning Engineers?

I can imagine that it's going to be an upstart company like Codecademy who do this first.  Learners on their courses undertake lessons that demonstrate how to write increasingly sophisticated code using predesigned examples. I'm sure it won't be long before they're guiding their learners through the development of their own websites, while they're taking their lessons - rather than just running through practice scenarios.

Imagine this in your workplace and what you might want to programme as lessons.

I'm not suggesting that in-the-job learning would become the answer and replace other forms of development (we've heard that one before) but with access to so much free learning online and an increasingly more sophisticated learner, there seems to be an opportunity for us to support organisational learning and add value in new ways - and maybe this will be 'in-the-job'.

Furthermore, everyone knows how difficult it is for employees to commit time and attention to learning when work pressures are high. What I like about this is that they won't need to STOP business FOR development.

So this is one thought I have about the future of learning and you'll have your own.

One thing's for sure, the world of work will continue to evolve and we need to ensure that we progress at a pace to remain relevant.

You can find out more about David on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter @DavidInLearning. David is also a member of the CIPD Leaders in Learning Group.

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  • Definitely time to build learning 'into' day to day activities.

  • It may seem a small difference in wording between "on-the-job" and "in-the-job" but on deeper reflection, it's a completely different design concept.

    Integrated learning would certainly save both time and money but I'm sure there would be some challenges on ensuring quality and consistency of delivery in a busy work-schedule.

    But what a great challenge to consider!

    Having done my initial degree at Brunel University the "Learning Engineer" concept also made me smile!

  • "In-the-job learning" and "Learning Engineer" two brilliant phrases - and what great challenges they offer the L&D community on our ever evolving journey.