Millennials & Technology: Transforming Corporate Training

by Satta Sarmah Hightower

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Millennials & Technology: How They’re Transforming Corporate Training

Companies spent more than $70 billion on corporate training in 2013.

That may seem like a hefty number but they look at it as an investment, with the goal of developing highly skilled and more satisfied workers.

But corporate training is about more than sticking employees in a room for eight hours and hoping they’ll learn something. Two things are changing the industry: millennials and technology.

Millennials now make up one-third of the American workforce. They’re a multi-tasking, technology savvy generation with specific training needs and short attention spans (according to one study, this group switches between TV, radio, print and digital media 27 times in an hour). On top of that, virtual learning, massive open online credit courses (MOOC) and self-authored videos have broadened the traditional learning and development models.

Sunil Gupta, a dean at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, says many companies implement corporate training programs to address a learning gap or to upskill their existing team.

“They’re looking for instruction that will have meaningful results,” says Gupta, who heads BMCC’s Center for Continuing Education and Workforce Development, which develops corporate training programs.

Self-directed learning and online study works for many employees, Gupta says, but they’re most successful with very disciplined people who can learn, and more importantly, retain the information. Hybrid learning that combines instructor-led and online courses is where companies get the most benefit, he says.

Measured innovation is pivotal, too.

“You want to make sure you’re on the cutting edge, but not on the bleeding edge,” Gupta says. “You have to straddle two worlds—what’s around the future and the reality of what the sector requires today.”

Millennials — a.k.a. the Facebook generation — are nudging companies toward that innovation. They are so accustomed to communicating by text or on social networks that their interpersonal skills need to be sharpened, so many companies have launched training programs covering soft skills like email etiquette and office decorum.

“They’ve been gifted with this wonderful asset of technology, but still need other skills,” Gupta says.

Gupta adds that there constantly will be new skills and workforce needs for which companies must be prepared. It’s often easier—and less expensive— to train existing employees than to hire new staff. Companies who don’t focus on corporate training will give up a strategic advantage in either efficiency or work staff, Gupta says.

“It’s the best investment companies can make.”

Learn more about corporate training at Borough of Manhattan Community College Center for Continuing Education or sign up for one of its courses on CourseHorse.