Training and the Millennial Generation

The point is that using mobile technology is second-nature for millennials and pretty much for everyone in the workforce. Provide e-learning so employees can train at their convenience, when it best fits into their workflow.

If you haven't noticed, the workforce is increasingly growing with people of the millennial generation. People like me; that's right, I'm a millennial. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, millennials represent 36% of the U.S. workforce and will represent 75% by the year 2025.

There are countless news stories out there focusing on our values, our work ethic, and our knowledge of technology. While defining a generation is important, the workforce needs to stop focusing on our differences and instead embrace and adapt to our unique characteristics.

Who are Millennials?
While the exact years defining my generation seem to differ depending on the source, the most common definition puts millennials as being born between 1980 and the early 2000s. We are larger in numbers than the preceding Generation X, meaning my generation truly represents the future of the American workforce. The thing is, the future is now. The oldest millennials are in their early 30s, and the youngest are only a few years away from entering the workforce.

Skills Gap – So Train Us!
As more and more baby boomers retire, senior positions in organizations need to be filled. Generation X is much smaller in numbers than the baby boomers, putting us, the millennials, on the career fast-track. According to an article titled "74 of the Most Interesting Facts About the Millennial Generation," by Dan Schawbel, 15% of millennials already in the workforce are in management positions. I must say, according to my job title, I fall into this statistic.

Unfortunately, many people are complaining millennials lack the skills needed to fill these higher-level positions. I know I have felt overwhelmed by the duties of my job coordinating a small department. Millennials are entering the workforce with formal education but lacking the know-how of the business world. Workplace training is one of the tools employers can use to bridge the gap.

Use of Technology
What employers may need to realize is millennials grew up in an age where technology was completely integrated into their lives. If I have a question about a fact or how to do something, I look it up online, and most of the time I'm looking it up on a mobile device.

According to a U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation report, millennials state their "main sources for news are television (65%) and the Internet (59%)." This demonstrates the need to consume content through video. A millennial is much more likely to be interested in watching a training video than reading PowerPoint slides. A Fast Company article reported, "YouTube reaches more U.S. adults aged 18-34 than any cable network." So not only are people interested in video content, they are most likely watching it on the internet.

The way millennials use technology emphasizes the need to step away from classroom training and put training into the hands of your employees. Video is a great medium because video offers learning benefits by demonstrating tasks and providing dramatizations learners can apply to real-life scenarios. Mastery Technologies, an e-learning provider, has trained millions of people over the Internet. These millions represent a range of ages, job roles, and industries. Time and time again, customers report enjoying the convenience of taking training when it fits into their work schedule instead of having to wait for a scheduled classroom session. Now, with mobile-enabled training, Mastery sees employers reaping even greater benefits from being able to train anytime and everywhere, from any device.

Mobile, Mobile, Mobile
An article from the Capterra Training Technology Blog, "How to Train Millennials Using eLearning," suggests mobile e-learning offers a great advantage for training content since the "selfie-taking Millennial, nose down in a touchscreen, is practically a cliché at this point." If you are questioning millennials' use of mobile devices, consider that the same U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation report from above mentions 80% of millennials sleep with their cell phone next to the bed.

Therefore, when it is appropriate to offer learning materials on a mobile platform, take advantage of the fact that, according to a Business 2 Community article by Tom Pick, more than half of adults in the United States own smartphones, and the number is closer to 75% for millennials. If employees have the devices, let them use them to benefit their careers.

Mastery Technologies made mobile a must-have for course development and now offers more than 700 courses covering skills from safety to leadership to customer service that employees can access from any desktop computer, smart phone, or tablet.

Tips for Training Millennials
As a millennial, and as a professional in the training industry, I offer you these tips for training your millennial employees:

1. Provide e-learning so employees can train at their convenience, when it best fits into their workflow.

2. Seek out as much video-based training content as possible. Employees will be more engaged and will retain more knowledge.

3. Offer training and coaching opportunities for millennials on the type of skills they don't learn about in formal education.

4. Find mobile-enabled learning materials so employees can truly have all their training resources right at their fingertips at all times.

5. Don't ignore the wants and needs of a new generation, embrace them.

Embrace the Skills Millennials Offer
Even though the millennial generation is getting a reputation for being so wildly different from the other generations in the workforce, we may not be as different as you think. In a Strategy + Business article titled "Five Millennial Myths," Jennifer Deal reported that "research shows that millennial employees have about the same level of organizational commitment as boomers and Gen Xers."

Good employees are looking to achieve the same goals, even if their preferred methods for learning and gaining new skills differ. Finding ways to impart knowledge and best business practices on to the next generation of workers helps ensure a better future for your organization.

Visit www.mastery.com to learn about e-learning solutions you can provide to all the generations in your workforce.

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