Classrooms or Computers: What Do Workers Value More as a Source of Professional Training?

The UK's recent economic success has certainly been due in part to the country's ability to attract individuals with highly specific competencies, qualities, experience, knowledge, and ideas. But even the most skilled of employees need support – and that's where training

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British organizations that have experienced growth over the last two years are significantly more likely to train workers than are companies for which growth has either been steady or in decline. Investing in the continued professional development of employees is beneficial not only for company morale, but also for the corporation's bottom line. For that reason, employee training is becoming more of a priority, especially in the UK.

Training courses are a great way to improve the effectiveness of a company's workforce. That being said, it can be difficult for managers to negotiate the various categories of training courses and programs that are available to them. Some managers prefer employees attend online training programs because they see eLearning as an inexpensive alternative to classroom training. Others think it's a better idea to send employees to take lessons in quite environments away from the noise and pressures of the workplace – environments where they can create networks with other learners by sharing experiences and insights.

But what about the employees themselves? What do workers really think about professional training? Would they prefer a classic classroom-based approach, or are they more likely to appreciate online courses?

Activia Training, a UK-based training provider, has conducted a survey


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Classroom-based training

eLearning courses

Quite surprisingly, more than half of respondents (52.7 percent) considered classroom-based training the most valuable source of professional development, while a small 18 percent valued online training the most.

[caption id="attachment_85451" align="aligncenter" width="500"] (Preferences for all sources of professional training, all participants)[/caption]

You might expect that employees would prefer eLearning over classroom studies. After all, eLearning allows them to access their online training courses any time, anywhere. But this is not the case.

And it gets even more surprising: According to the results, more than 55 percent of young employees (aged 18-24) considered classroom-based courses the best source of training, followed by self-study. This is quite unexpected in 2016. Social media, virtual reality, and smartphones dominate millennials' lives, bur this generation seems to find eLearning a turnoff. When it comes to training and development, they prefer real-world interaction. Only 15.9 percent of young respondents said they valued eLearning more than classroom courses or self-study.

On the other hand, adult workers in the age group 35-44 were the most interested in online training. This age group is composed of busy professionals for whom time management is often the biggest challenge. They appreciate eLearning because it means they don't have to stay after hours in the office to complete mandatory training or be stuck at their desks if they want to learn more about a specific task or process. They can even access their training on the go by using their mobile devices. This makes it possible for employees to learn at their own pace and in comfortable settings.

[caption id="attachment_85452" align="aligncenter" width="500"] (Preferences for eLearning courses, by age group)[/caption]

Business managers in industries and countries all over the world are investing in training their workforces, and the outcome of Activia's survey confirms that employees appreciate this: The majority of workers (72 percent) felt that either classroom-based courses or online training would be valuable to their professional development.

Workers in the UK want to improve their skills, and most of them want to do so in a classroom environment that allows for face-to-face interaction with classmates and instructors. It's positive to see that young workers are the most interested in growing their professional skills, with more than half of the respondents in this age group believing that classroom-based training was the most valuable source of training.

Marco Saccá is an Italian journalist based in London, where he works as a digital marketing executive and freelance writer.