Retraining is Fraught with Challenges That Adaptive Learning is Primed to Address

Fulcrum Labs
95 posts

It’s not news that automation, outsourcing and globalization have displaced millions of U.S. manufacturing, textile and mill workers. For example, automation has caused nearly nine in 10 manufacturing jobs to disappear since 2000. And Chinese imports alone have eliminated some 2.4 million jobs in the U.S. since the beginning of the century.

But what you may not be aware of is that between now and 2024, the United States will be home to some 16 million openings for middle-skill jobs—those that require more education than a high-school diploma but typically not a bachelor’s degree.

It seems that reskilling displaced workers to fill these jobs would be a no-brainer. But according to a recent article in The Atlantic, retraining as we know it today is fraught with a lot of problems and false promises.

“Despite decades of investments by the federal government in a patchwork of job-retraining efforts, most have been found to be ineffective according to numerous studies over the years, and it remains unclear to experts whether the programs are even up to the task of preparing workers for the new economy.” – The Atlantic

According to Workforce-development officials and labor economists this is due to four main challenges:

1. Rapid Change – Skills are rapidly changing and keeping programs and curriculum updated is challenging. In fact:

The federal government has called for better cooperation between industry and community colleges in designing programs that prioritize what it refers to as ‘demand-driven training,’ so that dislocated workers aren’t learning skills that are outdated by the time they graduate.” – The Atlantic

2. Licensing – States have increasingly added onerous licensing requirements for many jobs to ensure safety or quality of services – by way of example: around 30 percent of American workers need a license to perform their jobs; in the early 1950s, less than 5 percent did.

3. Timing & Speed – Retraining is most successful when workers actually start it before they leave their old job.

4. College Resistance – The pathway to retraining almost always runs through a college campus, and many adult learners are hesitant or unwilling to re-enter the traditional college environment

As we examined these challenges, we realized that they’re areas where adaptive learning can improve the ease, efficacy and relevance of worker reskilling. Here’s how:

Adaptive learning provides fast, targeted training

It allows learners to rapidly progress through the course at their own pace, by focusing on the areas where they need the most review, and quickly moving past content they already know. It verifies that learners have mastered and can apply the training in less time than traditional learning methodologies—in this case 55% less time . And coupling adaptive learning with micro learning, as we do in our platform, provides intense focus on specific, actionable learning competencies. This is ideal for demand-driven training because these bite-sized courses can equip learners with the new skills they need quickly and enable them to keep pace with a rapidly changing landscape.

Adaptive learning empowers more students to sit for certification and licensing exams

Adaptive learning has demonstrated it can improve student pass rates on critical licensing and certification exams. In fact, our technology has won numerous industry awards, most recently a Brandon Hall award for doing just that with the Aviation Institute of Maintenance. Not only do learners perform better, they are also more confident and, in one specific case, 25% more likely to sit for a licensing/certification exam.

Adaptive learning offers another way forward beyond the college classroom

We’ve found that offering subject matter in easily-digestible, micro learning chunks within an adaptive framework, and enabling desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile access to our platform, motivates our learners engage with courses on-demand. They can spend 5-10 minutes running through a quick course whenever they have the time, rather than sitting through a long seminar or other traditionally structured learning environment. This is ideal for older students and those who are still employed while trying to enhance their skills.

In the coming years, retraining will impact more and more American workers . As a nation, we have to address the challenges that these displaced workers face as they seek new skills. Adaptive learning is one method that offers real promise to do so. For more information about our adaptive approach, watch our short overview video.