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Building a Learning Pathway for Your Employees

Learning pathways should be tailored to each individual, but that doesn't mean you have to create a perfectly unique pathway for each employee. Here's how you do that.
Published 15 Nov 2020
Updated 27 Oct 2022
5 min read
Building a Learning Pathway for Your Employee

Today, we want to look at why creating learning pathways can make or break your business.

Did you know the most common reason employees give for leaving a job is for career growth opportunities?

Employees are happier when they know that there’s capacity within the business for them to advance.

With Millenials forecast to make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025, it’s more important than ever to make sure you have built a clear and concise learning pathway for your employees.

Why you should prioritise learning in the workplace

Finding employees with the right skills is a struggle for many businesses, but manufacturing and information technology appear to be struggling the most according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

These industries are facing massive skills gaps, resulting in millions of unfilled jobs. The solution seems obvious at first glance – reform education to teach people the skills they’ll actually need in the workforce. However, education reforms are just one part of the solution.

Educational institutes can’t close the skills gaps on their own. Even if they could, employers don’t have the time to wait for changes to take effect.

They need educated, qualified employees now. Rather than waiting years or decades, employers can take matters into their own hands by developing learning pathways for employees working within their organisations.

What is a learning pathway?

Just as an employee can chart a career pathway, for example moving from a junior employee through to mid and then senior leadership roles, they should also be able to see a clear learning journey from their current level of knowledge to the education or certification necessary to qualify for those higher roles they want to apply for.

A learning pathway complements your employee development program by identifying which training program and education the employee should pursue. Then it gives employees solutions for accessing those opportunities.

This might be a marketer who needs to upskill in Google Analytics or a finance assistant who needs to take their CFA exams… whatever the case may be, it’s your duty as an employer to help create a learning path for them get there.

How to create learning pathways in the workplace

Learning pathways should be tailored to each individual, but that doesn’t mean you have to create perfectly unique learning paths for each employee.

What it does mean is you should adjust pre-existing learning paths to make them as efficient as possible.

Establish clear learning paths for individual employees

By establishing clear learning pathways, you’re helping to retain valuable talent. At the same time, your business benefits by helping each employee use all their talents and skills in service to your company grow bigger and better.

For every employee in your company no matter what the position, you should map out a learning pathway that helps that individual advance to a higher-paying position and a position with more responsibility.

A learning pathway should clearly show each individual:

  • Where they currently sit in the business organisational chart
  • Exactly what the promotional pathway looks like
  • Identifies which skill development e.g. skills, certifications or knowledge that employee would need to follow for that pathway
  • Tells your employee exactly where to find those supplies and how to achieve the provided learning outcomes

Write these down and make sure employees have easy access to them. Make them part of performance reviews and any coaching/one-on-one meetings.

Next step, look for courses, organisations, or employee training partners that can provide employees with what they need to advance – if it’s not something they can do on their own.

Pick your training partner or program mindfully

Help your employees balance work and training by building efficient learning pathways. In place of four-year degrees or intensive boot camps, look for flexible online learning options, certifications and micro-learning opportunities.

This doesn’t work for everyone, but some employees might like to have a more flexible option that they can achieve whilst still working full-time. However, some might like the extensive crash courses… make sure you keep an open dialogue with your employee to find out what suits their learning styles best.

While learning pathways look different for different industries, they all need to partner with programs and organisations that meet certain key requirements.

To be most effective your learning activities need to be flexible, focused, incremental, accessible and affordable.

Want to learn more about the different learning styles of employees? Check out our guide on learning styles here.

Tips for creating effective learning pathways

1. Be flexible through the learning process

You’ll need your employees to continue doing their current job while pursuing the next opportunity. So look for training and development opportunities that they can do at their own pace and on their schedule. 

2. Be focused on learning goals

While learning is always valuable, your learning pathway should be focused on specific outcomes. Make sure that employees are learning exactly what they need to know in the particular topic to achieve their learning goal and not getting distracted by side topics.

For example, a program in front-line supervisory skills is quicker and more immediately applicable than an associate’s degree in organisational leadership.

3. Make learning pathways accessible

Online courses that can be accessed through a mobile-friendly online portal are particularly valuable because employees can train wherever they are. Whether they’re on a work computer, on their tablet after the kids go to bed, or on their phone while riding the bus to work.

Learning materials that are easily accessible can accelerate the learners’ progress and improve their learning experience, motivating them further to reach their learning goals.

In addition to the courses themselves, help and support should also be easily accessible.

Pro tip: Employment Hero’s cloud-based learning management system is jam-packed with educational content, and can be easily accessible by employees and managers alike.

4. Make it affordable

Finances can present a serious barrier for even the most driven employees. Choose an education partner that offers affordable pricing for your employees.

If possible, provide them with tuition assistance options as part of their employee benefits package. Tuition assistance shows employees that your company is serious about supporting their advancement.

It makes them more engaged, more loyal, and happier overall, resulting in better overall employee engagement and employee retention.

At the same time, it ensures that you have a steady stream of qualified employees to fill open positions.

Want more?

Building a learning pathway for your employees is just one of the ways to make sure you’ve got an amazing company culture. For more top tips on making your business a great place to work, download our company culture bundle below.

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The workplace culture bundle

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