Where Learning Happens: Job Skills and Experiential Learning

June 11, 2013 Kylie Oulahan

There is no shortage of discourse regarding our current economy’s widening skills gap. And as many employers will tell it, the shortage seems to be in their access to job-ready, credentialed workers.

With this in mind, one of the most important questions we might want answered is: where do people really master the skills that employers need most?

A recent study from Gallup, Pearson and Microsoft Partners in Learning, entitled 21st Century Skills and the Workplace, shed some light on this question – and the results might surprise. The poll-based study found that the majority of respondents reported having learned most of their job skills outside of academic settings. This was particularly true for participants who had not attended college (59%) in comparison to those who had (35%).

These findings have real implications for working adults looking to further their education, credentials, and careers. As this study indicates, there are many working adults who have mastered essential and marketable skills like collaboration, communication, and the use of technology through their work and other experiences. Therefore, Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) makes sense as a way to expedite degree completion and save learners money and time. But CPL is not just a relevant solution for the individual learner - it can also serve as a way to accelerate the expansion of a skilled and credentialed workforce to help bridge that notorious skills gap.