Workplace Learning werkplekleren is an on-going structured work experience course that offers an excellent opportunity for freshers to gain some hands-on training or first-hand experience. A lot of companies are gradually adopting this method and are now recruiting from within their own ranks as well as from third world countries. It provides a unique and interesting way for freshers to develop themselves by gaining some practical working experience at first.

The success of workplace learning in this sense is measured on how good you are in real life situations. There is no point in participating in informal learning that may have no real application to your daily work life unless you have developed skills that will come in handy while on-the-job. Developing real work skills demands effort, and if you are prepared to put in the necessary effort, you will quickly see that your learning curve reduces significantly.

Many people think of classroom learning as a rigid process where learning is done using textbook knowledge and taught through lecture-style lectures. On the contrary, classroom learning is more of an informal approach where the student engages him or herself in an ongoing discussion with other students. This type of learning is more useful in imparting formal skills such as how to read and write as well as in developing leadership skills. However, the effectiveness of workplace learning is measured more by the learner’s ability to apply the learned concepts and skills outside of the classroom. After all, a classroom still requires a teacher and a student to interact to teach the learner and help develop discipline.

Under workplace learning, the development of new skills is encouraged rather than being rigidly taught. In fact, many managers believe that students who are able to adapt to new knowledge and new situations are more likely to be flexible and adaptable in their everyday lives. Such skills are also more easily learned by learners because it involves active participation rather than passive, one-off learning.

On the other hand, when we consider formal learning, we generally think of structured teaching and controlled circumstances where the student has to follow a pre-determined curriculum and perform a prescribed task. Such a formal learning environment can inhibit flexibility because the student has to conform to a specific pattern and structure established by the teacher. Furthermore, in a classroom, the student is usually guided by a Professor or an assigned mentor who has much more time for teaching and advising rather than allowing the student to discover his or her own learning style. Finally, there is no room for the spontaneous discovery of new knowledge and skills that occur when students are allowed to become proactive and explore areas that they have not explored before.

As you can see, the differences between formal learning and workplace learning do not necessarily mean that one is better than the other. What it means is that there are effective ways to integrate the two in order to provide learners with a richer learning experience. Effective workplace learning comes from active participation where the students get to apply what they have learned in a real work setting. These types of skills transfer well to other situations, which will help them to increase their professional skills in many other areas.