Microlearning Leads to Rapid Skill Acquisition – Tip #134

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Do we have a skills crisis? Some economists and academics reject the idea of a skills crisis, but survey findings say otherwise.

We Have a Skills Gap

Most (or 61% of) employees who responded to this Udemy survey think there is a skills gap; 54% report that they lack needed knowledge to do their current jobs.

And this isn’t all in the employees’ imagination; HR and C-suite execs think so too. A survey of the Career Advisory Board found that nearly 60% of respondents said that interviewees for tech roles lack the necessary skills.

It’s important to acknowledge these findings because skills gap can manifest as concrete consequences. For managers, skills gap can impact productivity and customer satisfaction, while workers who lack the necessary skills are afraid of possibly being displaced.

Quickly Learn New Skills Through Microlearning

To survive in a technology-driven environment, workers must learn new skills quickly and efficiently. They need to be able to fix and change things fast by looking for answers and solutions from their own experiences, working with others, through formal and informal sources of knowledge, and tools.

4 Strategies to Acquire New Skills Fast

How long does it take someone to learn a new skill? Josh Kaufman says it only takes 20 hours (45 minutes in a day for a month), not 10,000 hours. Below are 4 strategies to learn new skills fast.

Fix it, change it

What skills do workers need to learn? Why do they need to learn these new skills?

To fix and change things, learners need to break down the skill that is needed to be learned into sub-skills or smaller units. This makes it easily digestible. Learning in small chunks and inter-spaces makes learning easier, faster, and more memorable.


Where can learners find solutions? How do they find the answers? Here are a couple of ideas:

Learn by connections

Let learners connect the unfamiliar with the familiar by using metaphors. As Brian Clark said: “Metaphors allow you to make the complex simple and the controversial palatable.” A complex idea becomes not only comprehensible but also memorable.

Get the right help

Someone who wants to learn how to create graphics would most probably do some research by reading books, watching YouTube videos or asking a demonstration from a friend who knows how.


Now that workers understand the problem and have several options on how to fix it, it’s time to let them focus on the standards that will guide them through the change process. What action or solution requires the least effort, is the easiest, fastest, quickest to apply and the most useful?

Then, break down any barriers and allow them to focus on doing what they need to learn. Give them enough time to practice deliberately.


Lastly, give learners time to reflect. Let them ask themselves: “What results have I accomplished so far? Did these add any value?” When we allow learners to reflect, we give them time to absorb information and to allow that information to stick to their memories.


To stay afloat in a rapidly evolving technology-driven environment, we need to recognize gaps and see them as opportunities for workers to learn new skills. Applying Microlearning principles is an effective way of achieving this goal.


  James Bessen. Workers Don’t Have the Skills They Need – and They Know It.

Harvard Business Review. September 17, 2014 Career Advisory Board. Executive Summary: Exploring America’s Tech Skills Gap  and the Parallel Deficits of Applied Tech Skills and Hard Tech Skills

The Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte. The skills gap in U.S. manufacturing: 2015 and beyond.

2015 ZAP™ Microlearning Principles

Victoria Turk. How to learn a new skill in 20 hours.

Wired. December 23, 2013 Transforming Minds – Using Metaphors in eLearning

Tip #129 – Why Does Microlearning Mean Better Learning?

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
“Helping Learners Learn Their Way”

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