Human Resources

Project-Based Learning & Development

December 29, 2023
1 minute

In organizations with mature cultures of learning and development, the chance to develop skills is baked into everything. This includes project work. Organizations benefit from this approach as it not only enhances employee skills but also contributes to the success of the projects undertaken. It's a more dynamic and engaging way to foster growth within the workforce.

This blog post will dive into project-based learning and development. We will look at how it can come to life and the best practices to foster it in an organization. 

What is project-based learning and development?

In a project-based learning and development model, every project includes a deliberate plan for skills development. This means that the project has a skills profile associated with it - the set of skills and proficiency that are required for the project. Comparing the skills profile for the project to the employee’s skills profile will reveal the employee’s skills gap. The skills gap can be skills that the employee is missing or even a degree of proficiency that they need to upskill. These are the skills they are working towards mastering during the duration of this project. 

Who is responsible for what?

It is the role of the project manager or project lead to work with the Learning and Development Manager or team to define these skills. The project should be staffed in such a way that there are the proper experts on the project team as well as people looking to develop necessary skills.

Keep in mind what the desired outcome is, this will help focus on what inputs are required to drive that project outcome.

Putting it into Action

An organization’s first responsibility is to communicate its vision for success. As with any successful initiative, setting, communicating, and executing on clear expectations is essential. 

This might look like holding an all-hands to announce the new project and checking for understanding with people managers during the course of the project.

Core to this is having a healthy budget dedicated to skills development. This is ideally comprised of a variety of learning tools, depending on the employee’s learning style and the type of skill that needs to be developed:

  • Custom content - company-specific knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviors
  • High quality external content - for example, bringing in experts to run tailored sessions
  • Crafting internal project postings that call out the specific skills needs from candidates and contributors

What’s Next? Career Planning

After a successful project outcome, Learning and Development ought to support People Managers to help move their employees onto the next stages to achieve their career goals. This might be a matter of connecting to the next project with the appropriate skills match for the next phase of development. Identifying the next level of skills growth is key. 

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