5 reasons to consider microlearning for early talent

Oct 12, 2023 | Development, Home Featured, Opinion

Learning in micro-sized chunks can help early talent better engage and learn more from training, explains Ellie Simpson at Sixty.


How do you train your early talent? According to the ISE Student Development survey, 78% of graduates and 61% of apprentices are trained through classroom learning.

But, a study shows fewer than 15% of learners successfully apply this kind of training once back at work.

Why are so many early talent trained this way?

• It’s always been done that way, and it’s much easier to stick to the ‘norm’
• That’s what people tend to assume early talent want
• There’s a real lack of other types of training aimed at early talent, let’s be real
• Change can be difficult, and ultimately involves an element of risk
• A belief that longer training leads to better outcomes

So, what can you do to mix it up? How can you drive the application of training, engage and excite early talent?


Microlearning is training that is delivered in micro-sized chunks. It can be completed quickly, usually within 10 minutes, and flexibly in the flow of work. Generally, microlearning gets to the point, fast, and has only one skill focus.

When you think about the broader context of our lives, we expect everything to be to-the-point, easy to access, fast and flexible. So why would we expect any different at work? If you can relate, put yourself in the shoes of early talent – those who are tech natives, who have grown up with instant access to information intertwined in their day-to-day lives.

That is why the training landscape is changing to increasingly include microlearning.

5 reasons to consider microlearning for early talent

1️. Higher engagement
Naturally, we all want to get to the end goal faster. Think about the last time you watched a YouTube video, and you were 10 minutes in and still listening to introductions. Instantly disengaged. It’s the same premise when it comes to training – you want the important information and tangible actions, fast, not slow.

Microlearning does just this, meaning there’s less time for attention spans to dwindle, driving real psychological engagement. This type of engagement increases knowledge retention, driving application of training, personal growth and behaviour change.

This leaves early talent feeling satisfied and wanting more. Therefore, microlearning not only increases engagement in the short term, but the longer term too.

2. Higher knowledge retention

It’s much easier to create long-term memories when you learn something in small, manageable, bite-sized chunks shows a study by Squire.

Think gym vs detox spa – it’s much healthier to go to the gym little and often than an annual crash detox spa. The same applies to training.

Learning small and often means you have time to compute, reflect and therefore retain knowledge which can be put into action. After all, behaviour change is the ultimate goal when providing training.

3. Improved application of training

Applying training can be tricky. I’ve been there. I get it. Attending an interesting workshop, only to lack an understanding of how what you’ve been taught can apply to your day-to-day.

Let’s think about it like going to the supermarket without a shopping list. If you only had to remember chocolate, rather than all your weekly groceries, you’re much more likely to be successful and feel accomplished.

Again, that’s where microlearning comes in. Learning and processing one skill at a time means application feels achievable. Better yet, you get a sense of accomplishment along the way, making you want to come back for more.

4. Reduced cognitive overload

Cognitive overload is a real thing, and certainly something that effects early talent. In the first year or two they have so much to learn, understand, and remember in their day-to-day. Throwing lengthy training into the mix often adds to the overload.

Think of early talent like a sponge; they can only absorb so much at a time. Microlearning focuses on one skill at a time, reducing cognitive overload, and ensuring that each skill is properly learnt.

5. More cost effective

Microlearning is cheaper than traditional training. A lot cheaper. Not only is the upfront cost lower, but early talent don’t need to be taken out of the flow of work, saving additional cost and complexities there too. With low cost and high impact, microlearning has high returns on investment compared to traditional training.

These are just some of the reasons why microlearning is an all-rounder when it comes to training – it offers a practical, engaging, and impactful way for early talent to learn and grow. Fast. Hence why it’s changing the learning game entirely.

Whatever your existing provisions, microlearning is a great, cost-effective way to train early talent, whether standalone or supporting other existing development activities. It’s engaging, flexible, and drives real behaviour change. Ultimately, organisations that embrace microlearning will reap the rewards.

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