The global skills and competency framework for the digital world

70-20-10 - evolving community practice

This is an evolving document describing practices of SFIA users. Description of the 70 20 10 model and suggestions for how to use the model to support employee development.

The 70 20 10 model is a model for workplace learning and development that suggests that people learn best through a combination...

  • 70% of learning happens on the job - on-the-job experiences and stretch assignments
  • 20% through interactions with others and feedback - such as mentoring and coaching
  • 10% through formal training and education programs.

For learning and development professionals, this means designing learning and development programs that incorporate opportunities for on-the-job experience, social learning, and formal training. It also means creating a culture that encourages and supports continuous learning and development for employees at all levels of the organization.

For line managers and professionals in the data, digital, and technology industries, the 70 20 10 model highlights the importance of hands-on experience and experimentation in learning new skills and technologies. It also emphasizes the value of collaboration and knowledge sharing with colleagues and peers, as well as formal training and certifications to supplement on-the-job learning.

Related concepts 

Continuous learning - an approach to professional development that emphasizes ongoing, lifelong learning. It is based on the idea that in today's fast-paced, constantly changing world, it is essential to continuously update and improve one's skills and knowledge in order to remain effective in the workforce. It also helps to build a culture of learning and development within an organization, which can lead to increased job satisfaction, productivity, and retention of top talent.

Learning in the flow of work - ‘learning accessible during work in the workplace environment’ or 'learning undertaken without any disruption to the work activity'.

It's important to remember that the 70 20 10 model is just that - a model.

  • It's not a one-size-fits-all solution or a fixed ratio of how learning and development should be structured.
  • The model is meant to provide a framework for understanding the different types of learning and development opportunities that exist, and how they can be combined to create a more holistic approach to employee development.

In practice, the ratios may vary depending on the individual, the job role, and the organization's specific needs and goals.

  • For some individuals, the majority of their learning may come from on-the-job experience and social learning opportunities, while for others, more formal training may be required.

The key is to use the 70 20 10 model as a guide and not as a prescriptive set of instructions.

  • By taking a flexible and adaptable approach to learning and development, organizations can create a customized approach that meets the unique needs and goals of their employees and the business as a whole.

Examples of learning and development activities

Why don’t you just tell me exactly what to do?

The 70 - learning on the job or in the flow of work

On-the-job experiences and stretch assignments

  • Taskforces: Opportunities to work on cross-functional teams to solve specific business problems.
  • Increasing span of control: Taking on additional responsibilities and decision-making authority.
  • Acting-up opportunities: Filling in for a higher-level role temporarily
  • Secondment: Working on a short-term assignment in a different department or company
  • New tasks, roles and duties: Taking on new responsibilities and learning new skills
  • Job shadowing: Learning from an experienced colleague by observing them on the job
  • Working groups: Collaborating with colleagues on projects and initiatives
  • Assessments: Regularly reviewing your skills and knowledge and identifying areas for improvement
  • Development plans: Setting goals and creating a plan to achieve them
  • Applying new knowledge and skills: Putting new information into practice on the job
  • Simulations: Practicing new skills in a simulated environment.

Learning in the flow of work

  • FAQs: Finding answers to common questions and concerns.
  • Videos: Watching demonstrations on specific skills or technologies.
  • Reference materials: Using quick reference books, manuals, wikis and other resources.
  • Toolkits: Having access to templates, checklists and other resources to help on the job.

The 20 - learning with others

Interactions with others - including - but not limited to...

  • Mentoring: Being paired with an experienced colleague who can provide guidance and support.
  • Coaching: Receiving one-on-one guidance and feedback on your performance.
  • Communities of practice: Joining a group of people with similar skills and interests.
  • Online communities: Connecting with others in your field through online forums and social media.
  • Social media: interactions with others to stay up-to-date on the latest developments.
  • Meetings: Attending regular meetings and conferences to learn from others.
  • Feedback from others: Receiving constructive feedback from colleagues, managers, and customers.
  • Manager conversations: Regularly discussing your goals and progress with your manager.

Resources - including - but not limited to...

  • Newsletters: Staying up-to-date on industry developments and best practices.
  • Social media: Following industry leaders and influencers to stay up-to-date on the latest developments.
  • Articles: Reading in-depth reports and analysis on specific topics.
  • Blogs: Learning from experts and thought leaders in the field.
  • Internet searching: Finding and using online resources to expand your knowledge. •
  • Podcasts: Listening to recordings on a wide range of topics.
  • Videos: Watching demonstrations and lectures on specific skills or technologies.
  • Books: Reading in-depth texts on various subjects.
  • FAQs: Finding answers to common questions and concerns.
  • Guidance: Getting expert advice on a specific topic.
  • Reference materials: Using reference books, manuals and other resources for quick reference.
  • Wikis: Collaborating on an online knowledge base.
  • Toolkits: Having access to templates, checklists and other resources to help on the job.
  • Knowledge hub: A central location for all of the organization's learning resources.

The 10 - formal training and education programs

  • Tertiary education: Pursuing a formal education program in your field.
  • Micro-credentials: Completing short, focused courses to gain specific skills or certifications.
  • Workshops: Attending hands-on training sessions on a specific topic.
  • Seminars/webinars: Listening to experts present on a particular subject.
  • Classroom learning: Taking traditional classroom-based courses.
  • E-learning: Taking courses online.
  • Massive open online courses (MOOC): Enrolling in open-access courses on a wide range of topics.

How to introduce and embed a 70 20 10 approach?

Here are some actions that the learning and development professionals and technical managers and leaders can take:

For Learning and Development Professionals

  • Educate leadership: Start by educating leaders and decision-makers on the benefits of the 70 20 10 approach, including increased employee engagement, improved performance, and more cost-effective learning and development.

  • Align learning programs: Align learning programs with business goals and objectives, and ensure that they include a mix of on-the-job experience, social learning, and formal training opportunities.

  • Develop social learning initiatives: Develop initiatives to encourage social learning, such as mentoring programs, job shadowing, and cross-functional projects.

  • Use technology: Use technology to support and facilitate on-the-job learning, such as online knowledge sharing platforms, microlearning modules, and performance support tools.

For Technical Managers and Leaders:

  • Lead by example: Lead by example by actively seeking out and participating in on-the-job learning and social learning opportunities, and encouraging team members to do the same.

  • Set expectations: Set clear expectations for employees to take ownership of their own learning and development, and encourage them to seek out opportunities for growth and development.

  • Foster a learning culture: Foster a learning culture within the team by recognizing and rewarding learning achievements, promoting knowledge sharing, and encouraging collaboration.

  • Support formal training: While formal training is only a small part of the 70 20 10 approach, it still plays an important role in developing foundational knowledge and skills. Technical managers and leaders should support and encourage employees to pursue relevant formal training and education opportunities as needed.

Examples when formal training will be much more than the 10

There are a number of situations where formal training may be more important and make up more than 10% of an individual's learning and development:
  1. New Hires: When an individual is new to a role or the organization, they may require extensive formal training to get up to speed on the company's policies, procedures, and technologies.

  2. Compliance Training: In industries such as healthcare, finance, and legal, employees may be required to complete mandatory compliance training on a regular basis. This training may be delivered in a formal classroom setting or through online courses.

  3. Technical Skills Training: When an employee needs to learn specific technical skills, such as programming languages or software applications, formal training may be the most efficient and effective way to acquire these skills.

  4. Leadership Development Programs: Leadership development programs often involve a structured curriculum delivered through formal training sessions. These programs may be longer-term and more intensive than other types of training.

  5. Professional Certifications: In some professions, such as accounting, project management, and cybersecurity, professional certifications may require significant formal training to obtain.

It's important to note that while formal training may make up a larger percentage of an individual's learning and development in these situations, on-the-job experience and social learning opportunities are still valuable and should be incorporated wherever possible.