What makes a Skills Academy or large scale training successful?

Rapt audience

Faced with the challenge of developing a workforce that can navigate today and tomorrow’s business challenges, organisations are increasingly investing in opportunities for learning and development. One way of providing these opportunities is through large scale training or a Skills Academy, which provides a range of courses that can facilitate the development of the core skills required for success as employees transition through the business.

However, the value of training or a Skills Academy doesn’t simply lie in increasing the number of opportunities for learning and development. After all, as the old adage warns, ‘quality is more important than quantity’. With this in mind, I’ll cover just 3 factors that an Academy needs to have if it is to help its delegates reach their potential.

Breadth of opportunities

It’s no use only developing skills that aid performance in a current role, which may no longer facilitate performance after transitioning. Training or Skills Academies should, therefore, provide development opportunities for a number of transferable skills that support the learning journey of employees. For instance, whilst opportunities to develop tactical skills may be more critical at lower levels, the opportunity to learn strategic skills is equally necessary later down the line.

Quality of opportunities

One way of ensuring that your training programme or Skills Academy provides quality opportunities for learning and development is through drawing on lessons from the science of adult learning. Theory and research from this field have illuminated various attitudes, behaviours, and techniques that can enhance the outcomes of any training course. To take just one example, research has highlighted that experiential learning can help the learner to form a deeper understanding of the material.1 This suggests that experiential exercises may play a key role in facilitating learning in any training programmes or Skills Academy.

Learning mindset

The final key ingredient refers to the extent to which delegates possess a ‘Learning Mindset’, which refers to a collection of attitudes and behaviours that enhance learning outcomes when faced with development opportunities. A Skills Academy can play a key role in helping delegates to develop this mindset. Indeed, when it’s effectively designed, it can help to foster the behaviours that help delegates ‘learn to learn’.


It goes without saying that the effectiveness of large scale training or Skills Academies relies on more than these 3 components. Nevertheless, it is equally true that these 3 ingredients can help to enhance the outcomes of training, enabling delegates to reach their potential and transform business performance.




1Moon, J. A. (2004). A handbook of reflective and experiential learning: Theory and practice. New York: Routledge.