Scaling action-based feedback at Generation to grow confidence for their graduates
How Generation drives skill growth in the Practice retail program
A source of competent, skilled, and eager talent for entry-level positions is now ready for hire. HR teams are mining a once overlooked pool of talent: the 5.5 million 16-to-24-year-olds, called “opportunity youths” who are out of school but not in the workforce. In fact, over 75 million young people are unemployed worldwide. Research shows that even one year without a job takes a heavy toll on a young person’s economic future. Taking youth with the same circumstances — education, place of residence, and family background — one year out of work significantly reduces their earning ability: 23 percent for males and 16 percent for females.
The team at Generation, a global youth employment organization, seeks to close the skills gap for young, underserved people serves youth in 65 cities across nine countries. Generation’s program has now graduated over 20,200 students and delivered a 2-6x increased student income following graduation from their programs, with cumulative salaries over $70 million. 88% of Generation graduates outperform their peers on job productivity and demonstrate quality outcomes. In their continued efforts to create new opportunities, Generation’s training programs are designed to:
• Reinforce skills by scaling social applied microlearning.
• Facilitate feedback to drive skill mastery.
• Increase collaboration by fostering a culture of contextual, timely feedback.
• Promote the sharing of honest, helpful feedback to drive impactful behavior change
Generation’s mission is to empower young people to build thriving sustainable careers while providing employers the highly-skilled, motivated talent they need. Generation training works with employers to map the skills and competencies required for success in available jobs. “At Generation, we offer both synchronous and asynchronous training. We needed a solution that supports our asynchronous approach. With about 40% of the training elements incorporated into the curriculum requiring completion outside the classroom, it is essential that the solution we used to train the student enabled flexibility to engage with the content on their own time — between shifts at work, on their commute home, while they have some extra time at home. Something they can complete remotely. This is a significant draw of our program — remote flexibility because these young people are juggling to fit this program into their normal, daily lives,” said Alex Rudnick, U.S. Retail Program Manager of the flexibility of Practice’s enablement to mobile-first learning.
With Generation Practice pilot programs recruiting for retail career advancement (RCA) now in Jacksonville, Florida and Dallas, Texas, the Generation team focuses its efforts on diverse social economic and labor-market contexts. Most of the participants in the program work in retail and want to get promoted or have previously worked in that field and are looking to get back in. “We pick the most common scenarios that helps boost their confidence so when they are interviewing or are in specific scenarios, they are fluent and comfortable with their response,” expanded Rudnick. Practice enables the Generation team to equip each of the students to fluently engage in each of the scenarios at a comfort and skill level that is increased over time.
Typically, Generation programs span 4-12 weeks. The Generation RCA program is accelerated; it spans 2-6 weeks, with 12-20 students engaging in retail-based practice, peer interaction, self-reflection, and coaching. Their Generation RCA program is “centered around repetition and the ‘breakdown points’ that are commonly associated with retail-specific jobs. With that context, the exercises are focused on role-play scenarios. A sample exercise: what are the best ways to upsell a customer? We ask our students to think through the scenarios that would deliver high customer satisfaction,” mentioned Corinne Spears, Digital Strategy Manager at Generation. Spears further elaborated that the Generation team needs a solution like Practice to help them scale their live, in-person classroom exercises and create a digital, mobile experience that allows students to access content on their phones. “Building student confidence is key to our program. We want our graduates to make good decisions on their own. There isn’t always one best way to handle a customer interaction. Scenario practice sessions help students feel confident making uncertain decisions. We want them to be able to continually practice, learn from each other and get better. Practice enables them to do that much more effectively,” said Spears about the way that students leverage the Practice solution to get better at their abilities.
With Practice deeply ingrained in the retail career advancement (RCA) program, the Generation team is able to:
• Scale social applied micro-learning by delivering skill development opportunities through targeted learning paths
• Ensure that program students are well-equipped with contextual learning that helps drives practical skill building
• Capture video recordings for honest peer and instructor feedback
• Enable timely delivery of feedback based on peer-to-peer, instructor and expert assessments
• Build behavior change based on honest, relevant feedback
• Energize employees to engage in the success of their peers
• Allow untethered access so participants can practice skill development and mastery
• Encourage “just-in-time” training opportunities
• Significantly reduce the cost of on-site training by leveraging video-based practice sessions
How Generation Measures Success
The Generation team has already seen significant success in the RCA pilot program: with over 150+ graduates in Jacksonville, FL and Dallas, TX, 45% of graduates receive a promotion with their employers or find higher paying employment within 30 days of graduation with 78% showing 90-day+ job retention. As the Generation expands the use of Practice beyond their pilot RCA program, they plan to leverage multiple benefits:
• Mobile-ready experiences - With Practice, program participants are able to easily access their exercises when it’s convenient to them. “The feedback that we have received from students is that they like the ability to re-record themselves because it helps them prepare and adjust their videos. As a result of this review, they submit a better final version,” said Corinne Spears, Digital Strategy Manager at Generation. With over 96% of students accessing the exercises at home and on their phones, the ability to offer a mobile-ready solution helps enable many of the students to engage at a higher rate.
• Flexibility at scale - With Generation active in nine countries, across 69 cities and over 172 sites, and more regions coming on in the coming months, it is essential that their programs be scalable. The solution has to be flexible for instructors as well – across sectors and across locations. Creating industry-specific scenarios helps instructors engage their students in contextual content and complete the program when it’s convenient to them — from anywhere, at anytime.
• Action-based feedback - Practice enables Generation students to experience feedback easily and often. It does not restrict students to a time limit or require them to complete it in a specific location. “We are making changes to provide richer, more nuanced feedback that is more specific, actionable, evidence-based. This is critical because students can watch their body language and see what they normally wouldn’t be able to and make changes accordingly. It makes them much more aware of themselves but also learn from their peers,” said Alex Rudnick, U.S. Retail Program Manager.
Impact Learning: From a Generation Graduate
"The part of Generation’s training that resonates with me the most was the peer review. It gives me a chance to hear back from people like me who I socialize with the most, which is great. I love being able to tell people how they could improve or what they're doing well. It prepares me to talk to my co-workers that same way, like 'You did great on this' or 'Maybe next time you could try this.' It really helps me with coaching conversations, and I love people telling me the same thing."
-Mary Ann, Generation graduate (2018), Dallas, TX