What Motivates Adult Learners

It’s already established that continuous professional training is necessary to ensure that your employees are always ready to adapt to ever-changing industry standards. With a future-proof workforce, it’s easier to stay productive and ahead of the competition.

The problem is that it can be challenging to motivate adults to learn, usually due to a shift in priorities. There’s also the matter of time and financial constraints, not to mention dispositional barriers that may have stemmed from previous negative educational experiences.

Thankfully, motivating adult learners is not an impossible task. It’s just a matter of finding the things that can compel them to take action and appreciate learning. Here are just a few:


In a lot of respects, children are easier to teach because they expect the adults to take charge. All they have to do is await instruction and participate in the activities that their teachers have prepared for them. They’re also eager to learn and study because everything is new to them.

Conversely, adults prefer to be a little more in control and decide for themselves. They want to be more involved, instead of just being passive observers. Thus, it might be a good idea to invite them to planning sessions so that they can contribute to the development of the learning programme.

One way to do this is to ask them about pain points that can be addressed by skills and/or tech training. You can also compile a list of interests, so you can shape your training courses in relation to such topics.

It’s also important to consider the different ways that people prefer to learn. Some might be more comfortable with text-based online learning, while others might fare better with videos. There are also those who still prefer traditional classroom set-ups. If you can, provide multiple options so that learners can optimise their progress.


Not all adults have a lot of spare time. In fact, many will have to reshuffle their entire schedules to accommodate a single training course. This means that if you’re going to make them go through all that effort to make time, the programme must be worth their while.

To make adults more receptive or even eager to learn, choose a subject that’s relevant to their professional and personal goals. In addition, the courses must be straightforward so that they don’t feel like a waste of time.

Finally, training courses must be practical. Things like first aid or health and safety training are often well-received because the skills acquired are transferable in real-world applications.

Growth and Progress

In relation to the previous point, most adults refuse to join training programmes because they can’t see what’s in it for them. If this is the case, you might be able to motivate them if you make learning all about their growth and progress and not that of your business.

Remember: employees want to work for employers who care. If your people view training as an instrument for your success only, then they’ll likely be reluctant. Make it a point to emphasise that continuous is all about their professional growth and progress. Your company’s success is secondary to them acquiring more skills to build their career.

Credibility of the Source

As earlier mentioned, children are easier to teach because they know that other people (aka, the adults) know more than they do. Meanwhile, adults are less trusting. They want to know that they’re in good hands before they let others take the reins.

The good thing here is that it’s easy to resolve this issue: find a credible training provider. Check if the instructors are both duly licenced and have industry experience. If you can, verify the source of the teaching materials. These can make your employees more receptive to training.

It may even be more beneficial to you if you train trainers within your ranks. Select a couple of your people whom other employees trust, and then find programmes to have them certified as trainers. This way, you don’t have to struggle too much about establishing rapport.


Sometimes, the only reason that employees don’t or aren’t able to undergo training is that it’s inaccessible to them. Budget is a big factor; a large number of programmes (understandably) require payment that not all your employees may be able to afford out of pocket.

Time is also an important consideration. Some of your employees may have children, for example, and workplace training might mean reducing family time. It may even require hiring babysitters, which cycles back to the financial constraints mentioned earlier.

This means that if you can eliminate these barriers, more of your employees will be more than willing—even eager—to train. Of course, it would be helpful to know the specific struggles of your employees so you can enact the appropriate solutions.

Most of the time, professional training is not about willingness. Indeed, many employees already have that desire to improve their earning capacity and invest in themselves. What you need to do is stoke that desire and turn it into motivation.

Hopefully, this list can help you sort things out and make your employees more enthusiastic about continuous learning.

Learn with us at CC Training Academy.