The present investigation assessed the putative benefits of reducing instructions for older adults' learning of an assembly task. Young and older adults had to build a product by assembling six components. Two groups practiced following instruction methods that differed in the degree of explicit information they conveyed about the correct assembly order. After practice, retention, consolidation of performance (tested immediately after practice and on a separate day, respectively) and stability of performance (tested by introducing a concurrent second task) were assessed. Younger adults showed similar performance levels for both instruction methods. Older adults, however, showed similar retention but clearly weaker consolidation and stability of performance following less encompassing instructions. Contrary to expectations, enhancing the involvement of explicit processes allowed older adults to gain a more permanent and stable performance improvements. The findings are discussed relative to the characteristics of the assembly task. Practitioner Summary: We addressed how performance and learning of older adults in an assembly task can be optimised through different types of instruction. The findings suggest that increasing awareness of task characteristics enhance not only long-term performance, but also resilience against distraction. Future work must evaluate if these findings generalise to more complex tasks. © 2014 Taylor & Francis.