Remaining Relevant By Continual Learning in Industry 4.0

Remaining Relevant By Continual Learning in Industry 4.0

June 9, 2020

ACKTEC Technologies CEO Rayvan Ho and Business Executive Annabelle Tan discuss the latest trends in corporate learning and development and argues that while ongoing training is crucial to staying relevant in the job market, not all learning is a must-have…

By Rayvan Ho & Annabelle Tan

The future chugs on. Already, occupations that did not exist a decade ago – like digital marketing specialists, big data analysts, and market research data miners – are rising to prominence. As digitization, automation, and artificial intelligence proliferate, the world of work is facing a paradigm shift, and moving into uncharted territories.

In this changing landscape, it is learn or be left behind; for businesses to stay relevant, corporate training is no longer just a “perk”, but a “must-have”. According to a survey by the World Economic Forum, employees will need an average of 101 days of retraining and upskilling between 2018 and 2022 in order to cope with the demands of a rapidly-changing jobs landscape. By 2030, a whopping 14 percent of all workers across the global workforce need to reskill and switch occupations in order to remain competitive.

Defining must-have learning

Business leaders are listening. In response to the growing need for upskilling and reskilling, the global expenditure on employee training has increased year on year for the past decade, hitting USD 370.3 billion in 2019. Yet, even as more money is funneled into training and development programs, the question of how effective these programmes are — and how much of this expenditure is translated into actual Return of Investment still remains to be accounted for.

According to an article in the Harvard Business Review in 2016:

  • 75% of 1,500 managers surveyed from across 50 organizations were dissatisfied with their company’s Learning & Development (L&D) function
  • 70% of employees report that they don’t have mastery of the skills needed to do their jobs
  • Only 12% of employees apply new skills learned in L&D programmes to their jobs
  • Only 25% of respondents to a McKinsey survey (2016) believe that training measurably improved performance; and
  • Not only is the majority of training in today’s companies ineffective, but the purpose, timing, and content of training is flawed.

In Singapore, only 17% of employees are satisfied with the company’s L&D, with 40% of workers quitting their jobs due to lack of skills training. There is clearly more to be done – but not all kinds of corporate training are ‘must-haves’. Unless training is targeted and effective, this expenditure is simply throwing money into the void.

Corporate training needs to change to produce results:

Learning must happen at the right time. Learning cannot be excised from real-world situations. Effective learning is applied learning: What they learn needs to be immediately put into practice in a relevant situation. With prompt feedback, they can quickly understand their shortcomings and gaps in learning, and internalize what they’ve practiced.

Learning must be relevant. Present corporate training is standardised and implemented at specific phases across all employees, which may have little immediate relevance to their role. Rather than this, training needs to address the immediate requirements of their jobs. This links up with the point above – effective training addresses problems and issues directly at-hand, so employees can immediately put what they have learnt into practice.

Learning in the digital age. Learning needs to be more tethered and more in the flow of work, and doing this requires leveraging on technology. The smartphone is transforming lives, from the way we communicate to the way we learn. With mobile learning, businesses can administer learning anytime, anywhere, which means learners can pick up knowledge when they need it, where they need it.

The rise of artificial intelligence has also enabled personalized solutions and content, making it easier for businesses to deliver learner-centered training. With the COVID-19 pandemic keeping people out of their workplaces and institutions, edtech is going through a trial by fire – and has shown itself to be indispensable in facilitating learning in the here-and-now.

To address the evolving needs of the current jobs landscape, we are seeing the following big trends within the edtech ecosystem:

Scaling learning through the use of digital platforms. Shifting away from the old paradigm where staff attends occasional face-to-face courses, corporations are taking their training to digital platforms that support learning that is virtual, global and more scalable. Employees can work anywhere, be it at home or outside, at different places and time zones, and still be connected to the heart of the business, where constant learning and development can take place on a daily basis.

Learning in the flow of work with microlearning. Training no longer requires taking time off to attend lengthy workshops. Rather than disrupting the day’s work, corporate training has become a powerful tool to enhance employees’ skills or knowledge deficit at the time and place in which this upskilling is necessary.

Organisations are moving towards the development of well-designed learning ecosystems that create a culture of learning, where corporate training becomes a natural part of the daily work of every employee – and microlearning plays a big part in the trend. Short, honed-in on what is immediately relevant to the employee’s role and professional development, and administered on-the-job, microlessons make the most of each employee’s precious time. Learning content is broken down to bite-sized lessons which are quick and easy to consume.

Microlessons make learning natural and unobtrusive, by enabling employees to learn and re-learn at their own pace and as necessary – allowing them to augment their skills in real-life situations and on-the-job.

High-value learning is not just about content, but delivery too. It’s not just what we learn, but also how.  Equal weight needs to be put on the content of your courses, and the delivery — including the choice of learning resources used during training, and the overall learning experience employees have.

Moving towards a learner-centric model supported by technology makes the development of performance support aids, videos, immersive learning content and interactivity between learners and facilitators essential. Mixed reality can be used to represent real-world situations, allowing employees to simulate on-the-job experience, while AI-driven intelligent and machine learning technologies can help better predict the evolving employee needs. Corporate training is moving towards learning content which is much more immersive, aligned to the real work environment and targeted at the specific needs of each learner.

While corporate training increasingly moves into the flow of work, it is increasingly vital to develop education ecosystems where all employees play their part in engaging and supporting learning. Since digital learning may not be a norm for people who grew up before the internet, it is key to establish and encourage vibrant learning communities where time and technology support meaningful interactions and the sharing of ideas and practice across all employees.

(Ed. To learn more about ACKTEC Technologies, click here.)



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