More than ever, businesses are witnessing an accelerated need to nurture lifelong learning mindsets and boost digital, analytical, and technical skills. Companies that continue to invest in training and offer continuous learning opportunities for their talent will emerge as winners on the other side of this crisis.
What are these new workplace learning paradigms that COVID-19 has pushed into the spotlight – from learning to staying relevant? What can organizations do to reinvent learning this year and build a continuous learning culture?
In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Subbu Vishwanathan, Co-founder and CEO of Disprz, an AI-powered skilling suite, which is the Diamond Partner for People Matters TechHR SEA 2021, sheds light on these questions and the changing face of learning.
Continuous reinvention is the need of the hour. What can organizations do to reinvent learning and skilling this year?
This year and the last have been about unlearning what you thought works best for your organization. Organizations have to ensure that any skilling initiatives they implement now should be sustainable enough to ensure continuous reinvention this year.
The ones that are investing in digital learning interventions with innovative tools for skilling and continuous learning of their employees are the ones who will be able to retain their top talent and create future-ready leaders.
“Make skill building a critical strategic lever for adapting to the evolving normal. Start now, test, and iterate rapidly. Aligning learning with business objectives is bullet-proofing your L&D efforts.”
Most companies that have launched successful reskilling programs were better able to address skill gaps caused by technological disruptions or implement new business models or strategies.
How can technology act as an enabler to bridge the skills gap in an organization?
Technology solves more skilling challenges than just bridging skill gaps.
At Disprz, we map and ascertain the right skills needed for each individual job role within every department for our customers. This gives them a clear picture of the skills needed in the future for the current roles in your organization. They also get a clear view of career progressions and suggestions based on the current skill scores. This is just the first step. A robust skilling plan is then created tailored to each individual's interests, preferences, and career plan.
We personalize and adapt the skilling plan for each individual, using AI to recommend content from a large repository of resources, recommend on-the-job micro-experiences to apply the learning, use skill analytics for regular assessments and evaluations to help bridge essential skill gaps.
Tech also puts the learner at the center of the learning cycle. At Disprz, we offer both blended and self-paced learning approaches. For learning to be effective, it’s important to make it social, intuitive, and engaging. Customers use our diversified formats of learning, right from bite-sized content to live A/V sessions and Gameinar, our gamified live training tool to keep their workforce skilled and engaged regularly.
Tech is also used to encourage collaboration between the manager and reportees, foster autonomy and responsibility and automate a feedback loop, which helps assess the effectiveness of the learning process.
What are some of the ways in which organizations can build a continuous learning culture?
Culture needs to be set from the top. Some ways in which a continuous learning culture can be built are:
● The C-Suite and the VP suite should lead the way - the org leaders should spend more time learning and upskilling and should communicate the same to their teams. The very action of the CEO talking about what podcasts she listened to or what course she took makes everybody aware that this is the practice that is expected from an agile learning organization.
● Formalize learning - right now the challenge for learning is not the availability of content or resources but the availability of time. So, creating structured learning blocks where people learn together, either in a supervised live environment or in a supervised self-paced environment is important. We at Disprz have learning days for various departments in our company when we drop everything else and learn something new as a group.
● Make learning a core KPI - from our experience of dealing with over 150 companies globally, the companies that create a learning culture use both the carrot and the stick.
“Making 10% of your KPIs devoted to learning metrics is a sure-shot way to ensure learning is adopted organization-wide.”
What do you think are some of the skills that employees need to build in 2021 in order to be future-proof?
I would break the skills into two halves, depending on what part of the organization ladder an employee is in:
● Early-career employees should focus on core functional skills that are in demand - data analytics, cloud computing, and data science are important skills. Data analytics is the ability to use data that is out there, interpret it and use it to drive decision making - you need not be able to build a fancy deep learning model. I believe this is an important skill for every executive today. Coming to data science, there are lots of stats about how we will not have enough data scientists to meet the demand - so the core data science skills of AI / ML, Deep Learning, Text Mining, etc., will be in demand. I also think data scientists will start branching into generalists and specialists on text, image, video, etc. Likewise, for software engineers, cloud computing will be an important skill and so will cybersecurity.
● Mid-career employees should focus more on team management skills of managing virtual teams, building high-performing virtual teams, and virtual talent management. There is such a big change in the world today that for the first time in history, a big chunk of world GDP is getting delivered without people seeing face to face.
Leaders have also started recognizing the need for skills like Emotional Intelligence, critical thinking, creative problem solving, and the ability to collaborate in a team.
What do you think are going to be some of the dominant trends in LearnTech this year?
There are three major trends that I’d like to talk about here.
We have seen more organizations adopting a mobile skilling platform, varying from LMS to LXP to Skill Cloud. There are three cases of adoption where companies that don’t have a high digital learning maturity adopt an LMS for the first time. Companies that have LMS, move to an LXP, and companies that have both adopt a customized skill cloud solution. We are the only organization that offers a full-skill stack solution across the three aforementioned cases.
There has been an explosion of video-based content in the last few years. At the same time, we have also witnessed immersive learning experiences gaining momentum in the learning and development world, like AR/VR, simulation and game-based learning and assessments. There’s a lot of demand for experiential learning, which means that employers need to continuously innovate in the way they engage with their workforce. I believe we will see more of this trend in a couple of years from now.
We will also see a rapid growth in Virtual Facilitation, which means trainings will now be more virtual, as we realize that face-to-face training is not feasible anymore.
Trainers will not be restricted to a particular region, which will allow them to train and connect with more learners at one time. So all platforms that provide virtual facilitation in diversified formats and the ones which help connect facilitators with organizations will see some growth.