Skilling is an integral part of transforming nations and businesses in today’s world. Considering the unpredictability of the future, it presents the biggest opportunity and challenge of the decade. The speed and scale of upskilling and reskilling human capital will determine which countries and organizations gain a sustainable competitive advantage over others.
The pandemic has further accelerated this race towards the future of work by boosting digitization and automation efforts. And in this race, agility is the key transformation driver.. countries and organizations alike must invest time and money to upskill and reskill their workforce to be able to adapt and adjust to this new order. However, the recent Mercer Global Talent Trends report states that only 45 percent of the current workforce is adaptable to the new world of work. The Question of the hour is no longer who can adapt, but rather, how best to develop an adaptable workforce.
The Modern-Day Learner is eager to learn, as 78% of employees say they are ready to reskill. Additionally, employees increasingly equate investment in their marketability as part of their total reward proposition, with 63% of them trusting their company to invest in their skills. These trends show that investing in the future of learning, measuring skill levels, and workforce reskilling will be the top priorities of many organizations in the current decade. The changing market needs, uncertain future, and the continuous job redefinition and redeployment of human talent mean that learning has to become a vital part of the larger business plan and that the L&D function needs to be empowered. Where are we today and how some organizations are adapting for the future?
In a session at People Matters TechHR SEA 2021, Annee Bayeux, Chief Learning Strategist, EdCast, Krystal Irving, Product Area Lead – Learning Culture, Strategy, Channels & Technology, ANZ Bank and Ozzier Khan, Director- Digital Innovation Sandbox Program, Asian Development Bank deliberated on these questions.
Here are some excerpts from the discussion.
Reskilling in the era of digital transformation
The World Economic Forum predicts tech disruption and automation will give rise to 133 million new jobs in the coming years. Many of these roles will be redefined and upgraded versions of existing ones. One approach is to view digital technologies as an inherent part of the workforce and fuse the two concepts into building a ‘digital workforce.’
The digital workforce of the future encompasses modern technology and tools, alongside the human side of work. Building a digital workforce naturally would require the identification and expansion of relevant digital skills. These skills will vary from industry to industry and depend on the pace of the transformation. It is also equally important to be cognizant of ensuring access to these new skills without discrimination and help the workforce apply their knowledge in the real-world scenario. This will train our workforce to operate in increasingly digital workplaces and combine our cognitive abilities with modern tools and technologies.
Focus on the basics first
The banking industry worldwide is experiencing a rapid pace of digital transformation and struggling to find the right talent. Many players in the industry have embraced digital technologies and helped their workforce get acquainted with the changing landscape. ANZ Bank, for instance, with its workforce of 45,000+ employees, created a learning platform powered by EdCast, focusing on 14 fundamental digital skills that can help build strategic organizational capabilities.
The organization has a decade-long plan to ensure continuous learning of its employees and create a stable foundation of the basic skills required to thrive in today’s world. What’s more, the learning framework has been kept flexible to incorporate new and emerging trends to help the organization get ready for the future. The bank considers this investment crucial in building a stable future and doesn’t want to risk being left behind.
Challenges to building the organizational learning framework
The LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report 2021 states that upskilling and reskilling are among the top agendas for the L&D function. Still, many organizations struggle to build a holistic learning model and keep it relevant as per emerging technologies and trends.
One of the biggest reasons for this is a gap between the leadership, managers, and L&D as to what the learning goals are. The acceptance of a shared understanding about being honest regarding existing capabilities and building an enterprise-level acceptance of where you want to be is critical. This common ground helps in steering the overall L&D strategy in the right direction, particularly in large organizations that have set processes and policies.
The second and other common challenge is building motivation at the individual level. Balancing the push and the pull, the carrot, and the stick, and ensuring a stable momentum is vital for the success of learning interventions. Thus, in many cases, the mindset change is a bigger challenge than the actual training process. Once a digital-oriented growth mindset has been inculcated, the frameworks, tools, and processes can be designed accordingly.
Organizational learning: Best practices from success stories
At ANZ Bank, a program called ‘Creating Digital Minds’ that contains curated content to help learners understand the basics of new skills in a blended experience has shown great promise. By combining the learning and application process, the program keeps the awareness and motivation levels consistently high and helps the learner continually re-learn and re-experience vital knowledge and concepts.
Many employees voluntarily come back to the program to expand their skills, even when they aren’t told to, or the training isn’t mandatory. A big part of this behavior is the real-time progress that employees can recognize through assessments that show how much they have improved.
Similarly, at the Asian Development Bank, a ‘Digital Fitness’ program has been designed on the lines of a digital gym. Learners get personal trainers assigned, progress is measured, and activities are conducted. The objective has been to make digital learning part and parcel of being at work and helping employees learn the developments happening in the industry at the macro level.
In addition, learners have been provided access to various premium sources of knowledge and content – all in a single place, to help them explore beyond the organizational framework. This virtualization of learning has been accompanied with the right mentorship and support as well. The organization has been successful in seamlessly integrating learning as a part of the learner’s routine instead of being an additional burden that many learning tasks eventually become.
Learning to build a better future: The final word
Today more than ever, the importance of learning in the workplace is essential, for it can help us tide over current disruptions and lay the foundation for the future. Learning is inseparable from an organization’s overall growth strategy today. Organizations that are struggling to get leadership buy-in or involvement need to show the significant impact and improvement of learning interventions on the company’s tangible and intangible assets. L&D professionals across organizations can replicate the success stories of ANZ Bank and ADB, by evaluating and deploying new-age L&D platforms, Like the one offered by EdCast, to operate end-to-end employee experience journeys spanning learning, skilling, and career mobility.
(This article is based on the session "The Skilling Revolution: Disruption Drives Reinvention," held as a part of Tech HR 2021 on 5-May-2021. The session was moderated by Annee Bayeux, Chief Learning Strategist, EdCast, and saw the participation of Krystal Irving, Product Area Lead – Learning Culture, Strategy, Channels & Technology, ANZ Bank and Ozzier Khan, Director- Digital Innovation Sandbox Program, Asian Development Bank)