Skilling in the new world of work requires companies to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to using the right technologies. We sat with Ritesh Malhotra, Enterprise Head, Great Learning and Ankita Sharma, Vice President, Human Resources at Great Learning to understand more about what is driving skill changes today and its impact on their learning initiatives. We also delve deep into how learning platforms like Great Learning are helping companies accelerate their upskilling results
Here are a few excerpts from our conversation:
From your vantage point, what are the business and technological forces that you see reshaping the future of skills demand in 2023?
Ritesh: Business needs and client demands drive skill demands, and technology accelerates this process. For example, in a world driven by data, organisations want the entire workforce, across functions and levels, to be fluent in data, which requires data literacy programs. This data, both organisational and client's, needs to be protected from theft or damage, which will then require skilled cybersecurity specialists.
Additionally, we have skills that evolve based on industry demands, such as blockchain especially for the BFSI industry and AI, robotics engineering, and EV design in the automotive industry.
Great Learning makes it our mandate to predict the upskilling needs that enterprise partners require, through industry research, analysis of data, and collaboration/feedback from enterprise leaders. This helps us build the competencies required to drive better products and services for our clients.
Upskilling has been an important mechanism through which companies can address skill gaps. How do you see the skilling landscape evolve in 2023?
Ritesh: When businesses invest in upskilling their employees, they are more likely to remain competitive in an increasingly complex and dynamic business environment. So they are providing more opportunities for employees to keep themselves updated through continuous learning programs. Per Great Learning’s Upskilling Trends Report 2023, the most in-demand skills among enterprises are digital skills, including those related to data science, AI/ML, cloud computing, cybersecurity, and digital marketing.
L&D and Business Unit heads understand that they need industry experts to provide practical training that is up to the industry’s current standards. Partnerships with learning partners like Great Learning not only provide them with access to these experts for multiple domains but also the technology to train employees at scale.
A trend we have observed is that enterprises are focusing more on experiential learning to ensure that the employees hit the ground running. Real-world case studies and guidance from industry experts, supplemented by virtual labs and hackathons, allow the learners to grasp concepts more effectively and apply them to their job roles.
Another strategic approach for enterprises is to work with learning partners like Great Learning to make their freshers ready for deployment at scale in a short period of time. For our enterprise partners, we complete about 80% of training before the freshers’ first day at work, making them billable faster and reducing training costs. In addition, to address skill gaps for existing employees, Great Learning also delivers reskilling programs for laterals who need additional skills based on the client or the job role’s requirements.
Given these changes in the external learning landscape,what are some important upgrades you are planning to bring in your skilling programs to build a future-ready workforce at your company?
Ankita: As an organisation we believe in striking a balance between on-the-job learning through getting involved in more complex problem-solving and upskilling through more traditional learning methodologies. Our performance management processes help us in identifying the opportunities for individuals’ upskilling. We then translate these into learning plans that align with the overall goals and objectives of the organisation. These could consist of behavioural interventions or technical programs that will help employees grow as well as succeed in their current roles. We will continue to invest in our employees’ professional development and continuous learning that will help them adapt quickly to this ever changing landscape
Hybrid work has today has become the mainstay across different workplaces. What have been some of the critical challenges to learning that you have faced and how would you suggest companies create learning programs that are impactful?
Ankita: Hybrid working is here to stay for some time and we have had to adapt to the new reality fairly quickly as well. Wavering attention spans, external distractions, limited interactions are all common challenges that we have had to face too. Having said that, we are in the business of online education and therefore have been able to borrow some best practices in how we approach learning.
Most of our training initiatives are blended and emphasis on self-paced learning. The training content is designed in a manner that the learners have to invest in some pre-read / coursework to be completed before the actual training. This ensures that the time spent in-person during the live sessions is richer and more immersive with enhanced learner participation. This has helped us keep the employees excited about our learning sessions and we are also able to utilise the hybrid model more judiciously.
What has been the role of learning technologies in making skilling more relevant, personalised, and immersive for a multi-generational workforce? How have you been able to bring in similar changes at Great Learning?
Ankita: The first principle of our learning philosophy is flexibility. Our training programs are a blend of self-paced learning and classroom sessions. Every employee is entitled to an annual Learning Allowance which they can use for upskilling themselves , no questions asked. We do play a part in guiding the employees in choosing the right programs that will help in their professional journeys, but employees can choose to use this allowance for learning whatever they deem fit. We also offer attractive discounts for employees if they want to enrol in any course offered by Great Learning. These courses could be in a completely different skill area from the employees’ current domain. Essentially, we let our employees personalise their learning journeys and allow them to up-skill / cross-skill / re-skill as often as they want to.
Ritesh: Being an edtech company, we have to continuously innovate and upgrade our ways of delivering our programs to make personalised and adaptive learning more feasible. Nearly all of Great Learning for Business’ training programs are customised to the client’s requirements and intended business outcomes. And we make them relevant and immersive by incorporating virtual instructor-led training for anywhere, anytime learning; multiple assessments; hackathons; sector-specific use cases; and virtual labs that help the learners prepare for their roles better. A combination of live sessions and self-paced content allow learners of different age groups and experience to learn at a pace comfortable for them.