Bridging the skills gap with continuous education
Winning organizations must adopt a culture that embraces lifelong learning
The global talent crisis, a subject of countless papers and research reports, demands our attention. ManpowerGroup’s 2017 Talent Shortage Survey highlights that nearly forty-five percent of employers globally, the highest number in over a decade, are facing an acute shortage of qualified and skilled professionals.1 Compounding this alarming figure is India, which at fifty-six percent is experiencing an even greater and unprecedented skill scarcity. A contributing factor to this is the immense economic change India is undergoing; it is estimated that the Indian workforce will increase from the current 473 million to approximately 600 million by 2022.2
As the country’s workforce continues to shift towards information technology and business process outsourcing sectors, there is a further possibility of 2.5 to 3 million job opportunities opening in this sector by 2025, if the necessary skills are possessed.3 That this is the case should surprise no one. India has the highest proportion of digital talent.4 It is a position the Indian government is keen on maintaining, having recently doubled its budget allocation for the Digital India program to $480 million in 2018-19. The Indian government also plans to further support the development of a digitally skilled workforce through the establishment of Centers of Excellence.5
Meeting the demands of the digital workplace
Such a heavy reliance on technology puts pressure on organizations to ensure their workforce possesses the skills to keep current with the frenetic pace of technology. Digital transformation is realigning technology and business models, as well as driving processes to deliver new values and experiences for customers and employees. Organizations and employees alike must now acquire knowledge and understanding of data analytics, mobility, social media, smart embedded devices and both new technologies and traditional technologies as well as how they are revolutionizing customer relationships, internal processes, business models and value propositions.
Only 55 percent of Indian employees think leadership is committed to closing the digital skills gap which means regardless of the strategies designed or meetings held to address the issue, workers are feeling a disconnect and worry about their job prospects
How organizations in India achieve this match will determine not only their success but also the success of the Indian economy. While many executives acknowledge the problem this poses, employees mostly do not feel leaders are leading on change. Only fifty-five percent of Indian employees think leadership is committed to closing the digital skills gap which means regardless of the strategies designed or meetings held to address the issue, workers are feeling a disconnect and worry about their job prospects.6
Learning while working
Ensuring that organizations provide employees with the necessary upskilling opportunities is posing a serious challenge. Employees have little time during the work week available for learning. From research by Deloitte, we know the average employee only has 24 minutes a week to learn.7 With so little time, it becomes imperative that any learning completed is practical and applicable to not just the individual but also to the overall progression of the organization.
Key to this objective is ensuring that L&D efforts are personalized for the individual needs of the employee. Content needs to be tailored to the employee’s knowledge today and their future requirements. Access is also critical – learners need to be able to access content from their smartphones, laptops, at work or home and whenever and wherever they are. In order to really impact an employee’s future, programs should map job roles and competencies to development paths, provide actionable insight to learning administrators to increase utilization of learning resources, track individual and collective user behaviors and make recommendations based on this data.
Meeting the expectations of learners
The corporate learning landscape is shifting in response to the rising demands and expectations of employees. An organization’s chosen learning solution must allow employees to search, find, and watch micro-learning videos, read books, and listen to audiobooks right where and when they need to. Learners no longer expect to switch between work and learning; they want to see it happen simultaneously. This is why anyone responsible for deciding what learning solution to select should consider another of Bersin’s findings.
The Bersin by Deloitte Talent Maturity Model demonstrates that high performing organizations are those who intentionally design technology systems, processes, and practices that all work together to enable employees to have the information, capabilities, behaviors, and resources they need when they need them. Further, these organizations are increasingly developing their capability to “listen at scale” to the feedback of employees, so that they can rapidly customize their approach to workers, the work itself, or the market.8
Josh Bersin believes the future of corporate learning is “Learning in the Flow of Work®.” In other words, learning must now fit into the daily schedule and align directly, or personally, with each learner’s needs.9 Learning in the Flow of Work can be interpreted different ways — it can be a browser plug-in which embeds learning into applications such as Salesforce.com. It could also be ensuring that learners can access content from their collaboration tool like Slack.
The future of corporate learning is ™Learning in the Flow of Work® in other words, learning must align directly or personally with each learner's needs
Providing personalized learning and development paths is just one side of the coin. The flipside is an organizational culture change and the integration of continuous learning as a core value recognized from the top down – the concept of “Employer as Educator.”
The most successful organizations adopt a growth mindset, one where managers and leaders are invested in growing and developing people and cultivating an expectation for constant improvement within every employee. No longer can we view time spent on learning and professional development as “taking away” from executing on behalf of the organization. This means linking employee compensation to ongoing skill acquisition and development where performance reviews include learning achievement and goals. Only when continuous learning is adopted wholly and completely throughout the entire enterprise will organizations see any resolution to the ongoing skill shortages.