Article: Strategic partnerships: How to choose the right partner for skill development?

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Strategic partnerships: How to choose the right partner for skill development?

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To make the most of a skills partnership, leaders must exercise caution in choosing the right partner in the learning transformation journey.
Strategic partnerships: How to choose the right partner for skill development?

Today, job seekers are encountering difficulties in securing employment that matches their skill sets while employers grapple with the challenge of finding qualified talent.

Rapid technological advancements and shifts in industry requirements have led to a skills gap where traditional education and training often lag behind real-world needs.

Bridging this gap requires a concerted effort from educational institutions, industries, and policymakers to align learning outcomes with current workforce demands and promote ongoing skill development and upskilling opportunities.

While some organisations are creating their own programs to resolve this disconnect, most organisations are working with skills partners.

Consider this: A large majority of (86%) of organisations already work with Skills partners, but only 22% said they extensively engage with partners, according to a dipstick study by People Matters and Skillsoft on “Strategizing for Skills Transformation”

But why should companies engage in strategic partnerships in the first place? Can they not build their own curriculum?

The Importance of Strategic Skill Partnerships

Strategic partnerships in skill development offer a pathway to resolve learning challenges through active collaboration, resource-sharing, and knowledge transfer.

Strategic collaborations enable the development of customized training programs and educational initiatives. These initiatives focus on the specific skills that are in high demand, effectively bridging the gap between individuals' capabilities and the requirements of the job market. These partnerships allow organisations to tap into industry leaders, educational institutions, and technology, enriching the learning experience with real-world insights and cutting-edge knowledge. Additionally, they open doors to innovative learning methodologies and pedagogical approaches, enabling a more dynamic and engaging skill development process.

Lastly, through strategic partnerships, access to targeted training programs becomes not only feasible but also optimised, ensuring that individuals acquire the precise skills needed for success.

How do you choose the right strategic skills partner?

Choosing the right partners in skill development through strategic collaborations is a critical step in ensuring the success of any initiative. Here are some points to consider:

Analyse Alignment with Learning Goals and Values

One of the foundational elements to consider when choosing a partner is the alignment of learning goals and values. It's crucial that both parties share a common vision for any skill development program and have similar values, ethics, and objectives. Misalignments in this area can lead to conflicts and hinder the progress of skill development initiatives.

Different organisations may have distinct corporate cultures, communication styles, and approaches to problem-solving. Some questions you can ask are:

  • Are the pedagogical approaches in alignment with your learning strategy?
  • Can your employee demography align well with the proposed learning approaches?
  • Are your values in alignment with the partner’s learning philosophy?
  • Can the skills partner complement the company’s skills and competency framework?

Assess Industry and Business Expertise

Assess whether your potential partner possesses resources, expertise, or capabilities that complement your organisation's own strengths. By doing so, you can leverage the synergies created by combining different skill sets and assets, maximising the impact of your collaboration.

Additionally, the track record of potential partners should be scrutinised. Research their history, past collaborations, and any notable achievements or challenges they've faced.

  • Does the learning partner have successful case studies in your industry?
  • Do they have the potential to meet the specific needs of your business and workforce?
  • Are they able to actively collaborate, pivot and give strategic learning input to use cases in your industry?

Evaluate Learning Support Potential

The potential of a strategic partner can also be measured by their commitment of resources, both human and financial, to support the learning process. Additionally, an assessment of their infrastructure, technology, and facilities should ensure that the learning environment is conducive to effective skill development.

Partners must establish key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics to measure progress and assess the impact of their collaborative efforts. Regularly reviewing these metrics allows partners to identify areas that require improvement and make data-driven decisions to optimise skill development programs.

  • Does the skills partner have the right technology in place to support the learning goals?
  • Do they have the potential to identify areas of support in the employee learning journey?
  • Can they share regular metrics to review and make changes/ pivots as required?

Examine Capacity to Establish Clear Roles and Responsibilities

Effective partnerships thrive on well-defined roles and responsibilities. Each partner's contributions should be articulated clearly to avoid confusion and duplication of efforts.

Defining who does what and when is essential to streamline processes and ensure accountability. Whether it's the curriculum design, training delivery, or monitoring and evaluation, a partnership's success depends on a harmonious distribution of tasks that plays to each partner's strengths.

  • Does the partner have a framework for decision-making and conflict resolution?
  • Are they able to address issues promptly and amicably?
  • Have they demonstrated a willingness to learn from past collaborations?

The significance of strategic partnerships in the realm of skill development cannot be overstated. The synergy created by combining resources and knowledge not only addresses the skills gap but also fosters a dynamic and adaptable learning environment.

The future of skill development is intrinsically tied to collaboration. As industries continue to evolve and technologies advance, the need for adaptable and specialised skills will persist. Strategic partnerships will play an even more pivotal role in shaping the landscape of education and training.

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Topics: Skilling, Learning & Development, #GetSetLearn

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