There was a time when what one learnt in engineering school could be relevant for a whole career. People would need to upskill themselves once in a while to ensure they could stay in step with the evolution of technology. That’s not the case anymore. Rapid advancements in technology means that people in technology roles no longer have the luxury of one time learning or remaining an expert in one area. Given the current business environment, organizations need to ensure that they provide an always-on, continuous, learning environment to their employees. Changing employee expectations also means that this learning environment needs to be flexible and personalized, so people can take control of their learning, and truly chart their own journeys.
So how does Accenture ensure that? Srikanth NR, Managing Director, Lead – Human Resources, Accenture Advanced Technology Centers in India states that as a talent- and innovation-led, knowledge-intensive organization, continuous learning has always been a priority at Accenture.
“We have an innovative learning approach called Accenture Connected Learning, which replaces the traditional “one size fits all” curriculum-based learning with ‘learning of 1’ – which is highly customized for an individual and specialized to meet our people’s and clients’ needs. Accenture Connected Learning is the foundation of our learning and development approach,” reveals Srikanth.
The program provides an innovative learning environment that enables hyper-personalized learning delivering real-time, on-demand content such as nearly 2600 curated online learning boards, and supported by 100+ connected classrooms around the world.
Creating a habit of learning through ownership and experience
But keeping aside the technology, what powers the continuous learning program is Accenture’s firm belief that a business can only grow as fast as its people and the ownership lies with both parties to inculcate a culture of continuous learning. Employees need to continuously invest in learning to stay relevant and organizations should enable this through a content-rich ecosystem. Most importantly, organizations should focus on shifting the mindset from “training to learning” and continuously invest in new approaches to learning to make it experiential, engaging and self-satisfying.
“We believe learning happens all the time and anywhere, therefore it is necessary to enable people to learn at their pace in an environment that brings out their best and with people (cohorts) who are equally passionate about the same topic,” says Srikanth.
In this direction, the learning boards that have been developed by Accenture cover a wide range of topics and provide our employees with byte-sized learning modules. In addition, the learning agenda needs to firmly enmesh with the overall talent agenda of the organization. Since the talent agenda dovetails the overall business agenda, business alignment must be a key parameter while designing and driving the continuous learning agenda. People are keen to learn new skills once they are aware of the value it can bring.
Secondly, it’s important to develop customized programs based on the learning needs of the people across skills, business roles, and career levels, by inducing newer learning methodologies and leveraging the rich and diverse wealth of instantly available external content.
Lastly, the learning objective should translate to increased proficiency levels that can be demonstrated in real-world scenarios.
At Accenture’s Advanced Technology Centers in India (ATCI), the organization has sharpened its focus as an innovation-led organization and has invested significantly to enable its people to develop highly specialized skills. It encourages people to own their learning and build specialization in their respective areas to become deep experts. The firm provides them a holistic framework for learning that comprises the best of what Accenture and ecosystem partners have to offer, leveraging classroom, online and experiential learning.
Learning anytime, anywhere for everyone
Through Accenture Connected Learning, Accenture ensures that people can learn continuously and at their own pace, anywhere and anytime. It focuses on curating the best content available, delivered in an effective manner through virtual platforms/ video-based learning/ traditional classroom training, to facilitate rotation of our people to the new.
“We have continuously invested to make our people be NEW IT Conversant and develop highly specialized skills, using both internal and external platforms. Today, over 85 percent of our people at ATCI are ‘NEW IT’ conversant,” reveals Srikanth.
Illustrative learning approaches followed by the firm include:
● New IT Conversant and Job Ready Enablement Learning targeted at employees across all career levels to enable them to learn new technologies and be ready for applying their skills on jobs under the guidance of deep experts.
● Role-based Learning for upskilling the workforce at ATCI across career levels basis their current roles and skill combination, covering specialization in new areas such as Big Data, Data Visualization, Cloud Technologies, Artificial Intelligence, Security and Blockchain.
● Foundation Learning for entry level which has been recast to include new online content and specialized streams.
● Technology Primers and Specialization for Executive career levels ranging from Managers to Accenture Leadership.
● Refresher/ Upskill Learning for returning mothers to help them get staffed on projects quickly and ease their return to work after motherhood.
Linking learning to performance
While instituting learning programs that span a wide array of dimensions is welcome, the real impact can only be felt once metrics are put in place for tracking the success of these programs. Just as the organization has curated several learning paths across career levels spanning various dimensions of skills and roles, at every stage, it measures their proficiency levels and coaches them to move to higher levels. Above all, it has also linked performance rewards, work experiences, and recognition for those who achieve higher proficiency levels.
In this way, employees are encouraged to learn new skills and build expertise, which in turn provides them with opportunities to work on leading edge engagements.
What further strengthens learning is re-booting and refreshing one’s learning strategy. And continuity is what Accenture also believes in.
“Learning is a continuous process. At ATCI, we are constantly refining and streamlining existing training programs to ensure our curriculum and approach is relevant to the business environment,” reveals Srikanth.
Over 80% of Accenture’s workforce has been trained in new skills such as Blockchain, AI, Machine Learning, Agile Methodologies, and emerging industry trends. Thus by offering new, rich and personalized learning programs on emerging technologies, methodologies, innovations and paradigms, Accenture is continuously striving to create a future-ready workforce.