In the last few years, the great reshuffle, war for talent, adoption of hybrid workspaces, upcoming recession and emergence of newer technologies such as AI and automation have been major drivers affecting the workplace and the workforce. As a result of these changes, skills requirements for jobs have been evolving rapidly. As leaders and organisations understand its implications on hiring, recruitment, retention and engagement, there is a need to look at learning and career development so as to upskill and reskill employees to be future-ready. But how does one fulfil the skills gap to empower organisations?
In an exclusive interview with Sameer Nigam, CEO, Stratbeans, ahead of the People Matters L&D India Conference 2022, we speak to the disruptive leader on the challenges in L&D and its snowball effect on HR function, what is it that new-age learners are looking for and how can organisations design learning solutions based on these needs, the role of learning solutions and what can we, as a community do to close the skills gap in the future.
Nigam, who is a keen follower of disruptive technologies and the many ways of creating new business opportunities through them, has over three decades of experience working in the learning and development space. At Stratbeans, he has been eager to build digital learning products and solutions to improve employee performance and engagement. With a distributed workforce across several industries today, he has also introduced multilingual learning management systems and is working towards many more innovative solutions. Excerpts from the interview:
What are the big disruptions in skills demand that leaders and organisations are grappling with today? How does it impact today’s corporate L&D space?
In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, the requirements of skills are quite fragile as you can’t bet on one set of skills, especially in technical fields. The greatest outcome of the technology revolution is that there is a large bouquet one can pick from and hence, it is difficult for leaders to choose and decide what is it that they should focus their attention on and what are the fads that can be ignored.
Being a leader in the space of learning solutions, how is Stratbeans supporting organisations to re-imagine their programmes and delivery modes to meet the needs of the new-age learners?
At Stratbeans, we offer flexible solutions to organisations that focus on a particular challenge rather than a particular technology. In that sense, our role is to work as an integrator of existing and emerging technologies so that our customers can attend to challenges of reskilling, hybrid work and performance support.
Due to our vast exposure to all industries, we are required to offer industry-specific responses to program delivery as well as delivery modes.
We are seeing that new-age learners are found across all age groups today. Gone are the days when we could pinpoint millennials by age, now it is a way of life. We come across online, mobile-first and tech-savvy learners in all age groups. And hence, our responsibility lies in digging deeper to uncover specific learning tastes and offer technologies which sit on top of LMS and LXPs, so as to serve content excellence, on-the-move delivery and personalisation.
According to you, what are those key challenges that L&D leaders must address to close the skills gap? What is the role played by learning solutions?
The challenge of the learning gap comes up later in the game. First, leaders must try to overcome these five challenges as they begin to design learning solutions for their organisations:
- Identifying the specific competencies in levels and numbers, which is projected for short and medium terms.
- Taking inventory of the existing level of skills and knowledge within the organisation.
- Identifying the cost and feasibility of skills sourcing, reskilling and the point of trade among them.
- Bringing scalability and automation in personalised skilling of each employee on the basis of their competency gap vs the demand placed by the specific project/process they are a part of.
- And lastly, tracking the competency change in real-time.
I believe that the role played by learning solution providers is to help at least in one area listed above. There are very few providers who can handle all parts of this value chain. But since all of them are connected, at Stratbeans, we are orchestrating all these points as one unified problem.
What are some vital steps that leaders need to consider when designing their L&D strategies today? How do we drive and accelerate future-ready upskilling?
In my opinion, the vital steps in designing any strategy begins with formulating the purpose correctly and then breaking it down into an action plan. In the case of L&D, the purpose has to flow from the business strategy of the organisation, which is ‘to create shareholder and stakeholder value, and stay competitive in the industry.’
Future-ready upskilling will happen with the active participation of learners, who are acquiring the skills as well as supporting their peers. Many organisations, in recent times, have taken sufficient steps in shifting the ownership as they invite active participation of learners in this journey. The role of leaders is shifting to that of facilitators in this reskilling process. Leaders must provide simple tools as well as encouragement, so that people can share their knowledge with sufficient depth and variety. Additionally, the availability of active learning experience platforms is a key to the success of such programs driven by leaders.
Our company, Stratbeans offers many innovative solutions to the industry, both free of cost and paid. We found that peer learning and performance support reduces the barrier in the reskilling/upskilling journey.
Our competency inventory solution from our R&D centre in Bengaluru, which sits on top of any LMS system, has the ability to accurately drive the learning experience and offer precise customised experience for each learner for reskilling.
Finally, what are some major learnings you would want to share with leaders and the community as they design their skilling strategies for a disruptive business landscape?
According to my journey and understanding of the evolving L&D space, these are the learnings leaders must incorporate to empower organisations:
- Create knowledge influencers within the organisation.
- Provide the right tools and encouragement to such influencers, to manage and contribute to peer learning.
- Modernise LMS and LXP stack with 'point solutions' to enhance performance support, connect between SMEs and get answers from existing knowledge base through AI-based deep search, so you are able to convert SOPs into videos and simulations.
- Facilitate internal experts to become vocal thought leaders sharing their knowledge, and offer them the resources and support through policies and appreciation.
- Invest in active skilling systems such as video-based coaching and role-play simulators. These are especially important for employees who come in direct contact with customers (such as the sales and support teams)
Eager to learn more from Sameer Nigam? Join us at People Matters L&D India Conference 2022 on October 12 at Grand Hyatt, Mumbai, where Nigam will be speaking about a pertinent topic, Into The Future: The Big Disruptions in Skilling, sharing his experience as we build the new world of work. Register now.
Image source: HR World