There is no doubt about the massive digital transformation that has taken place in the world of work. What’s interesting is the dynamic and accelerated pace this transformation continues to take and in the face of this, job roles continue to be defined and redefined and new skill sets are rising in demand. Leaders have to play a critical role at this juncture by investing in the skilling agenda of their organisations. However, it is not enough to simply present skilling programs for the workforce, there is a need to drive the skilling agenda and to take ownership to ensure its success and persistence. It must fulfill its goals to enhance the growth of the employees, to give them opportunities to thrive and to meet business goals.
At Skillsoft Perspectives 2021, in the panel discussion on ‘Who owns the skilling agenda?’ moderated by Edel Rafferty, Senior Customer Success Manager, Skillsoft; L&D veteran leaders Karen Ross, Learning and OD Manager, Datacom; Jess Bollard, National Learning and Development Manager and HR Business Partner, ASG Group; and Janil Samson; Group Director of Learning and Development, Minor Hotels come together to deliberate on the strategies to implement a successful skilling agenda which is technology enabled and learner driven.
Collaboration is one of the key ingredients
When presented with the key question of ‘Who owns the skilling agenda?’, one similar line of thread that all panelists followed was collaboration. But this collaboration in itself takes several different forms:
- Partnership with business leaders and technology exports to zero in on the skills that are needed for long term and short term business success and meets the customer demand. As Janil rightly pointed out, before taking ownership of the skilling agenda, it is important to understand what are the skills the organisation or the industry is looking for and this varies .
- One cannot overlook the 50-50 split between those implementing skilling programs and the employees who are the learners. While L&D leaders do have to set out the learning content for operational and strategic outcomes, the skilling agenda has an employee drive aspect to it as well. Confidence and a sense of ownership among the learners to develop themselves is equally significant.
This partnership happens in phases. From business leaders on the ground who are responsible for their team members, the responsibility is also shifted to the team members as well given how integration of the individual into the learning agenda is a must for driving learner engagement.
Creativity in the arena of tech solutions
When it comes to skilling programs, a significant challenge is time. On the one hand, employees have to balance the demands of their current role with learning programs and on the other, people learn at different paces making it difficult to gain outcomes in an accelerated fashion. The different learning styles of individuals need to be captured in the digital platforms that organisations invest in to implement their L&D programs.
Each of the panelists’ organisations implemented their own unique programs. ASG Group devised a ‘Live Library’ as part of the ‘Beyond the Box Learning’ program which along with formal courses also incorporated TED talks and articles and news reports, regularly developing new content which can grab the attention of different learners. Minor Hotels invested in an Executive Learning Platform to focus on executive development and to enable the delivery of learning within the limitations of time through digital platforms. Datacom being a firm believer in the test and learn process, Karen points out how they’ve engaged 200 leaders in 16 cohorts to enable learning together in bite sized pieces, at their own pace through virtual facilitation.
She further elaborates on how to bring in the participation in the learning and sharing process, people need to be engaged in a more informal way. That in itself can enable motivation to learn as there is a sense of partnership among peer learners as well.
Jess once again emphasises on the need for experimentation, to invest in creative learning solutions and when it comes to the challenges of learner engagement, rather than moving to an alternative solution, one can rethink the delivery process. At the end of the day, delivery of learning programs does have a huge impact on learner engagement and motivation.
What we have in front of us is a skilling program that is informal, technology enabled and learner driven. What we must really zero in on at this juncture is our learners. Both Janil and Karen raise the importance of feedback. Personalised conversations are critical for engagement and to achieve success in the skilling agenda. Amidst all the technology solutions that organisations race to invest in, people, learners have to be placed at the center. Understanding their individual development plans and learning needs and then integrating it to the solutions available is one way to not overwhelm them and to tailor the skilling agenda to cater to the variations among learners. Experimentation and agility is key in driving the skilling agenda which demands equal involvement from learners and leaders as well as consistent interaction between these two parties.