Mike Owens, Founder and CEO, Absorb Software

Industry View from


A reskilling reality check

How L&D must evolve to successfully close the modern skill gap. 


If the digital evolution has left you dizzy, you’re not alone. New technologies such as the internet of things, artificial intelligence, robotics and 5G are emerging at such a furious clip your planning likely feels obsolete before you have a chance to gain alignment. While these disruptive forces will create 58 million new jobs over the next few years, these positions will require new skills the average worker has yet to master. The answer is to reskill and upskill to meet the workforce needs of the future.


Why companies are struggling


As companies confront the trends transforming the future of work, it’s increasingly clear that learning and development programmes have emerged as a critical component needed to drive business success. But despite recognising the urgent need for training, many organisations are struggling to establish the culture of continuous learning necessary to meet the needs of the modern organisation. 


One key hurdle is that learners have difficulty finding time to train. Deloitte estimates the average employee can only dedicate 24 minutes per week to professional development. And even when learners of all stripes take training courses, they often lack the engagement needed to learn effectively. Adding to the challenge is the evolving ways in which staff are employed by businesses. The cost of hiring skilled talent, and the need for specialised skills, has driven organisations to meet employment needs through contractors and offshore companies. Gig economy workers add to the complexity that has created a far more diverse and distributed labour pool that still requires new knowledge and skills.


Training your enterprise ecosystem


When considering learning audiences, one must factor in the learning needs of non-employees as well. Corporate supply-chain partners, content sellers, association members and especially customers all need a seat at the learning table. If we must make strides to upskill our enterprise, then these external audiences must also come along for the ride if we are to truly elevate business performance. To create lasting change, we must create learning strategies that plan for training an organisation’s entire ecosystem.


A commitment to change: the need for a new approach

As business leaders, we are often on the front line of problem solving. We should ask ourselves what is needed to overcome obstacles that stand in the way of effective corporate learning. We now have before us the opportunity to create innovative learning cultures by investing in the right tools, setting the right priorities and seeing that our leadership teams carry that mantle as they interface with their teams. We’ve already witnessed nearly 200 CEOs at top companies such as Walmart, Google and Amazon pledge to invest more in employee training to develop the new skills essential for a rapidly changing world. But committing to training employees, partners, customers, and taking the right steps to provide it, are two entirely different things.


To thrive in the digital age, businesses must embrace a completely new paradigm for corporate learning. As the business world evolves, so must our approach to training and development. We must pivot away from antiquated thinking about learning, and instead implement programmes designed to promote learner excellence and growth for both today and the years to come. 


Personalisation and relevance: the new training ingredients


What does today’s learning and development landscape look like? For one, it’s fast-paced, yet flexible, highly relevant and personalised. Learning experiences should be connected to the task at hand, in the workflow, seamlessly and transparently. Learning should become an effortless part of one’s day – throughout the day – occurring at the precise moment information is needed, and without delay. This makes training contextual, relevant and tailored to the individual. After all, there’s more than one way to work, so there should be more than one way to learn. Organisation and learner preferences vary as much as businesses do themselves.


How do we get there? By empowering efficient, customised learning that taps the latest technologies, tools and techniques. In doing so, every company can benefit. Blended learning takes on a whole new meaning. You can include individual learning experiences in new and dynamic ways, especially relevant for hands-on verticals such as healthcare and manufacturing, where training may require learners to demonstrate competency. This evolution in corporate education will result in an upskilled workforce ready to take on the evolving challenges it faces. It will likewise prep external enterprise audiences for the work, and world, they encounter.


We are living an information age where knowledge is power. To safeguard our success and prepare for tomorrow, we must put training at the fore and rethink how learning is delivered. Let technology become the secret weapon to your success. It’s hiding in plain sight.

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