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Wistec blog post: Learning path has changed

Learning path has changed – are you following it?

More customer-oriented planning and more time for training. Inspired by the research results, Juha Huhtanen has wondered about the changes that have affected how and when employees learn new skills at their workplace.

The gap between competences and job requirements can rapidly grow

Previously, in most of the fields, system and software upgrade cycles were calculated in years, but now the time frame can only be a few weeks. At the same time, the “best before” date of the skills required for most of the jobs expires faster and faster.

Some of the updates does not affect employees in any way: they will “survive” and will be able to continue their work as usual.

Whereas the rest of the updates, that are often the best and easiest parts of the job, will not be learned if the training is not continuous and suitable for the personnel’s needs. At the same time, when an organization requires more work from a person, the gap between the skills requested by the job and the job itself is likely to increase.

With the coming of artificial intelligence and robotization, more and more jobs are likely to progressively find less space in the labor market. But as technology develops, soft skills are the most important learning areas to fuel employees and employers’ growth.

The most important learning areas are soft skills

Lynda.com, the world’s largest e-learning company, released in 2018 a study on trends in learning at workplaces. They interviewed a total of 4,000 people from around the world through their owner LinkedIn: 1200 staff developers, 400 HR managers, 400 managers, and 2200 employees, so the sample is relatively comprehensive.

Of course, at a first glance we can think that an e-learning trainer like Lynda.com did a self-referential research, but I think the study is at least indicative.

According to the study, the most important learning area at the moment is represented by soft skills, in the following order:

  1. Leadership
  2. Communication
  3. Co-operation
  4. Job-specific skills

The emphasis of the study is on the importance of soft skills and the benefits coming from their development: at least now, these skills are (almost) totally missing in robots.

But the critical point in developing soft skills and putting them into practice is represented by their tools.

For example, managing Microsoft Office 365 tools can significantly help employees achieve their goals. With the sharing features offered by Teams, OneNote and SharePoint, international teams can work effectively so that each team member always has the latest information on what the other members have published or done. The main point here is that someone in the organization has decided on the introduction and implementation of common working policies. However, it is often the case that the employer does not assign this task to a specific decision-maker, and the benefits coming from these excellent tools are easily lost when some people use, for example, Planner or Teams without a common line.

Everyone wants appropriate and well-timed training

The research also identified the most important challenges for staff development. Participants considered how to train, how to bridge the gap between current skills and the target level and how to understand the impact of technology.

There was a general consensus among the participants in the decision-making role that learning and education should be continuous and global. In addition, trainings should be able to check how the skills of each employee have developed and how far the target level still is. In other words, in the future, watching for example videos by itself will not be enough, but the learning process must be executed through exercises and tests.

The research also showed that most employees feels that the training process should take place at work and at their own pace, just as each training itself needs.

Experiences of staff development challenges

It is interesting to compare Lynda.com’s global research with our own experience of personnel development in Wistec´s home country Finland and many other countries.

For instance, almost all the participants stated that employees can test themselves, but at the same time organizations are not keen to run any kind of assessment tests.

Wouldn’t it be in everyone’s interest to find out which skills employees lack in order to provide the right training for the right skills? The main reason why the necessary training is not organized is, as expected, lack of time.

Similarly, as many as 94% of employees said they would like to work for the same organization longer if the employer invested in their careers, such as developing their work tasks through better knowledge. On the other hand, lack of time is again the main reason for employees not to learn anything new at work.

This is a real dilemma for employers and their employees: staff should constantly evolve and learn more, so that the whole organization can work well, and the jobs will be maintained, but nobody has time to do it.

Could this lead to the conclusion that it would be worthwhile for both employers and employees to schedule some time for further learning?

This is what we think: training companies, us at Wistec and others, have the responsibility to provide employer’s personnel with the learning methods they need – the proper level and selection of Blended Learning services – constantly and life-long.

Wistec’s TaaS (Training as a Service) training agreement provides a continuous training service and a business model that considers the different needs of employees, facilitates budgeting and planning, and monitors the results.

Finally, TaaS is also cost effective, because employees can get all the services at one price.

Do you agree with Wistec’s answer?