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According to the World Economic Forum, one billion jobs -  nearly a third of all jobs worldwide -  are expected to be transformed by the next decade. 133 million new jobs will be created to meet the demands and targets of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. 

But none of this is possible without upskilling and reskilling the workforce. Many HR leaders are faced with the challenge of creating and implementing an upskilling strategy that is both effective and fail-safe to bridge the skills gap among employees.

According to the 1H 2021 Randstad Hong Kong Workmonitor survey, 15% of respondents said they received reskilling opportunities during the pandemic.

According to a LinkedIn poll conducted in 2019, more than 40% of APAC employees left jobs because their employers did not offer adequate learning and development (L&D) opportunities.

ubiquitous learning
ubiquitous learning

To prepare for the future of work, it is crucial for business leaders to upskill and re-skill their workforce to improve employee engagement and collaboration, as well as to retain and attract new talent. However, it’s not easy upskilling the entire workforce. Even with rapid technological advancements, it’s not uncommon for employers to make the mistake of planning their L&D strategies based on common myths and outdated information. 

Let's debunk the top 5 myths about upskilling and reskilling, and discuss how businesses may develop a more relevant talent strategy for the digital age.

myth 1: learning must take place in-person to be effective

When in the offline environment, trainers can make sure that attendees are paying attention to the course and not be distracted by their work emails or phones. However, a typical classroom setting may not be appropriate for everyone.

Virtual learning environments create new training opportunities for employers to explore. Since the pandemic started, many organisations have held office-wide webinars and small breakout sessions to engage and upskill their staff. Video conferencing solutions such as Zoom and Google Meets also allow hosts to conduct polls and quizzes during the training, which gives everyone the chance to participate, even the shy ones. 

A handful of employers have also assigned the responsibility of upskilling to their employees. Through virtual lunch-and-learning sessions, employees from different functional areas take turns to explain what they do and how colleagues from other teams can work together with them. 

What we’ve seen during virtual learning is that many employers and L&D professionals were able to create more touchpoints with their employees, enabling them to continue the development process. 

Some companies are experimenting with virtual online software such as TalentLMS and 360Learning to automate training processes and conduct post-training data analysis more quickly. These technologies can also be used by L&D teams to track the staff’s online learning progress and determine whether or not their employees have benefitted from the training.

With digital technology and all the new training methods available, learning does not have to take place in a physical setting. If the environment is right, learning opportunities present themselves everywhere. 

myth 2: learning happens only through formal courses

Many people feel that learning occurs only when they are formally enrolled in a course. This belief is based on how we have learnt in the past when we were in school.

Trying new things at work or exploring digital technologies, on the other hand, has proven to be one of the most effective ways to improve your skills. For example, when Instagram first launched, no one ever properly taught us how to use the app, but we discovered it on our own. 

The 70/20/10 model, which Randstad adopts, holds that individuals obtain 70% of their knowledge from job-related experiences, 20% from interactions with others, and 10% from formal educational events. 

Our recruitment managers are actively involved in our junior consultants’ development process on a daily basis. For example, our managers often share advice and tips on how to negotiate with clients over the phone to get the best offer for our candidates. 

According to Dr. Palena Neale of the Forbes Coaches Council, “Career and leadership transitions are facilitated by stretch assignments where we get to learn, practice and experiment. Creating more of these stretch opportunities and linking them to training experiences is a great way to build on training efforts. Participants can practice what they have learned in a relevant context while the organisation develops talent and promotes collaboration.”

It is hence critical for companies to create a conducive learning environment that allows their employees to experiment, fail and grow. This will not only help to break down silos and minimise groupthink, but it will also encourage employees to take charge of their own development and create a growth mindset, which is at the core of agile businesses.

myth 3: providing employees with multiple options is good.

From effective communication to coding, companies are already offering a variety of online courses to their employees. Yet, employees still say that it isn’t enough. So what exactly is going on? 

skills development plan
skills development plan

We believe people who are willing to learn are simply overwhelmed with the number of courses and modules and often don’t know where to start.

Furthermore, training courses that are curated by external vendors may not be completely aligned with the company’s needs and development specifications. Employees who are already juggling their busy schedules may not regard these “good-to-know” courses as important as their project deadlines. 

Learning programmes should be designed and customised in a way that truly benefits employees across all functions and seniority levels. L&D professionals should provide clear module guides and recommendations. This way, employees can choose programmes that fulfill their learning objectives that are aligned with their career progression and business objectives. 

myth 4: access to courses alone is all employees need

In the absence of guidance from career and L&D professionals, employees are likely to be swamped, which typically leads to inaction or poor decision-making. The outcomes can include a failure to learn the right skills, sub-optimal skills development, and a loss of motivation.

Employees tend to need personal guidance to develop their strategic development roadmap, one that is not only based on their development goals but also aligned with the company’s strategic growth objectives. However, the responsibility can’t lie entirely on the L&D team, especially if an organisation has more than 1,000 employees. 

L&D professionals can train managers to help keep staff on track with their professional development plans. As an expert in their field and someone who has the right connections, managers can also make recommendations on courses and webinars they think would benefit the employee. 

myth 5: companies can only afford to provide upskilling and reskilling to their 'high potentials'

In the past, it may be true that some organisations  spend more resources developing their ‘high potentials' - high-performing employees who are loyal to the company and display the highest potential of becoming leaders. 

However, the screening process to identify high potentials is not without flaws. Some employees could possess all of the traits necessary to succeed in their area, but never had the opportunity to show it. Instead of picking their ‘favourites’, employers should give all their employees equal access to learning opportunities via online learning platforms or with their L&D teams. 

As companies seek new ways to stay agile and adjust to changes in their business models, it is critical to keep the entire workforce updated on their skills to meet those needs. When everyone has the same guided access to training resources, companies get to enjoy a richer human capital where every employee is able to contribute and add higher value to the business.

you don’t have to do this alone

There is no fixed learning path and not everyone learns the same way you do. L&D professionals should learn to implement effective solutions and strike a balance between allowing employees to make their own decisions and being overly autocratic in their workforce's development journey.

When given the right amount of recommendations and guidance, employees are empowered to chart their own learning journey and be more efficient in the way they work to contribute to the business. 

If you’re interested to learn more about how to effectively develop and implement a robust L&D strategy in your organisation, reach out to Randstad RiseSmart for support. If you’re a L&D professional looking for new job opportunities, check out these jobs today. 

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