Bridging the Learning Gap to the Future

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We’ve seen first-hand how businesses can change overnight. Indeed, this era could just as well be called the Evolving Era, as we grapple with new technologies, different generations of workforces, changing societal expectations, economic volatility and, of course, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Amidst all of this, one clear priority for businesses and workers persists: to stay at the forefront of change and ready for the future. It’s a future that depends on everyone’s ability to learn new skills and redeploy quickly.

Priority areas for the futureChange management is where leaders of learning and people need to focus their efforts in the months and years ahead. The biggest insurance policy you can buy against the unexpected is an agile learning and development program that supports your business and your people.

Increase value

Learning increases the value of your employees and your business today and tomorrow. Our research found that companies with a positive learning culture have more agile teams, are more adaptable, and grow faster. And to get the best results, we need to find ways to embed learning in spaces that allow for continuous learning. “In the workflow” is a phrase often heard in learning circles, but it rings true. The best learning happens when people can access it while doing their daily work, whether through a messaging app like Slack or Teams, on social apps they often use like YouTube, or even through VR headsets at work.

It is now

Another aspect of preparing for the future is communicating the urgency of learning today and providing learning that can keep pace with change. Why? Because many of the changes I mentioned are accelerating. Rapid and scalable learning is quite a feat to achieve. There are several good starting points to consider:

  • Make learning relevant to each individual. This means examining their goals and how learning can support those goals, recognizing their prior learning and current interests, and understanding their current role and business skill needs. Consideration should also be given to life experiences, needs outside of work and their generation.
  • Provide a diverse range of learning opportunities. Informal and formal learning can complement each other through in-depth skill building through capacity academies and daily skill enhancement through videos, podcasts, blogs, and more.
  • Reinforce experiential learning. Theoretical learning can be memorized more effectively when reinforced with experiential learning like observation, volunteering, or stretch assignments. It also develops skill from several different angles, deepening understanding.
  • Track all forms of learning. What gets measured gets managed. Understanding what learning is popular, what skills are being developed, and where gaps exist can help you craft a learning strategy that meets the needs of your people and your business.

Looking at this list, it’s understandable that you feel overwhelmed. However, companies (and learning teams) aren’t supposed to do this alone. Bringing in specialists from the learning ecosystem can lighten the load. For broader societal and industry change, employers need to partner with different entities such as other companies, universities and government agencies.

Masters of the future

Change is inevitable, but we can own it. Businesses and individuals can emerge stronger from change if they see it as a stepping stone to something bigger and better, and if they learn the skills to take it to the next level. As we go through a period of immense change, staying on top of our skills is the only way to prepare for each pivot. Plus, knowing you have the skills to take on tomorrow will help ensure you can sail no matter what winds blow your way.

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