Lifelong digital learning is now essential to stay up to date in a constantly changing work environment

The pandemic has changed the way businesses operate and people work. It has also changed the way they learn the skills and professional development they need to do their jobs and highlighted how quickly the world of work can change.

What seems clear from research produced here earlier this month by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) is that Irish employees are aware of this volatility and recognize that improving skills is key to staying in business. rapidly changing work environment. The pandemic prompted more than a third of those sampled to consider upgrading or retraining, while 45% said they would like the opportunity to retrain to work in a more progressive industry such as tech.

Cost, time and trust were the main reasons that kept people from making a change and the HEA is trying to help by providing places in higher education as part of the Springboard + Initiative and human capital ( HCI). The latter was introduced in 2019 to help graduates retrain to meet the priority needs of businesses in emerging technologies and areas of skills shortage.

“We’ve tried to remove a lot of barriers for people who may feel intimidated by going back to school,” says Vivienne Patterson, head of skills, engagement and statistics at HEA. “All courses are free or subsidized and the majority of them offer blended learning options.”

Healthcare innovation, logistics and online retail are three areas that have made great strides during the pandemic and all are included in the Springboard + and HCI initiatives.

In July, Carrington Crisp, a business education research consultancy, released a report on the future of lifelong learning and executives in collaboration with LinkedIn. It sampled the views of over 2,000 employees and 500 employers in 22 countries, and the message that came out loud and clear is that Covid has fundamentally changed the ‘how’ of course delivery, with almost 80% employers who now see e-learning as their preferred method of employee development.

Digital learning

The mass migration to digital learning over the past 17 months has happened much faster than expected, and for businesses and individuals alike, the transition has been positive, saving them time and money. ‘money. The net result is that both parties want more distance learning, while employees also want more flexibility in how they learn and more personalization of what they learn.

The survey also highlighted that professional development is quickly becoming an ongoing task and that a primary qualification is only the start of a process that will see employees continually supplementing their qualifications throughout their working lives.

This is going to require big changes in the training ecosystems of organizations, with an emphasis on faster, more flexible, online and informal skills acquisition. Employee development will also be more closely linked to organizational goals.

This change raises fundamental questions about the future of business education. Will there still be a place for traditional training and will diplomas such as MBAs remain essential for those who wish to occupy a position of responsibility?

In general terms, the answer is yes and the demand for business-related training is expected to increase rather than decrease. What will change drastically, however, is the way people get their qualifications. Where they get them will also matter more in the years to come, Carrington Crisp co-founder Andrew Crisp told the Irish Times.

“The location of suppliers becomes less important as technology reduces the impact of geography on learning, but it will make the brand even more important, as people will want to learn from quality suppliers who enjoy an international reputation for ensuring the portability of their qualifications, ”he said. “Employers will also look for marks on resumes when hiring and when selecting partners they want to work with to develop their workforce. “

Professional development

Crisp spends a lot of time talking to companies, employees and providers of professional development courses and he also taps into organizations such as the European Foundation for Management Development, the American Council of Graduate Management Admissions and the Global Executive MBA Council to gauge opinion and sentiment on where business education is heading.

Carrington says the change was already underway before Covid as many traditional courses were designed for a business world that no longer existed. In addition to these evolving technologies, digitization and an aging workforce lacking in digital know-how have created a growing demand for short, high-impact courses.

“It’s not only the training provider that may change in the future, but also the qualifications,” says Crisp. “Masters and MBAs remain popular, but they are not the only choice. Badges, diplomas and digital certificates are all options for recognizing shorter and more focused studies.

“When it comes to MBAs, I think the big question is, do they still provide what employers need in terms of content? MBAs have traditionally been very focused on finance whereas today business is entirely digital.

“Technology evolves so quickly that what you learn in a four-year computer science degree in your first year may be outdated by the time you graduate,” Crisp adds. “This is why fast and frequent classes are becoming more relevant and people may no longer study in three or four year blocks. They can study a little and then work a little, then study a little and get a degree in six or eight years. Interestingly, Australia just announced a big study on micro-accreditations on what they might look like and how they would be granted and recognized.

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