The new learning culture is fun, open and autonomous

More and more companies are understanding that employee learning is fundamental to helping the company grow and adapt to a changing world. Traditional continuous training is taking more innovative routes in the form of upskilling and reskilling.

If there’s something that a company’s competitors will never be able to imitate, it’s the people who are part of their workforce. In fact, one of the key aspects to helping a business keep growing is the professional development of its employees – if they can grow, the company will grow with them.

The arrival of digitisation has marked a before and after in the labour market, as every day new solutions and new jobs are appearing that reinvent the scene. It’s no surprise that 85% of jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t yet been invented, according to the report ‘Realizing 2030: A Divided Vision of the Future‘ drawn up by Dell.

This is a situation that has been accelerated by the pandemic and to which people have had to adjust, according to Imma Catalá, head of Strategy and Solutions Development in BBVA’s Talent and Culture area: “The lockdown caused by the pandemic has forced us to adapt our ways of working immediately and very profoundly“. Also, these changes have shaken up even the most entrenched company structures: “It has shown that ways of working based on presenteeism and hierarchy have become obsolete”.

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Faced with an unstable scenario and a constantly evolving, increasingly competitive market, the corporate learning culture points to human talent as the best resource for driving factors such as productivity and adaptation to a changing reality. This is reflected in an IBM study – every dollar invested in employee training represents a $30 return in productivity.

Constant and agile

In this ever changing environment, having a workforce that is continually learning and acquiring new skills will be key for companies’ survival. Victoria Holtz, CEO of Moveminds, which focuses on teaching new skills, says that: “Learning is crucial for employees. It always has been, but now it really is essential and we should be doing it on a recurring basis or risk falling behind”.

Another necessary quality is the ability to understand ups and downs in the market. “At times like these, you have to have agile thinking and be forward-looking, enabling you to read the signs of what is happening”, explains Holtz, who took part in the InnovaHome Festival organised by BBVA Open Innovation.

Upskilling and reskilling

Although there has always been continuous training and professional development, digitisation and the new landscapes imposed by big data and artificial intelligence have made new ways of learning called upskilling and reskilling popular.

Upskilling consists of acquiring new skills in the same field, for instance the arrival of a new, more efficient technology that must be learned. Reskilling, on the other hand, is about learning different skills that could be useful for the company, for example an accountant who learns programming.

The potential value of improving skills could increase GDP by $6.5 trillion by 2030

These processes are increasingly on the agenda. At the beginning of 2020 the World Economic Forum launched the Reskilling Revolution initiative with the aim of offering a billion people better education, skills and jobs by 2030. In this line of work, they produced the ‘Upskilling for Shared Prosperity‘ report, which estimates that the potential value of improving skills could increase GDP by $6.5 trillion (around €5.4 trillion) by 2030.

Simulating to learn

Motivation is a fundamental part of the learning process – as well as providing a promising future for their careers, training processes must avoid being tedious for people. Strategies such as simulating scenarios offer more attractive options.

At Moveminds they provide simulation-based learning environments using interactive avatars. Based on artificial intelligence, the way they work is very similar to human conversation and they can be used in numerous situations.

When workers share what they know, they increase creativity, stimulate innovation, and improve results

A concrete example can be found in taking on digital roles, such as that of a virtual security officer who can present dangerous situations that the employee has to handle. These types of solutions provide employees with a true-to-life learning experience where they can learn through trial and error.

New teachers

Training sometimes surfaces from within a company. Self-training processes, whereby more experienced professionals in an area share their knowledge with other employees, are becoming a new trend.

This in-house learning fosters team skills such as productivity and creativity, as well as helping to form bonds. The ‘Knowledge sharing: a review and directions for future research‘ study, by the universities of Nevada and Ohio, points to this: “When workers share what they know, they increase creativity, stimulate innovation, and improve results for individuals, teams and organisations”.

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Empowerment, entrepreneurship and responsibility

Corporate training needs to be aligned with a philosophy that promotes employee growth and inclusion, and this should be incorporated into all aspects of the company. One fundamental thing is that leadership “should present three essential traits – empowerment, entrepreneurship and responsibility”, according to Catalá from BBVA’s Talent and Culture area.

From this perspective, learning is understood as a tool to get to know a person’s own capabilities, to excel in these and be driven to contribute to the company in creative and valuable ways. In the Deloitte report ‘Beyond Reskilling’, they state that 54% of companies believe that the workers themselves want to learn, and that only 19% see lack of interest as a barrier.

Workers “can identify gaps and reinvent themselves to close those gaps”

The consultancy argues that this is an opportunity, because employees “can spot disruptive forces before senior managers”. Thanks to this vision and the momentum of a learning and growth environment, workers “can identify gaps and reinvent themselves to close those gaps”.

The world is constantly changing, with new jobs emerging and others disappearing. The best way to keep up with the pace is to stay up to date and to expand your own knowledge. To do this, companies and workers themselves need to have a common goal – to learn so as to remain competitive.

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