Embracing the Revolution of Learning in the Workplace

Learn how your organization can partner with workforce development experts to revolutionize learning in the workplace.

Embracing the Revolution of Learning in the WorkplaceAs the global workforce has changed over the past few years, so has the need for skilled employees across countless industries. In many of the sectors within the greater IT field, upskilling is crucial for professionals to grow as their industry grows. However, many businesses often leave learning development and upskilling in the workplace to the employees and instead focus on other operational priorities.

The issue with placing the responsibility of upskilling and development on employees is that it can often create greater skills gap. This is  why it’s crucial for organizations to embrace the revolution of learning in the workplace. Although it requires spending money, investing in upskilling employees will help close skill gaps and boost employee retention.

Challenges to Implementing Learning in the Workplace

One of the major challenges to addressing employment gaps and improving workforce development is forecasting technology advancements. Identifying gaps between current and future skill sets can be difficult.

Because today’s threat landscape is constantly evolving, it often becomes a challenge for employees in the IT and security sectors to keep up with the skills they need to defend organizations against attacks.

“We've got roles now that didn't exist 10 to 15 years ago,” said Ruth Jennings, skills development programme manager, Sainsbury’s during a session at the CompTIA EMEA Member and Partner Conference. “We moved away from role profiles to a skills taxonomy area, considering what we will need over the medium and long term. We need to find skills to solve those business problems.”

For many organizations, it's challenging to address the direct needs of their teams and determine how to place skilled employees in the right roles. Many times it requires defining goals that will help build strategic plans. Jennings suggests asking specific workforce-related questions, such as:

  • What problem are we trying to solve?
  • What couldn't we recruit for?
  • What did we need to develop internally or hire for?
  • What skills could we give to our colleagues to help with attrition?

Understanding the business needs as well as the pool of current employees that can fill those needs can be one of the biggest challenges organizations face when it comes to workforce development. Once leadership has a good understanding of the skills needed, it’s easier to justify investing in their current workforce in addition to external hiring options.

Developing Employees From Generalists to Specialists

Subject matter experts (SMEs) know their departments and the needs of it better than others with more generalist skill sets. Developing employees from generalists to specialists gives organizations the opportunity to gather key decision makers and SMEs and ask them where skill gaps exist.

“It's important to ask leadership what outcomes they are looking for because then we can develop a solution and leverage different elements,” Jennings said. “It could be a short-term intervention in our knowledge. It could also simply be a checklist or something more substantial to address skills gaps.”

Being intentional with this type of training and development makes a greater impact.

“We ran a generic graduate program, and it wasn’t delivering what we needed,” said Ruth South, global talent development and apprenticeships lead, Costa Coffee. “So we turned that off and turned on specific programs for grads in certain skill areas, apprenticeships and niches. In reviewing all of those moving parts, it helped us focus on the right skills for the individual and the division and then we could scale it.”

Addressing the employee development gap within your organization means getting real with training and development and scaling it up upon success. This will build a better foundation of skilled employees for your workforce. Individual needs will depend on the department's goals and its operational needs within the overall organization.

Improving Connections With Employers to Close Skill Gaps

Employers are looking to close skills gaps don’t have to do it alone. Partnering with workforce development experts can help you address barriers, offer more learning opportunities and cultivate a culture of knowledge sharing.

“I don't believe big organizations will only work with big organizations,” South said. “We work with very large apprenticeship providers, but I think the beauty is where you can find a relationship where there can be agility, respect and something a bit niche for employers.”

Here are three ways a workforce development partner can assist your organization:

1. Address the barriers in the talent placement and recruiting process
In order to effectively close skills gaps, it’s important for organizations to address the barriers that currently exist. These barriers can be both internal and external. It may be as simple as reviewing application processes for internal candidates looking to move within the company and external candidates looking to join the team. Leadership should be clear about the specific needs the organization has when it comes to hiring for job roles within the company. However, it can be beneficial for recruiting to communicate and understand the specific skill sets based on department or team need.

2. Offer employees opportunities for upskilling and continuous learning
Internal employees that are able to upskill within the workplace can often be more cost effective than training a new employee. Organizations of all sizes can utilize partnerships with training and development organizations to help employees upskill and provide continuous learning opportunities. Offering employees incentives such as discounts or monetary reimbursements can make it worthwhile for employees to embrace upskilling.

3. Foster collaboration and knowledge sharing
Typically, the security industry is known to be a more intermediate to advanced industry versus a more entry-level sector of technology. Embracing learning in the workplace for professionals who have shown an interest in other areas of the organization can be a good opportunity to foster collaboration within teams. This can include knowledge sharing across teams to foster cross-sector communication. Knowledge sharing and collaboration can also support employees as they move from a generalist role to a specialist role.

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