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Corporate Training

Can Companies Transform Themselves into Universities for Employees?

Writen By

Sonia Gupta

As the word “disruption” becomes increasingly common in the corporate landscape, companies are realizing that they can’t really just keep hiring new employees to address future challenges.

Developing a knowledgeable, cognitively flexible and strategically proficient workforce might be a challenge, but it is the need of the hour to prevent an existential crisis for an organization.

Little wonder then that the term “corporate universities” is becoming the norm, with the launch of massive up-skilling or re-skilling initiatives being undertaken by major companies. In fact, talent developers are playing a much more strategic role now, with increased budgets and stronger executive support. Only 27% of talent developers cite small training budgets as a constraint in 2019, compared to 49% in 2017. Also, 82% of L&D pros report strong support by decision-makers for employee engagement in professional learning, according to the 2019 LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report

But, what is propelling this change? Why are companies so keen to transform into learning organizations?

Why is it Important to Support Continued Learning?

The concept isn’t new. In fact, more than 60 years ago, General Electric created Crotonville, corporate universities that focused on training internal custodians or employees in the primary skills of design and delivery. Since then, many other companies, such as Disney and Motorola, have followed suit, creating their own sophisticated learning ecosystems, aligned to each organization’s business objectives and culture. 

But, the rapid pace of technological advancements and a horde of other factors have brought the need for continued learning at the workplace into the limelight. The speed at which processes and solutions change need to be paralleled by an equally agile training program for a company to remain not just competitive but relevant.

To Build an Agile Workforce

Technological innovations are occurring at breakneck speed, yet companies lack the talent to tackle future challenges. In fact, 79% of the top CEOs worldwide say that the lack of skills threaten their business growth, according to PwC’s 2019 Talent Trends Report. At the same time, the rising cost of acquiring new talent and an inadequate leadership pipeline remain challenges as well. In such situations, businesses are deploying programs where employees can quickly learn new skills on the job, at the speed of digital disruption.

The Education System Hasn’t Kept Pace with Corporate Needs

Many companies are becoming impatient with the skills that professionals entering the workforce come armed with. This is why businesses are increasing looking at creating their own training and onboarding programs that help new hires hit the ground running. McKinsey predicts that 20 to 50 million new tech jobs will be created worldwide by 2030, and yet American universities are producing only 65,000 computer science graduates per year. It doesn’t come as a surprise, therefore, that there has been a huge surge in recent years in partnerships between corporate programs and big academic institutions to tackle this dearth of job-ready skills.

But, that involves high costs too. So, business leaders are concentrating on building their own training modules to ensure a future-proof workforce.

Employees Want to Learn

Learning and Development initiatives are critical when it comes to retaining the millennial and Gen Z workforce. Today, 52% of employees expect better learning opportunities offered by their employers to meet the challenges that organizations throw at them. It is one of the primary criteria for young workers to choose companies they want to work for. They prefer working for companies that provide them professional development opportunities.

The Route to Becoming a Learning Organization

Millennials and Gen Zers will constitute a majority of the global workforce, at over 75% by 2025. This population has very different learning needs than those of its predecessors. For starters, they seek knowledge and information online, on the go, on a mobile device of their choice. In addition, these are the people who value experience over material possessions. 

What they are looking for is a way to continue to learn, without disrupting their work or productivity, through highly personalized learning experiences. Traditional corporate training no longer fulfills their training needs and preferences. The best way then to deliver training in the format of their preference is through a digital learning experience platform.

Now, if this learning experience platform is AI-powered, it can offer organizations to foster a culture of continued learning. For starters, an AI-driven platform can interact effectively with the learner, with machine learning helping the platform curate content based on each learner’s needs, preferences and skill gaps. The level of personalization and engagement this offers is unmatched by any other standard LMS.

The advantages don’t stop here either. Such a platform allows companies to quickly create, modify, update and deploy training modules, ensuring training at the speed of technological evolution. The platform also proves immensely useful when it comes to standardizing and auto-with-a-learning-experimenting the onboarding process, making it significantly smooth and streamlined, in-sync with the organizational goals.

In addition, with customizable analytics at hand, L&D departments are in a very strong position to enhance the effectiveness of their corporate training programs, ensuring the best possible learning outcomes.

Learning Needs to be Embedded as Daily Practice

What if you could create one-minute, bite-sized videos or other micro-learning content that could be part of the employee’s everyday experience? Now, consider linking these to feedback and reward programs to encourage learners. For one this, millennials love immediate recognition for their achievements, according to a study by York College of Pennsylvania’s Center for Professional Excellence. In addition, the microlearning content format allows for quick introduction to concepts, effective summaries, refreshers and more. This is also the content format that the current generation of employees seek out.

AI-powered learning experience platforms have replaced traditional online learning solutions in corporate culture, to provide a high degree of autonomy in content discovery and pace of learning to participants. It also allows decision-makers spot future leaders within the workforce, for an effective succession program.

Transforming companies into universities can be the ultimate low-cost, high-return strategy when technologies like AI come into play. Ultimately, the benefits extend beyond employees to the stakeholders. They gain access to better innovation, resulting from the company’s focus on building the core capabilities of its employees.

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