Why your digital workforce needs on-the-job learning

How can learning and development professionals keep pace with workers who need to be up to speed with new technologies and approaches? PluralSight’s Julian Wragg argues that we need a more agile model for on-the-job learning.

With those born at the start of the century turning 18 next year, we are witnessing a significant shift in the knowledge and skill set of technical employees.

As millennials and soon generation Z flood the workforce, businesses have been forced to adapt to digital natives – those who understand and adapt to new technologies with considerable ease.

The new generation are technically gifted and always looking to improve their abilities. According to Deloitte, learning and development is now the number one reason millennials choose an employer.

As a result, people leaders are facing one of the biggest learning and development challenges to date.

They must navigate the needs of a workforce insistent on continuing professional development, while at the same time working closely with CIOs to ensure technical training strategies remain current and ahead of the curve.

HR leaders are finding that they are not necessarily battling new technology developments, but the clock. By the time L&D procedures have been implemented in the classroom, they are often already outdated.

A new model for learning?

This age of continuous learning is forcing business models to adapt. Employees can now take on new information in bite-sized chunks, as opposed to traditional classroom learning, which often leads to rapid forgetfulness among trainees.

With micro-learning, employees can quickly learn something new, put it into practice, get immediate feedback, and then get back to learning more. It is a cycle that keeps forward-thinking companies at the edge, and greatly improves retention of knowledge.

HR leaders and CIOs must collaborate to manoeuvre the challenge of keeping staff clued up on the latest methods. Take working practices such as Agile and DevOps, for example. Both methods of software engineering demand an ability to quickly grasp new concepts, experiment and learn from the best.

That’s why an on-demand technology learning solution is the right model at the right time for today’s software-driven world. Upskilling continuously should be at the heart of operations for these three major reasons:

  • Technology is always one step ahead. New coding languages and practices appear as if from nowhere, quickly establishing themselves as must-haves, such as Node.js and AngularJS. Only on-demand, digital learning resources that can be delivered at scale can hope to keep pace.
  • It establishes a meritocracy within an organisation. With the right tools, companies can now empower and entrust their employees to better themselves. By using a technology learning platform, both the employer and employee can track progress in a measurable way based on the quality of their work and performance.
  • It protects the business from competition. Gaining a competitive edge is key to corporate success. Real-time learning allows companies to stay ahead of the curve. Prototyping and testing software has never been so cost-effective thanks to the cloud, but talent must have the skills to make the most of the opportunity.

Training in the workplace – especially workplaces increasingly defined by technology and digital innovation – needs to change. Only by making each employee an expert, always learning, always looking for what’s next, will companies have the best chance of remaining competitive and safeguarding future success.

Finally, technology may be a fantastic tool, but HR must work with CIOs or IT directors to place the focus on employees. By investing in online digital skills, companies empower employees and make them feel more invested in their work.

Technical work such as coding and product development can at times feel solitary. By showing that the training strategy nurtures employee needs and aspirations, firms can build a real community around their staff.

With this evolution, businesses will be significantly better placed to take on the challenges and opportunities posed by the digital transformation and disruption that is happening today.

Julian Wragg

About Julian Wragg

Julian Wragg is VP for EMEA and APAC at PluralSight
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