Produced by Towards Maturity and supported by the CIPD, this report presents evidence for leaders in learning and development on changing approaches to workplace learning so they can consider the skills they need in future
Date: 06/09/16 | Duration: 00:16:04
Research suggests that 65% of today’s school children will be employed in jobs that have yet to be created. This poses a huge challenge for both HR and L&D professionals. What skills and abilities will you and your workforce will need for the future? How will you manage your talent pipeline for roles that don’t yet exist? How do you prepare your workforce to respond efficiently to changing environments?
In this episode we hear from Andy Lancaster, Head of L&D Content, CIPD and Nicola Josephs, Senior Executive Advisor, CEB on the challenges and opportunities facing L&D professionals now, and in the future. We also chat with Derek Bruce, Head of International Development, ABN AMRO and Alexandra Bode-Tunji, Programme Lead - Skills and Capabilities, TFL about how their organisations are preparing their employees for the future.
How is your organisation preparing its workforce for the future? Join in the discussion on Twitter @CIPD using the hashtag #cipdpodcasts.
View the full podcast transcript
Philippa Lamb: the world of work is changing fast and it’s having an immense impact on learning. Tech, geography, working patterns, age, fundamentally all part of the quiet revolution being brought about by the internet are shifting the design and the delivery of learning.
Andy Lancaster is head of L&D at the CIPD.
Andy Lancaster: There are some key things which are changing: companies are very dispersed so the concept of being in one place no longer exists so we’ve got to think about how we would support people across geographic boundaries. Also we have a far more mobile, transient workforce. And obviously technology now is meaning that we have digital means. And four generations in the workforce gives us all sorts of fantastic opportunities as well. So that change in the workplace and the workforce has a real impact on learning. It’s something that learning professionals need to grasp.
PL: Traditionally the role of the L&D department has been to develop the skills and competencies of workers and help people to do their current jobs better. But the rapid pace of change in technology, the constant organisational churn and a trend of decreasing employee tenure all raise the question of how the L&D role needs to change now in order to prepare workers for their next roles. Nicola Josephs is senior executive adviser at the CEB. They’ve been undertaking research to try and understand the dynamics impacting on L&D within organisations.
Nicola Josephs: First of all how work gets done is changing. So it’s a much more interconnected and interdependent working environment which means that employees need new network performance competencies.
NJ: The second dynamic is that our organisations, leaders and employees are exposed to a rate of change that is accelerating the aging of our learning solutions.
PL: Yeah we hear about this all the time and it’s getting faster and faster.
NJ: Absolutely. The third one is the abundance of data that our employees have available to them which leaves many employees drowning due to the lack of good decision-making skills. So how can we overcome this? I can find the solution myself.
PL: So endless complexity and endless change.
NJ: The fourth dynamic is in L&D there are so many new channels and technologies that we use, not to mention all of the ((moogs?)) many of these raise concerns around quality control.
PL: Yeah and we’re hearing more and more about this aren’t we, this issue there is loads of stuff out there but how valuable, how good is it?
NJ: Absolutely and we’re hearing a lot more from our heads of L&D around the digitalisation, trying to make learning cool and different but just because we’re suddenly gamifying something does that mean that it’s targeting the outcomes we’re trying to drive or we’re just trying to do something cool with technology. And then the fifth dynamic is internally our functions are changing as talent management broadens its focus from leadership to the entire employee population. So we can no longer work as a siloed L&D function, actually everything that we are creating and driving towards in terms of outcome actually has to be embedded in everything we do.
PL: Research suggests that 65% of today’s school children will be employed in jobs that have yet to be created and that poses a huge challenge for both HR and L&D professionals.
AL: So I've always believed that we’re not only developing skills but behaviours and attitudes. That's always been part of the remit of learning and development professionals. So I think a key thing is to build into our learning things like curiosity and I certainly think for young people coming in they live in a far more socialised world so we have to think about how we can really grasp that social, collaborative learning, which many of the folks are doing, younger ones are doing, without even thinking. And that needs to be at the core of our learning practice where we’re developing communities where peer learning can take place alongside the traditional course.
PL: Derek Bruce is head of international development at ABN AMRO which serves retail, private and commercial banking clients across the world. Derek’s role is to make sure all the employees have opportunities to learn, develop and grow at whatever level they are.
Derek Bruce: From my perspective I think there's three key challenges. I think the first challenge is L&D people appreciating that they need to change and adapt to the environment we’re currently in which keeps changing. And by that I mean understanding that we don't know the answers, we don't have all the content, learners can find it themselves. And also technology is really changing how employees expect learning to happen.
I think the second key change is also around what we think employees need content which is on demand, resolves a performance need and also is engaging and fun and makes learning something they really want to do and I compare it to learning outside of the workplace to in the workplace. And when you learn in the workplace it’s not always something you feel you want to do.
And I think the third thing is just also considering a skillset, learning people have now, is thinking what skillsets do future learners and learning professionals need to have. And by that I mean the ability to connect, to moderate, to know where to push somebody towards, as opposed to the skillset of thinking you need to, as I said before, have all the answers.
PL: When you say it like that it sounds simple doesn’t it but that's an enormous amount to know isn’t it?
PL: I mean thinking about the ‘we don't know what jobs people are going to be doing in the next ten or 20 years,’ this idea that, you know the majority of children in education now will do jobs we haven’t yet really thought of, how do you as an L&D professional think about what is my organisation going to need if you don't really know what it’s going to look like.
DB: I think one of the things we’re trying to do, and I think one of the ways we can support this is thinking about data provided now and then try and use that data to project forward what it could look like, and in terms of roles we’ve obviously moved forward in a digital age and there's roles for example, data crunchers, which weren't around five or ten years ago. And I think it’s just thinking we now have the data; we can now use it to try and think how is that going to impact us as an organisation, as teams, as individuals, going forward? And what skills, knowledge, competencies can we support people to do to do that as well? But more importantly also work on our business people and our employees to ask them the questions because they would have as good an appreciation of future needs of their roles as we would, as L&D professionals.
PL: So you need to draw on the expertise that's already in the organisation?
DB: Yeah that's one of the essential things I think we’re beginning to do and we need to carry on doing. One of the things I like about, for example, the army is the way they develop their people is, especially leaders for example, is we’re going to give the individual the skills before we give them the job. And I think one of the things, going back to your question, we need to do is also think, we don't know but we know at some point that's going to be useful. And I don't think train is the right word but I think give access to that information, enable them to educate, enable them to find out and understand what they can do as well, is more the approach which will help employees but also L&D to move forward as well.
PL: This brings us to the idea of what we as L&D practitioners offer. Digital technologies enable learning to be available anytime and anywhere, with many employees choosing to learn in their own time and often from their own sources. Here’s Nicola.
NJ: A lot of the time L&D functions think that if I need to develop business acumen in my employees I want to make sure that I meet all different learners’ preferences for learning, so we’re going to have some reading material, maybe some webinars, maybe some live training, different types of approaches. And suddenly as an employee I might go on to the portal and suddenly there are 20 different ways of doing it: I don't know what is the organisation’s priority, I don't know which is the best one to do and in the end I just don't do anything because it’s too complicated.
PL: So what should it look like then? What should they find when they go to a portal?
NJ: It should be curated down to what is a top priority and where we see we’re getting the biggest impact from the organisation.
PL: Okay so curation and clear signposting so that people can self-guide themselves through what’s there and be confident that it’s relevant to what they’re doing.
NJ: Exactly yes.
PL: Curating content and then allowing employees to pick, choose and review is simply mimicking the way we all share information in our private lives.
DB: One of the things we’ve done is created our own social platform, not to share best practice but to share efficient practice, so to share what people do which works and I think that has helped people to understand what they could do going forward as well. And it’s also meaning that the content for employees is driven by the employees. People post videos on YouTube, they post things on the LinkedIn, they put stuff on Facebook, they use Twitter, why can't we bring that culture and that way of living into the workplace as well?
PL: Alexandra Bode-Tunji is programme lead, skills and capabilities at Transport for London. Her task is to transform stations and the customer experience within London Underground in a major culture change programme.
Alexandra Bode-Tunji: One of our big challenges is we’ve got operational managers as opposed to people managers and one of our biggest challenges at the moment is how do we transform that. I remember when I started three years ago the word that was used was how can we rechip people in order to provide the services that we want for our customers.
PL: Alexandra took a fresh approach inspired by a rather unlikely source.
AB-J: I took the experiences from my five year old nephew at the time when I started the programme and some of the things he was sharing with me around the practice of learning was actually quite fascinating. So in order to get children really excited about politics they split them into political parties and they actually have to have political debates about critical issues in the UK and I'm thinking wow you’re just five years old. And I thought if you could do that then I could do something with these managers who actually have been in role for 25, 30 years and actually with the fun of learning as well and actually bringing that back into the sphere of learning and development and it’s been very successful.
PL: So that raises an interesting point doesn’t it, this thing about what will L&D look like in the future? What should we be planning for? That idea that you do need to be thinking about not just the roles people are doing now...
AB-J: But what they’re going to be doing in the future. Absolutely.
PL: Either for you or for someone else.
PL: So that's very much at the forefront of your mind?
AB-J: Absolutely. And what are the challenges actually that they’re going to encounter in future and starting to anticipate that along with them.
PL: With ticket offices closing TfL needs on platform staff to offer the knowledge on tap for customers about tickets and zones, which traditionally was the domain of the ticket officers, Alexandra’s mission was to take the fun that her nephew found in learning and deliver her learning with the same attitude.
AB-J: By using interactive gamification where you can immerse the learner in practising different scenarios and testing out and even if they get it wrong they’ve got opportunity to actually improve on their learning.
PL: So tell me how it works if I was sitting down doing that?
AB-J: We’ve got two ways you can access that learning, you can either go straight into the ticketing modules and we’ve got 18 different modules, it takes about one and a half hours compared to what used to be two weeks in the class room.
AB-J: So we moved that knowledge online. The scenarios we use around the ticketing scenarios are questions which customers would typically ask when they actually come to you at the passenger-operated machine. But more important we also included scenarios which would look at how people travelled. If I was going to travel from one point in London to another point what I call the synergies between different zones within the network and actually coming up with a way in which they can actually rapidly answer those questions.
AB-J: I love fun when I'm learning. So we created a Monopoly type game but we used the new station operating model, so the four different station types were the four different rounds you can go through.
PL: Okay so some fun stuff.
AB-J: Exactly theatres and fun stuff. So we had that on there.
PL: And how did it all go down? Do people like it? Do they buy into it?
AB-J: So from a business perspective what would have taken someone about two and a half three years to get people to the level of knowledge in the first six months we’ve been able to achieve 48% of actually people achieving what I call the qualification to be able to actually deliver effective ticketing advice. And digital learning has now become actually something of interest to very senior leaders in the organisation because they could see the effect that had.
PL: Okay so that's obviously really a new point to you in terms of forward planning.
AB-J: Exactly and I guess the third part of it was the fact that it enabled us to actually create a real blend. It allowed us to actually really introduce pre-learning and post-learning.
PL: And did that work for you across your whole cohort, regardless of age, what sort of people we’re talking about. You're smiling. In fact you're laughing. Why are you laughing?
AB-J: So back when we started with the first line manager population the IT literacy within that population was very, very low, very quickly my team, we had to set up what I would call a quick response unit to answer the very basic questions that were coming through in order to actually overcome the challenges.
PL: Of just using the tech?
AB-J: Exactly. We had a call come through around, oh there's no sound on my system, and Howard in my team said, “Right check behind have you got the speaker plugged in?” “Oh I didn’t realise there was a speaker needed to be plugged in.” So it was those kind of very basic things…
PL: Really basic stuff.
AB-J: …that we hadn’t anticipated at the outset but it really gave us what I would call great insight to what we needed to do for the future if we wanted people to embrace e-learning.
PL: So we’ve heard about how people are equipping their workforces with skills for a future that's now altogether less predictable but what about the L&D function themselves? With a new L&D landscape are their own skill requirements changing too?
AL: Lots of learning people really love designing their own stuff and sometimes we think we can design the best thing when actually there are other people out there doing fantastic things, so that perhaps there's a bit of professional pride which we have to swallow here.
PL: So thinking about practitioners what does all this mean for practitioners and their own learning and development? What sort of skills are you going to need that maybe you haven’t needed?
DB: Interestingly I think one of the things which if I'm talking about our organisation over the last couple of years we’ve done lots of work around media, and when I say media we’re talking around creating WebExs, creating webinars, creating videos, creating articles which are videoed as well. And when I think about how much I've learnt and my team has learnt in the last two years on how to do this and be involved in compared to the previous ten years it’s been a huge learning curve. So I think one of the key things for L&D professionals is learning how to really take advantage of what’s available to help people learn and giving it a go. And the interesting thing is when I think about how our team has approached it none of us have been on a training course we just started and did it.
PL: Just getting out there and giving it a go. Sage advice. For more advice on how to upskill your L&D function go to cipd.co.uk.
Next month a departure for the podcast series as we head to Singapore to find out how the fast pace of change there is affecting the talent landscape and how organisations are adapting to meet the challenge. Join me then.
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