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Learning under lockdown (Part 1)

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<>Learning under lockdown (Part 1)

Authors: Dr Naeema Pasha, Director of Careers & Professional Development and Founder of World of Work, Henley Business School and Ines Rheinberger, Manager, EY.

Henley Business School and EY have come together to host a programme of work to examine how increasing skills in the UK economy can drive growth, for the economy, organisations, and individuals.

Following our latest podcast, Dr Naeema Pasha of Henley Business School and Ines Rheinberger of EY, explore why it is the right time for organisations to build future-facing capabilities and what critical skills to develop.

As the dust slowly settles on new ways of living, as the long-term socio-economic realities of our ‘new normal’ are brought to light, many of us are switching our focus to the future. When we come out the other end, the world of work will have been shaken; some industries will have tumbled others will reinvent themselves. Yet, the future of work will continue to advance, and the skills gaps will continue to widen. To adjust to new workplace practices, build resilience and navigate the crisis, capability development is an imperative for organisations and individuals alike.

How can organisations act now to address the capability gap of their workforce and learn new skills for the future before they return to the office?

At a tactical level, organisations need to adapt to provide virtual and flexible learning experiences. Developing sustainable capability, however, falls at the crossroads between organisational and individual responsibilities. To engage employees when lives are already disrupted, we must consider learning both in terms of its inherent human relationship and in the context of a wider talent proposition.

There are three immediate questions to ask:

  • What critical skills do I need my workforce to develop?
  • How can I provide access to the relevant learning to develop those critical skills?
  • How can I engage my workforce to maximise the benefit from the learning opportunities provided?

What critical skills do I need my workforce to develop?

Organisations face evolving tactical resource and capability needs to maintain productivity in a disrupted, uncertain and rapidly shifting environment. At the same time, the accelerated time frame of change provides a window of opportunity to reclaim time on a widening skills gap and to learn to learn again.

Progressive organisations already focus on improving digital literacy to prepare for the future. Similarly, we see data-analytics as highlighted as a key future-facing skill for most organisations - from understanding data and critical analysis for problem solving, to using increasingly data-led approaches to decision-making.

However, targeting finite technical capabilities is not enough to meet the accelerating pace of change. Instead the focus lies on instilling life-long learning (WEForum) whilst adapting to an increasingly digitised world. This is a mentality shift where learning increasingly acquires an evolutionary quality required to remain relevant in the future.

Active learning and developing personal learning strategies then become fundamental skills for individuals. Similarly, leaders are required to navigate through a complex hyperconnected world where the critical adaptive skills of emotional intelligence, resilience, problem solving, innovative thinking and communication become priorities.

In Practice:

  1. Assess who already has the most critical skills (and these need to be ‘no regrets skills’ to be developed)
  2. Support and champion those who do have the skills
  3. Create learner journeys with clear outcomes for those who don’t have the skills and need to develop them
  4. Assess current learning content to identify gaps in existing learning provision

To better prepare for the future, organisations have an economic imperative to harness their learning potential and foster capability development. Doing so when lives are already disrupted, requires a holistic approach to learning, one centred around the adaptive needs of organisations and their people.

To better prepare for the future, organisations have an economic imperative to harness their learning potential and foster capability development. Doing so when lives are already disrupted, requires a holistic approach to learning, one centred around the adaptive needs of organisations and their people.

Coming up next week

In Part One, we have explored why now is the right time to build future-facing capabilities and what critical skills to develop. In Part Two, we will explore how organisations can provide access to, and engage their people in, a relevant learning experience to develop critical skills and build resilience for the future.

Published 17th June 2020
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