In the UK it’s Learning at Work Week (18th – 24th May). This important annual awareness campaign puts a welcome spotlight on the importance and benefits of learning and development.
It perhaps goes without saying, that working at an organisation like Skillsoft I’m passionate about an inclusive approach to L&D and supporting opportunities for all employees to learn.
The ever-changing market forces, economy, workforce demographics, technological advances and so on mean that no business, large or small can ever really afford to stand still from an L&D perspective.
Here are six of the reasons I think that initiatives such as Learning at Work Week serve as a welcome forum to debate modern L&D issues:
- Inclusion. It promotes an inclusive approach and supports the extension of opportunities to learn to all employees, especially those who may not currently participate for reasons that may range from personal barriers to historic organisational structures that focus development on particular staff
- Skills Deficit. In the wake of the recent economic crisis, this remains a growing problem within the UK business landscape. Expansion may be continuing but there is a lack of incumbent employees skilled enough for the roles emerging. And organisations are forced to resort to expensive, external recruitment instead.
- Employee Wellbeing. The UK is ranked one of the lowest on the Wellbeing Index suggesting that businesses aren’t connecting their L&D programmes with the development of employees’ careers. Which is a shame, because this is critical to employee engagement, which in turn leads to happier employees.
- Talent Retention. Understanding how to keep your workforce engaged will help ensure the future success of the business. Keeping your staff feeling valued and nurturing their talents will ultimately create a workforce capable of adapting to the challenges faced by any future shifts to the business landscape.
- The Global Economy. Just to expand upon the ‘inclusion’ theme, we’re seeing a significant demand in the L&D space to bridge cultural, legislative, regulatory divides when it comes to doing business internationally. From delivering accessible, flexible training in multiple languages, to maintaining an auditable compliance trail – people are key.
- Advancing Technology. Of course the world of technology never stands still. This creates a constant need for L&D to ensure that employees with technical roles can stay sharp, and that businesses are keeping pace with customer demands and reaping any consequential efficiency and cost benefits. The use of technology is also becoming an increasingly important part of talent acquisition and retention, as organisations compete to attract and retain young, Generation Y employees.
Of course, the potential impact of effective learning at work goes way beyond this short summary. But one thing is for sure: the nexus of forces driving the modern skills requirement won’t ever rest.
Kevin Young is General Manager, EMEA at Skillsoft.