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Transforming the talent market with digital learning

  • 5 Min Read

The dynamic work landscape has created many talent challenges for business leaders to tackle. Could digital learning be the missing formula to win the war on talent?

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Many business leaders face problems in attracting, managing, and retaining workforces in a VUCA world. Incorporating Learning and development schemes has been highlighted as a potential solution to solve problems in talent. To find out more about how the talent market is changing, and how L&D can aid this cause, HRD Connect spoke to Anthony Tattersall, Senior Director of Enterprise EMEA, Coursera.


How is the talent market changing?

The talent market is advancing at an increased pace. Organisations are going through forms of digital changes or upskilling initiatives in response to alterations in the business landscape.

The pace of change for organizations has increased significantly. In almost every sector, new digital disruptors are trying to take market share away from more established providers. Consequently, organisations are having to reinvent themselves.

We’re also seeing changes in the longevity of some skills. After two years, employees need to start thinking about developing or acquiring new skills.

Acquiring and developing new skills wasn’t a priority 10 years ago. However, skills like data science are one of the most challenging roles to hire for, and most organisations want to hire people with data science skills in the current climate.

Most companies have prepared themselves to compete in the future. They do so by ensuring they have the right kind of skills amongst their workforces. To do that, they need to either hire people or reskill their existing employees – which is a big focus around talent today.

A few years ago, learning and development wasn’t a boardroom issue. In many organizations now, the skill gap is in the top three business issues. When businesses hire a Chief Learning Officer, it’s a very strong indicator of how focused a company is on skills development and learning.

What are the differences between upskilling staff and onboarding new talent?

The cost of hiring someone is significantly higher than upskilling existing talent. Another challenge in hiring is attracting the right talent. One organization planned to hire 400 data scientists – after 12 months, they only managed to hire eight. If you’re not Facebook or Google, from a brand perspective, it’s quite hard to be the most attractive player in the market.

Businesses are much more likely to invest in reskilling people than acquiring new employees. If people don’t reinvent themselves, then they may end up in a world where they can’t progress in their careers.

Have many individuals opted to reinvent themselves through learning?

On our platform, we see many individuals looking to develop their skills. Within those learning programs, the most popular ones are based on data science, computer science and business.

The average age of a UK learner using Coursera is 34. But we see people coming out of universities, people later in the prime of their careers, people in their midlives. The old paradigm of going to university and staying in the same job until you retire is disappearing.

80% of our learners are outside the US. There are a lot of people who come from backgrounds where they can’t get work in their own country, or they struggle to access quality education. They use Coursera to get that knowledge.

People that invest time in learning create more opportunities for themselves in the world of work, whatever that opportunity looks like for them.

How can businesses solve talent management challenges?

One of the biggest reasons for people leaving their jobs is because of a lack of development or career opportunities.

If people develop a new skill set, they open career opportunities. Many companies aim to improve employee retention by investing in learning & development strategies.

Talent acquisition is also a focus for businesses today. Organisations that publicly showcase that they invest heavily in learning and development will be more likely to attract talent. There will also be a greater volume of candidates for less spend. Companies can reduce acquisition costs because they can grow skills through reskilling programs.

Businesses can improve things like innovation, collaboration, competitive positioning and market proposition, by investing in learning and development policies.

There is also much stronger recognition from organisations investing in learning developments.

Investing in technology and people are the two biggest drivers of success for businesses these days. Historically, it used to be much more about physical assets, material objects and invention. Now, it’s about IP, people and technology.

What will be the most in-demand skills needed for the future workforce?

There are technical skills, leadership skills, and soft skills. Most businesses are investing heavily in technical skillsets, and data is becoming so much more critical for all organisations in how to use data effectively and gain insight into their customers.

Business and leadership skills are also important. It’s about leading teams, creating diverse workforces, or running digital transformation projects.

Many companies find out that the basic skill sets aren’t in-demand anymore. When people go into customer service roles, their ability to naturally empathize with a customer and handle complaints aren’t as strong as it would have been 10 years ago.  because the world and the way people interact are changing.

The world and the way people interact are changing. Therefore, learning and development are key if organisations plan to successfully attract and retain talent in the future.

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