Graham Hunter talks about the benefits of continuous learning in the workplace.
Reading time: 5 minutes.
Today’s digital workplace is keeping employers and employees on their toes. New technologies that can improve productivity and replace repetitive or menial tasks are being brought into every sector, disrupting day-to-day processes.
However, organisations are still yet to catch up with the rate of change and ensure employees are capable of working with these technologies that are being introduced.
While it isn’t a new concept that training – especially IT training – is necessary to developing workplace skills, it is staggering that there is still such a wide skills gap. The recent report Assessing the IT Skills Gap in the UK, found that 50% of large companies and 44% of small businesses identified a digital skills gap.
In addition to this, the Centre for Economics and Business Research also reported that 12% of the UK population lack the digital skills needed in this decade of rapid technological adoption. With statistics like this, it is clear that there is huge value in workforce training.
Continual training and career growth opportunities are good ways of showing employees that their company is invested in them and ensuring they are continuously motivated to do the job.
However, it is not just initial training that is important when taking a new job. At the current rate of change, newly-learned digital skills could be out of date within a matter of a few years. In addition to this, as cross-over between job roles and functions increases, additional skills gap challenges will arise.
For example, a HR manager dealing with CVs on a day-to-day basis will need to deal with the new GDPR issues around data protection – something that traditionally came under the jurisdiction of the IT department. Therefore, continuous learning processes are a must to help employees keep pace with the rate of technological adoption.
Encouraging a culture of sustained learning has numerous benefits, not just for employees but for employers too.
Ongoing training is one of the most effective ways of increasing productivity. The report found that the leading impact of the skills gap was identified as lower productivity (41%) as employees find it difficult to work with new technologies.
Introducing training programmes that ensure employees are kept up to date with new and emerging technologies and how they can be implemented within the workplace ensures that employees are confident in using tools. This in turn ensures productivity levels are maintained as employees do not spend time finding workarounds and elongating processes.
Showcasing talent investment
If they are to be invested in their work and their company, employees need to feel like it’s a two-way relationship. Continual training and career growth opportunities are good ways of showing employees that their company is invested in them and ensuring they are continuously motivated to do the job.
These opportunities are mutually beneficial since training of employees helps to grow the company while giving employees the knowledge and skills to develop their own career further.
The report also found that having employees with a lack of digital skills reduces the innovation levels within a company.
Having ongoing training sessions that explore the capabilities of technologies, both from an IT perspective and as a wider organisation, ensures that employees are creatively motivated to develop processes and introduce ways of using technologies in day-to-day.
While it may not have a huge impact on a business’ bottom line, having a better understanding of emerging technologies and the ways they can be implemented into the workplace does improve innovation.
The value of certifications
The lack of digital skills within the workplace is not something that can be transformed overnight. Organisations need to invest in the right training and understand the overall return on investment that comes with quality continual education.
Businesses should look to engage with training that is benchmarked against industry standards to ensure employees are receiving education that is as relevant to today’s technological advancements as possible.
Vendor-neutral certifications encompass a variety of factors to assure that each and every employee gains the skills needed to be put into use within the business. If employees are trained to standards that are widely accepted by the industry, employers can be sure that their teams have the skills needed to make an immediate impact when new technologies are introduced.
Having a strategy in place that ensures employees are updating their certifications regularly will mean that organisations are not left behind by the rate of change.
At a time when businesses need to be adapting to digital transformation across all job roles, it is vital that the skills learnt by employees are relevant to today’s technological innovations. Only by investing in industry-relevant, in-demand digital skills, will businesses future-proof the workforce and ensure productivity and innovation are at optimal levels.
About the author
Graham Hunter is VP Skills Certifications at CompTIA.