May 13

Image: Scott Graham via Unsplash

There is only one way to move at the speed of change – and that’s education. As the pace of technological development and evolution of workplace culture continues to increase, both corporates and employees face the challenge of being able to learn quickly enough. 

Education in the next decade will need to be nimbler and quicker than ever before. A university degree is no longer the finish line, but perhaps even the starting line for a lifetime of learning.

The 21st century digital revolution has churned out new jobs faster than any other development in history. The explosive need for new skills has been dubbed a “global reskilling revolution,” and corporations are rushing to manage the transition to a new digital reality.

In 2017, Dell Technologies projected that 85% of the jobs Generation Z and Alpha will enter into in 2030 have not yet been invented – and that was before the coronavirus pandemic upended our workplace culture along with our notions of which skills and jobs will see the highest demand.

“Intentional learning” throughout one’s career is the most fundamental skill needed today, McKinsey concluded in a recent report. That means treating everyday experiences and interactions as a learning opportunity, rather than relying solely on formal education.

Research by Boston Consulting Groups suggests that companies will need to upskill or reskill approximately 60% of their workforce over the next two to five years. This is no small task, as employees are the core value of any company seeking to remain competitive. And training takes time and resources: a report from IBM revealed that companies estimate that it takes 36 days on average to re-skill or up-skill employees – up from just 3 days a mere five years ago.

The resulting corporate education strategies have differed in accordance with the different goals that companies have set for themselves.

Companies like Infosys or IBM are creating cutting-edge in-house universities. For instance, Northeastern University and IBM established a strategic learning collaboration to integrate the company’s in-house education programs with the university’s academic credentials. And Infosys is building a 100-acre campus in Indianapolis designed to provide their employees and customers with “just-in-time learning.’’

Similar trends are taking place across emerging markets.

In Russia, many companies made a huge breakthrough during the past few years, having proven that they are capable of renewing their capacities and improving their services.

Sberbank, the largest bank in Russia, opened a Palo Alto-style campus on the outskirts of Moscow for its new Corporate University. The learning programme was designed by INSEAD and features Sberbank’s own courses, along with virtual reality (VR) sessions that bring corporate training to its massive workforce.

The country’s heavy industry leaders are also adapting tech to enhance their employees’ skillbase. Sibur, Russia’s largest petrochemical company, employs more than 23,000 people and sees educating its employees with advanced skills and qualifications as key to its leadership role amid new trends and technologies, according to Mikhail Karisalov, chairman of the management team at Sibur.

“Today, the success of modern high-tech and science-intensive production directly depends on the professionalism of employees,” Karisalov said. “Companies around the world are investing billions of dollars in their main asset – people, which allows them to improve and master new production and safety technologies, and Sibur is no exception.”

Sibur has created SIBURENTECH, a centre for development and expertise near its  largest production cluster in Tobolsk. Employees and future professionals acquire new specialties and improve their qualifications in a training site adjacent to the nation’s most advanced facilities.

SIBURENTECH also plans to create an onsite UNESCO regional representation office for cooperation with its International Center of Competence. The site’s expertise and educational practices can contribute to the global development and best practices in employee training, Karisalov said.

In the United States, 72.78% of adult respondents already consider themselves to be lifelong learners, according to a survey by Arizton conducted in early 2020. And 63.20% of the US workforce (or approximately 36.40% of the total adult population) receive additional education or training every year to improve skills that contribute to their career growth.

Overall, the global corporate training market is poised to grow by $52.7 billion during 2020-2024, progressing at a CAGR of 10%, according to a report by Research and Markets. The data highlights the fact that the market is driven by the rising incorporation of bite-sized learning and growing reach of digital technologies.

Education will become even more important over the next decade as the pandemic eliminates various industry jobs. While tech may be weathering the pandemic, many other sectors which rely heavily on tech support aren’t doing so well. In May, the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimated that 94% of the global workforce resides in countries with active workplace closure measures where businesses are facing major losses.

The pandemic has only accelerated the evolutionary cycle in business. That means that in the nearest future, millions of individuals who are unemployed or are at risk of becoming so might find their skills are no longer in demand as the economic recovery picks up. For companies interested in attracting and maintaining talent, this presents a huge challenge.

By Stephen Bierman

Stephen Bierman is an energy markets journalist and the editor of New Economy Observer.

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