Alexander Forbes has called for an integrated approach to workplace learning because traditional approaches to education and training are no longer responsive enough to keep up with the pace of change, particularly with the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Ryan Knipe, managing executive at Alexander Forbes Empower, says businesses are no longer as stable as before, so are careers, which means the need for lifelong learning, continuous upskilling and reskilling is now an economic imperative.

Knipe cites studies in the US by San Francisco-based learning platform Degreed, which revealed that up to 85% of employees do not feel like the training they are getting at work is preparing them for their next position and when customer behaviour changes, new developments reshape industries, or new competitors emerge, business strategies (and therefore people’s skills) need to adapt.

On the other hand, 77% of CEOs according to PwC’s annual survey of CEO say a lack of key skills is a serious threat to their businesses’ growth prospects.

“These disconnects show that traditional approaches to education and training and to quantifying and communicating people’s skills are not responsive enough to keep up with the pace of change,” Knipe says.

He says it is now more imperative than ever before for companies to adopt an integrated approach to learning that will help employers:

  • Discover the skills and expertise a business needs in the future. This will help a company to make more targeted and cost-effective investments in learning, training and career development
  • Build the knowledge base and skills of employees on a daily basis, and capture and share the learning during their daily habits. This will make learning and development more productive and effective
  • Measure, certify and visualise a workforce’s skills sets so that a company will always know if it has the right people to perform tasks that are needed to be done next

“It is for this reason that Alexander Forbes, in partnership with Degreed, has introduced a new online learning service that provides access to educational and skills content for both employers and employees. We are bringing a best in class life-long learning solution to enable how the workforce really learns,” says Knipe

He says research by Degreed’s shows that self-directed learning largely through informal means is now being considered more effective in one’s professional success, with nearly 78% people relying on self-directed learning than that provided through an employer.

”We learn for two, four and may be eight years in higher education, primarily through formal education like classes and online courses. Then we go into the workforce and develop for another 40 or more years, mainly through informal and self-directed methods, like reading and experience. Most of that doesn’t get tracked or quantifies quantified anywhere,” he says.

However, this makes it harder for businesses to make informed, objective decisions about who to hire, develop and manage.

“We believe there should be a better, more up-to-date way to build measure and communicate skills,” says Knipe. “Nobody becomes and expect expert from one source; we build our skills over time, stitching together a variety of experiences. It takes courses and books here and there, together with articles, videos and podcasts and many other sources.

“Connecting with people in the know, sharing insights and thoughts and coaching along the way also contributes to life-long learning we are advocating for,.”