3 Strategies for Companies and Universities to Shorten the Skill Gap

Photo by Christopher Burns on Unsplash

Traditional approaches to continuing education won’t be enough to weather the coming skills crisis. A lifelong learning strategy is the only way to fill skill requirements in the future of work. Accenture’s recent report on digital transformation strategies offers valuable lessons for organizations and universities who are proposing a new approach to learning.

The skills gap could become an incredibly costly problem for global employers by 2030. G20 projects 14 countries could collectively lose $11.5 trillion USD in growth opportunities promised by intelligent technologies if they fail to adapt. “We should be talking more about learning than about education,” writes Cristóbal Cobo of the Oxford Internet Institute. “Today we have a very large and increasing number of learning opportunities.”

Traditional media companies are facing a unique storm of financial pressures and a digital transformation imperative. Organizations must successfully pivot and achieve new operational efficiencies to survive. Accenture’s recent report on Three Growth Strategies for media and entertainment firms also offers value for Learning & Development (L&D) pros.

1] Simplify Operations

Accenture recommends adopting simpler, more data-driven operating models to better leverage “data and analytics to improve the transparency of current costs and true spend.” A successful lifelong learning strategy will also use data and analytics to identify opportunities and risks in real-time.

Organizations and universities are aware that skills shortages are growing more severe, and the workforce isn’t prepared. Faster, simpler L&D operations can allow data to take center stage. Simplifying L&D can allow organizations and universities to pilot new approaches as new skill requirements emerge. Simpler operations can also allow organizations to adapt existing systems and content to meet future demand.

2] Zero-Base Spend

Zero-Base Spend is a radical approach to budgeting where expenditures for the year start at zero instead of the normal approach — an upper budgetary cap. This can be a cost-saving alternative to traditional budgeting processes, which create a target budget based on the prior year’s performance or spending patterns. A zero-base attitude can reveal what’s important in a disruptive environment, according to Accenture. It can also allow organizations to let go of unhelpful biases to do things as they’ve always been done. In a zero-base model, universities, and organizations have the opportunity to create all-new operational models.

Learning leaders may not need to zero-base spend, but they should consider the benefits of a zero-base learning strategy. The future of work will likely have much different skill requirements than today. Instead of creating more agile learning programs based on what’s worked on the past, leaders have an opportunity to re-envision ways to achieve a future state.

A zero-base lifelong learning strategy can include entirely new success measures and competency goals, as well as new approaches to drive continuous engagement. The French government is now inspiring “latent learners” to pursue professional development by offering a personal training fund of €500 each year, per G20.

3] Invest in Intelligence

Investing in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and analytics can enable organizations to find and sustain cost savings, per Accenture. Intelligent technologies can be a tool to compete in disruptive market ecosystems by creating new operational efficiencies and fewer demands for manual human effort.

Intelligent technologies are similarly poised to impact lifelong learning programs. Technology is redefining experiential learning and competency-based assessments. For the first time, learners can simulate truly hands-on experiences in virtual reality (VR). Analytics is providing more in-depth, objective ways to measure skills requirements and learner progress. Embracing intelligent technology for lifelong learning can allow organizations to achieve better learner outcomes and more personalized learning pathways.

Digital Transformation for Organizations and Universities

Achieving an effective lifelong learning strategy for the future of work requires organizations and universities to adopt a digital transformation mindset. Proposing solutions to weather the skills crisis requires learning leaders to zero-base traditional learning strategies, simplify operations and start fresh with intelligent technologies. These strategies could be defiant ones if they are approached all alone, thus many organizations decide to look for partners in order to start with unpolluted visions of the way things should evolve. Many looks for experienced OPXs (the entire spectrum of services models supporting Universities and Companies in the design, development, and delivery of online education) to capitalize knowledge and experience on a rocky and unknown road.

Improving lives through learning experiences. Delivering a transformative and effective learning experience, everywhere.

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