Report

Skills Development in Ireland – Professionals rate their processes as unsophisticated and ineffective

Understanding and meeting the future skills needs of Irish industry will be central to economic and social stability and progress over the coming decades.

– Digitisation, AI and Robotics are already having a significant impact on work in many sectors and this trend is expected to increase in pace and intensity in the near term. While predictions vary there seems little doubt that most, if not all, jobs will be affected to some degree, with low skill manual work particularly vulnerable to permanent replacement. While online platforms underpin interesting developments often described as the gig economy, this does not emerge as a core response to the future of work in our study.

– The future of work is happening now, and we find cause for concern that the terminology, combined with ongoing pressure to deliver current skills, may be leading many learning and development (L&D) practitioners to delay engaging fully with these critical and current developments.

– Organisations in this study that report positive engagement with the future of work share a common characteristic that can be described as a ‘north star’, which is a clear understanding of what they want the outcome of their future of work engagement to be. For instance, one insurance organisation’s future of work response is framed in terms of their commitment to sustainability, and this underpins their commitment to sustaining employment by reskilling the current workforce as changes unfold. This in turn generates positive commitment to the change agenda from their workforce.

– We discern a trend towards individualised learning pathways, enabled by increasingly sophisticated learning management systems. The demand for individualisation is driven by an increasing range of employee entry points for many organisations, as employers turn to external hiring for experience and skills in areas such as digital and data analytics not previously available in their organisations.

– The need to adapt and develop new skills at all career stages is driving a shift towards lifelong learning, and a greater focus on learning in the flow of work. We report examples of experiential learning programmes that involve talented employees spending substantial blocks of time away from their core roles, in locations that may span both national borders and the boundaries of the organisation. This creates tensions between the short-term costs to units and businesses, when individuals have reduced capacity in their core roles, and the longer-term benefits of such programmes. Adapting to these changes poses challenges not only for employers but also for institutions in the learning and education sectors, as developments such as micro credentials threaten to disrupt traditional accreditation models.

– The skills required by L&D professionals are changing, with clear growth in importance of relatively new skills areas such as digital, data analytics and online content development and curation, as well as business and sectoral expertise. With traditional L&D skills also still in demand, leaders in L&D face importance strategic choices about structure and specialisation within their teams reflecting what L&D skills they feel are core/non-core.

– In terms of measurement of the return on investment of L&D, in aggregate professionals in this study rate their processes as unsophisticated and ineffective. Our research unearthed examples of good practice but the holy grail of systematic measurement of the business impact of L&D appears to be as elusive as ever.

– Our report concludes by offering a ‘Six Step Process for Enabling the Workforce of the Future’ built on the many excellent practices brought to light in this research.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story @ Enabling the Workforce of the Future: Trainers’ Learning Skillnet

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