November 17 2020

Learn Better

We could write books on this topic; indeed googling “Learn Better” returns 4.59 billion results. But you are not here to read a book, so we will try to keep it (reasonably) short :)

2020 has been a year of extreme disruption; coping with the pandemic has accelerated a longer-term trend that will see industries change more in the next 5 years than in the last 50 years. The world is changing so fast that L&D must also include meta-skills development to help people be better equipped to deal with change. Organisations are advised to dedicate time to enable employees to develop these key skills. 

The pace of change is only going to increase and the 21st century is going to remain challenging and uncertain. As such, businesses know they need to upgrade their teams’ abilities in order to keep up or stay ahead of the game.  To respond to this, organisations need to be looking at soft skills training and implementing it fast.  But where to focus?  What are the skills we all need to develop?

Organisations should be developing their people’s meta-skills — a master skill that magnifies and governs the ability to improve other skills. Meta-skills allows us to engage with functional expertise more effectively. They are a catalyst for learning and building new skills faster. Learning a second language constitutes a skill. A meta-skill, on the other hand, is the ability to learn new languages. Once that meta-skill has been developed, it becomes easier to learn a third or a fourth language.

One of the most evident results of the Covid-19 pandemic has not been about how digitalisation has enabled the workforce to continue but how the workforce has learned and relearned how to use the soft and hardware available to continue and prosper in the most challenging of situations.   

Traditionally L&D has focused on Primary (technical) skills, and Secondary (behavioural) skills. While this type of learning remains essential, we have an opportunity to embrace the future and look at Tertiary or meta-skills that include training for habits and mindset.

"We have the tools at our disposal. The bounty of technological innovation which defines our current era can be leveraged to unleash human potential" says the World Economic Forum's Founder and Executive Chairman, Professor Klaus Schwab.

It used to be the case that learning a particular trade or skill meant we could land a reliable career. These days, however, constant learning is both expected and required to stay relevant. Rather than developing competency in, say, analysis or communication, modern life demands that we become more agile and able to shift quickly towards the skills that challenges require. That is why cultivating meta-skills is so important. As more jobs become automated, possessing these skills will be more important than ever.

L&D needs to champion these new meta-skills that help people develop the right growth mindset. A good place to start is by looking at the 4D’s of how people learn [source: Modern Workplace Learning by Jane Hart]:

  • Discovery – people learn for themselves, e.g. Informal learning searching the web, articles (like this one!), videos, podcasts
  • Discourse – people learn by interacting with each other e.g. Social learning through networks
  • Doing – people learn from working e.g. Experiential learning on the job
  • Didactics – people learn by formal training e.g. Digital learning courses

Here at CWL, we infuse our digital learning with each of these elements.  We use a variety of techniques, formats, and feedback loops to deliver our soft skills courses. This helps learners grow in tandem with the knowledge acquired in the jobs. Our workshops integrate with our client’s platforms to complement and interact with their current on the job tools.

It is difficult to establish the long-term consequences of the pandemic on the demand for products and services across affected industries, and supporting workers during this transition will protect one of the key assets of any company— its human capital. Businesses are accelerating the digitalisation of learning and the expansion of remote work. The current moment provides an opportunity to focus on improving the access and delivery of digital learning with the goal of investing in human capital.

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