Barco: The coronavirus was the boost the L&D sector needed to move forward; he must now maintain this momentum

Ed Monk, CEO of the Institute for Learning and Performance in Raconteur: Digital Learning 2021. It’s clear that learning isn’t just about courses, tutors, or platforms. It’s about attitude and action; it is the armor with which we fortify ourselves against challenges and adversity with confidence and eagerness.

Just hours after the news of the coronavirus was first reported, memes started arriving. Within weeks, people were ordering Zoom shirts on Instagram and sipping quarantines. Then the reality of juggling home schooling and vacation finances began to bite.

Yet out of chaos came progress. Restaurants have registered with Deliveroo. Yoga classes have gone virtual. Classrooms have been put online. Businesses have adapted to the most devastating year of the 21st century.

Those who prevailed had a vital advantage: not their office space or balance sheets, but the creativity of their employees. Programmers, marketers, salespeople, accountants, administrators – all have had to tap into vast reserves of innovation, agility and collaboration to save their businesses from disaster. For those who work in corporate apprenticeship, the lessons are unforgettable.

Miracles can and do happen in businesses that value human potential as deeply as gross profit. Second, people will adapt, learning new skills when and where they need them, not when and where they’re told. Third, nimble and flexible networked teams will naturally outperform single people in fixed roles.

Technology has also played its part. 2020 was a year in which going live meant survival, but before COVID it was considered an optional supplement. As a result, some learning and development (L&D) professionals found themselves ill-prepared and lacking the digital skills needed to operate machines.

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The fact that it took a global pandemic to drag online classroom training, when employees had been logged into YouTube and WhatsApp for years, was proof of the arrhythmia of the L&D profession to the pace of its learners. The coronavirus was the boost L&D needed to move forward. He must now maintain that momentum and move forward into a fearless digital future, developing next-level skills such as data analytics, artificial intelligence customization and performance consulting, and ready for the next challenge.

I have no doubts that we will be successful. Last year, more than 100 prominent business leaders signed a statement on a company’s purpose, pledging to “support employees through training and education that help develop new skills for a rapidly changing world ”. In the United States, the Securities and Exchange Commission recently required that training and development measures be included alongside the financial statements of certain American companies. These bold actions will undoubtedly have a huge impact on learning and development in the workplace. What does all this mean?

First, we must cultivate the human skills that will help us meet future challenges. Second, we need to develop digital skills to support a rapidly changing technical landscape. Ongoing skills mapping will become critical for workforce planning, as will the need for communities of practice that keep ad hoc skills up to date. For deeper learning, Ability Academies will become the backbone of specific business strategies and functional areas.

As we reflect on 2020, it’s clear that learning isn’t just about courses, tutors, or platforms. It’s about attitude and action; it is the armor with which we fortify ourselves against challenges and adversity with confidence and eagerness.

Business learning must now be strengthened and transformed. It must be convincing by creating an irresistible magnetic attraction for the employee. It must be constructive by fulfilling a purpose both for the company and its employees, while finding a balance between stability and dynamism. And it has to be practical by fitting effortlessly into the workflow, perfectly in sync with how people learn. Human ingenuity in harmony with digital skills, orchestrated by compelling, constructive and practical experiences: this is the learning meme of 2021.

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