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Kevin Young

Skillsoft

General Manager

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Talent rising – train your way to the top

silviajansen

As the buzz around ‘Gen Y’ ‘digital natives’ and ‘millennials’ continues, it’s time to consider that the fundamental differences in motivation, training and development that exist between the generations, require radical reform within the workplace.

A recent study by Deloitte described Gen Y as opportunity-driven, seeking new chances for career enhancement over greater salary or a more secure job. In fact, when asked about their decision to join their current employer, 63.5% cited “opportunities for growth and development,” while less than 49.8% cited “salary and benefits.”

What does this mean? Well, clearly Generation Y represents a hidden powerhouse – future-oriented, enthusiastic and driven by opportunity – they are critical for global businesses in tough times.

However, in order to attract this new talent, many companies have had to completely rethink their incentives and employment strategy. Rather than offering financial rewards and job stability, employers are beginning to realise the importance of investing in their workers’ futures, providing high quality training and professional development for their employees.

Whilst meeting the demands of the younger generation will be essential in attracting new talent, learning and development (L&D) will be a necessity for many school and university leavers who are only just beginning along their career path.

Training a new generation

Despite the tech-savvy generation’s hunger for knowledge and accreditation, they appear to have considerably underestimated the importance of soft skills in the workplace.

This has been highlighted by a recent report published by CIPD, studying 16 – 24 year olds in the workforce, which identified several core areas in which many young people have been found lacking.

According to the HR and L&D professionals interviewed for the research, young people typically need training in professionalism, self-awareness and confidence and communication with colleagues. As these skills are traditionally developed in the workplace environment, it is unsurprising that many who are just beginning their careers are underdeveloped in these areas.

The real issue here however, is that these youngsters do not actually see the value in developing these skills, preferring instead to develop their technical knowledge and abilities. With learners lacking the necessary engagement to acquire these skills, it is the responsibility of the employer to implement effective L&D strategies that make learning more accessible and attractive.

While increasing learner engagement is the most important aspect of creating a successful learning experience, content delivery remains a hugely influential factor, especially for the emerging generation of digital natives.

Humans, by their very nature, are a diverse species and this is reflected in the fact that everyone has different skills and abilities and that nobody learns in the same way. The failure of many traditional learning systems including classroom learning styles and batch assessments is that they do not focus on the needs and preferences of the individual learner, at the cost of that learner’s motivation and engagement with the content.

How then can we ensure Generation Y is fully equipped to meet the needs of the workplace?

The role of technology

E-learning is not a new concept and has long been a tool allowing for universal sharing of content and improved accessibility. However, content without strategy cannot hope to influence change and development and for this reason e-learning providers have begun to utilise advanced technology to improve their solutions and ultimately the learning experience.

One of the biggest change drivers has been big data; providing us with detailed user-analytics capabilities, which can be used to shape learning pathways that account for both the learner’s ambitions as well as the company’s goals.

Just as important is the migration of learning programs and materials into the cloud, allowing users to access content on any device, in any location, at any time. The dawn of cloud based e-learning solutions has brought about a level of flexibility that gives each learner control over their own learning journey. This concept of putting the learner at the centre of the development process is fundamental in increasing engagement and motivation. This in turn will deliver significantly improved productivity for the employer and is the most effective method of combatting poor staff retention.

Though learner centricity has recently become a little cliché, L&D and the adoption of strategic orientation of customer centricity is crucial to ensuring that businesses stand out. The most important lesson for employers and HR professionals is that through enabling the fulfilment of personal development ambitions for millennials in the workforce, businesses can significantly increase their productivity and performance in the market.

Training to the top

The pressures of competitive business innovation mean that today’s leaders need to quickly adapt their L&D programmes to attract and capitalise on the full potential of new talent. By increasing employee satisfaction through personal and professional development, employers can secure and retain those highly skilled and valuable individuals who would be best suited to lead their company in the future.

Rewards have always been an essential part of a strong and efficient workforce, but the rewards for the modern worker have changed considerably. In a time of economic uncertainty, business leaders who fail to understand the importance of investing in their workforce risk losing employees to their competition. By adopting the ‘train your way to the top’ ethos, business leaders can create agile, empowered and successful enterprises, with deep talent pools at every level and established succession pathways to retain the most valuable candidates inside the organisation.

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Kevin Young

General Manager

Read more from Kevin Young
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