Microlearning puts reskilling in the fast lane: Key learnings from financial services
By Daniel Mason, VP EMEA at Visier
Although skills shortages are nothing new, they continue to hamper both businesses and employees in equal measure. The statistics, at least for the moment, look ominous. According to one survey, around 70% of workers feel they do not have the skills needed to succeed in their jobs. And this is not just limited to one sector.
The financial services sector is also facing something of a skills crisis. Our own research shows that more than half of employees in the industry are currently looking for jobs outside of their current company in the next year, with more than six in 10 of those people considering moving into another profession.
Indeed, the underlying reasons behind the skills crisis is more subtle, and much of it has to do with a lack of opportunity to develop skills. It is a problem for business leaders, with seven in 10 saying that their organisations are already facing a skills shortage which will present challenges over the next two to three years.
Despite the worrying figures, the financial services sector as a whole is moving in the right direction.
In fact, it stands as an example of leadership best practice for tackling an overwhelming and immediate demand for new skills. For instance, the dramatic rise of ecommerce due to social distancing and physical store closures has prompted many banks to give large segments of their workforces new skills so they can work in related roles.
With proof of concepts like this on the rise, any lingering executive resistance to the ‘build from within’ approach will likely recede in 2022.
The power of microlearning
There are many lessons other industries can take from financial services and its approach to skills training and development.
One trend is the adoption of microlearning. Centred around embracing strategic, bite-sized learning to reskill teams and managers on the job, it offers a contemporary alternative to corporate skills programmes that were defined by traditional classroom settings and off-site training.
With in-the-moment learning, employees can develop skills at their own pace by accessing content through their desktop or mobile devices. This can cover everything from technical skills for coders to soft skills for managers leading their teams through the uncertainty caused by the pandemic.
What financial services firms have done well is advance microlearning from an ad hoc process to an institutionalised norm set within wider strategic plans based around identifying gaps in knowledge.
Skills development in 2022 – top tips
So, how can firms from other sectors start to embrace microlearning and ensure their approach to reskilling and upskilling is successful?
As a starting point, data should underpin any strategy. Before setting out on building your skills strategy for 2022, data should be obtained on which tasks are best suited for automation, business direction, the skills to get there and the intermediate roles that people should consider to help achieve their goals. Furthermore, data-driven coaching represents one way of closing skills gaps. This involves leveraging career pathing data which shows how employees can transition from one role to the next. Opportunity marketplaces, for example, have emerged during the pandemic as a way to promote workforce agility by moving people to where they are needed most, thus enabling employees to learn through new on the job experiences.
It is also important to appreciate that a series of micro-changes can combine to become greater than the sum of their parts. Once again, data will help demonstrate this. With a unified analytics platform that connects learning, employees, and business data, business leaders can instantly see the impact of learning activities on key business metrics such as productivity and even absenteeism.
But, we must not forget soft skills either. Despite the natural inclination to believe that tech skills are predominantly what is needed in today’s modern digital society, the reality is that soft skills are more important than ever, especially for managers. According to a study of US companies, the skills most needed in a post-pandemic world are innately human. These include agility and flexibility, teamwork and collaboration, and global and strategic thinking.
These are just some of the ways organisations can develop strategies to address the burgeoning skills gaps. What is clear is that the traditional approaches have become outdated. Today, agile, flexible microlearning holds the key to extracting the full potential out of our workforces.
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