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Workplace learning is an essential part of the overall effort to equip employees with the skills they need in the coming years. To contribute to the continuing upskilling and reskilling discussion is vital to join forces to collect new evidence on work and skills formation at the workplace.

New Technologies Create New Possibilities

As technologies and business models continue their rapid evolution, companies are experiencing a step-change in the workforce skills they need to thrive and grow. A new study has shown that the future workforce needs new skills. Nearly nine in ten executives and managers say their organisations either face skill gaps already or expect holes to develop within the next five years.[1]

Companies always have two main options to respond to new skill requirements: hiring staff with new skills sets (‘buying’ skills on the labour market) or developing skills internally (‘making’ skills). Most financial and other resources allocated to developing business skills concern formal or non-formal learning, and policy-makers have traditionally emphasised encouraging it.

Workplace learning helps people build the skills and knowledge they need to do their jobs. That could be picking up something in the flow of work or developing to advance their careers. The COVID-19 and social distancing throughout 2020 and 2021 crashed into the structural shifts brought about by the fourth industrial revolution. This has created new opportunities for workspace learning.

Motivate the Employees

Learning new skills motivates people. Updating the employees provide organisations with the workforce needed to perform better and adapt to future challenges. Before COVID-19 changed everything, workplace learning was already moving on. Organisations realised learners don’t have to sit in classrooms. And employees were reaching for their smartphones to learn. Unsurprisingly, 2020 saw digital jump further with spikes in e-learning courses, live online learning such as webinars, and the use of online performance support tools. 

To help unlock the potential of workplaces as learning venues, we need to grasp how people learn and understand what constitutes a learning-conducive work context. Taking a broader perspective on learning requires considering workers’ personal goals, motives, interests, attitudes, and preferences. The interaction of these factors with a person’s work environment and broader social context shapes their learning and its outcomes. Jobs do not only shape learning: learning also shapes positions. As employees grow, deepening and widening their knowledge, they often make more of their tasks, making their jobs more exciting and motivating. Learning through and via work is central to fostering workers’ and companies’ performance and innovation capacity. [2]

Learning at the Workspace is Your Own Responsibility

You experience many learning opportunities every day, and with a degree of metacognition, you’ll notice more of them. You often have to let them pass at the moment because you’re busy doing something else. But that doesn’t mean you should waste the opportunity. Write down a list of concepts, thoughts, practices, and vocabulary you want to explore, bookmark them in your browser, and add them to your list. You can later explore them when you have a few moments to reflect.

Josh Bersin says that he is constantly bookmarking things he wants to learn. As soon as he finds a spare moment, he reads the article, explores the demo, or just poke around and play with something he has always wanted to do better. He says that it is a personal and rewarding experience, and we all have times (including commutes) when it just feels like the right thing to do. [3]

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[1] McKinsey and Company: Beyond hiring: How companies are reskilling to address talent gaps, February 12, 2020

[2] Briefing note – Shifting our perspective on learning, CEDEFOP, SEPTEMBER 2021 

[3] Josh Bersin and Marc Zao-Sanders: Making Learning a Part of Everyday Work, Harward Business Review, February 2019

Lucubrate Magazine November 2021

The picture on the top of the article: Adobe Stock

Group of young people in technical vocational training with teacher

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Karl Skaar
Mr. Karl Skaar

He is a highly successful professional with a high degree of entrepreneurial flair.

- Responsible editor and publisher of the Lucubrate Magazine, Global
- Project Manager of the Lucubrate Project, Global
- Chairman of the Board of Directors of Norsk Kompetansebygging AS, Norway
- Chairman of the Board of Directors of Nobel Knowledge Building, Uganda

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