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Upskilling, Reskilling and eLearning during pandemic

Everyone knows the extreme importance of skills development today.

This is even more true in the current context, in which the covid-19 pandemic has brought with it extreme job uncertainty. According to the Cornerstone People Research Lab, a global company in people development solutions, "A License to Skill: Embracing the Reskilling Revolution", 76% of employees, 88% of HR managers and 91% of management they say they are convinced that the difficulties brought about by the crisis will change the daily work experience, but they will also be the bearers of a unique opportunity to outline a concrete path towards the development of new skills.

According to Cornerstone On Demand, "the increase in volumes regarding professional e-learning recorded during the lockdown period" is also due to the strong interest in upskilling and reskilling that has been manifesting for some time. In fact, "Covid-19 was a strong accelerator also for initiatives that were already planned". In 2020, distance learning (both in the business and academic sectors) registered record numbers, as well as the demand for eLearning content and solutions, of trained people and access to platforms compared to periods of health "normal".

Companies use online learning to help employees adapt to smart working and allow them to become more productive and efficient (safeguarding their health). According to the research, "while top management and employees unanimously recognize the value of skills, they do not demonstrate the same confidence in the effectiveness of skills-based learning programs: only 60% of employees believe that the company is truly able to help the team develop new skills for the future, and about 40% consider the tools provided ineffective ". What are the causes of this gap? There are various factors at play, but the ones that have the most influence are time (61% of participants), money, orientation and the availability of educational content. However, nearly 50% of participating employees are concerned that their role may change dramatically over the next few years and 30% fear that the current job will no longer be needed. In general, there is a strong awareness of the importance of learning and improving in the course of this change and it is clear how users are looking for more and more new learning experiences in line with their needs.

The lack of certainty and the lack of motivation represent an opportunity for managers, called, now more than ever, to create a well-rounded learning culture in the workplace. To do this, it is necessary to offer personalized training to employees, improving the user experience. It would be companies that would have to transform managers into coaches by providing them with the tools to get to know individual collaborators better (by identifying, for example, an in-depth profile of skills, interests, personal and professional aspirations) and thus create experiences that take into account the person in the its totality. 

The number of users of online training courses from mobile devices is on the rise, especially in the countries most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Italy has seen a 435% increase in access to online training;
  • Spain, Germany and the Netherlands saw an almost 3-fold increase in online course enrollments.

The study shows that employees have independently sought this kind of learning (even if not imposed from above) and have done so to satisfy an immediate need, but in a flexible way, according to schedules and preferences on the format dictated by themselves, without constraints associated with the office environment.

Companies look to technology with confidence to implement employee skills development (upskilling and reskilling). According to employers, what are the priorities and methodologies for staff growth?

  • technologies to initiate and enhance skills development (42%) and technical training in STEM disciplines (42%),
  • the improvement of learning in the workflow (41%),
  • leadership development (40%),
  • social learning opportunities (38%).

"Training should have a real impact on people's development. The advice is to take surveys to understand how people are learning to make sure you offer the training formats and plans they need, remembering that learning is an adaptability accelerator".

It is therefore essential to offer employees a learning that helps them deal with all aspects of working life. Therefore, the training must have certain characteristics:

  • be available on any device and provided within the workflow in the tools used for the job. If the training is offered in different formats (social collaboration, microlearning), it quickly becomes assimilable and easily applicable; memorization is greatest when employees feel the need for training (it is not imposed on them) and can immediately apply it to a real-world situation;
  • be personalized: it is important to make it easier for employees to find the most suitable training. Technology can help present targeted opportunities to employees based on their skills, experience, aspirations and preferences. In any case, in order for companies to adapt quickly, they need to promote concrete and incisive training and this requires repetition, reinforcement and consistency. In fact, authentic training always leads to change (of mentality, behavior, results).

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