Employers need to embrace a virtual learning strategy

According to research, over a third of full-time respondents across a variety of industries said they want remote work options from their existing employers.

 High tech giant Amdocs headquarters in Raanana. (photo credit: FLASH90)
High tech giant Amdocs headquarters in Raanana.
(photo credit: FLASH90)

While remote and hybrid work has certainly been helping to improve work-life balance for many workers, the Great Resignation is still in full swing. Why?

According to research, over a third of full-time respondents across a variety of industries said they want remote work options from their existing employers. However, this notably trailed other areas, including training and development, with more than half of respondents flagging this as a critical demand moving into 2022.
Interestingly, even though many organizations are looking for more virtual learning and development approaches, employees may not be noticing. One-third of the same survey respondents worry they will have fewer opportunities for training and reskilling, or they will disappear completely with the rise of remote work. While organizations of all sizes are considering their future of work, this should not only be something to keep in mind but something to help inform business decisions moving forward.
As we’ve seen over the past few years, technology is advancing at a record pace, leading to a growing skills gap in hi-tech industries. Now we’re seeing workers develop new skills outside of their traditional trades and marketing themselves as assets to businesses for their unique skill sets. The rise of these types of workers created what is now called the “skills economy” – a dynamic and new reality in which people constantly acquire skills and remain relevant to the ever-changing needs of a developing economy.
Coupled with an ongoing pandemic that is still affecting the world, the tech industry should see the skills economy as an opportunity to not only backfill some of its open positions but also create a wealth of opportunities and new capabilities within enterprises.  In a workforce that is hungry for talent (and where “ready-made” talent is in short supply), the ability to upskill and acquire skills effectively will continue to drive organizations to form new, innovative platforms and methods for growth.
 Daphne Gottschalk (credit: Courtesy of Amdocs) Daphne Gottschalk (credit: Courtesy of Amdocs)
Changes in company needs and employee evaluation are an opportunity for businesses to better understand the gaps in their capabilities and begin to prepare the necessary training, development, and recruiting pipelines to accommodate those gaps.

IT’S ALSO a time to prepare for the future and consider what technology will be critical to the workforce in the coming months and years. As of late, areas like cloud, DevOps, and microservices have been increasingly more important to enterprises. This is especially true as digital transformation continues and the cloud becomes central to keeping pace with new consumer and business demands.

When creating new training programs within an organization, it’s important to keep in mind that the demand for reskilling and upskilling doesn’t just exist in current employees; almost all respondents said when searching for a new job, it’s very important a company offers a strong training and upskilling program. And with many new hires beginning jobs while working remotely, the importance of equal training both inside and outside the office becomes even more critical.
With this, shifting completely to a virtual learning strategy (even with workshops and organizational development sessions which are typically face-to-face) will be increasingly important. While some may see this as a hamper on company culture, instead they should see it as a way to create the next generation of development programs. Research indicates that even with the pandemic, there was a 12% increase in learning and development activities last year by implementing these flexible approaches.
Finally, in today’s economy, every employee can manage their own career path. No longer is it up to the discretion of management to decide who gets to learn; it’s now in the employee’s hands to further their careers and grow as professionals. In addition to individual efforts, however, managers should encourage their teams to be their own advocates and support them in their learning and career initiatives and goals.
While the past few years have been particularly trying, the tech industry needs to continue to focus on fostering and growing existing talent. Especially as the world transitions to the new workforce, keeping employees engaged at every level will be critical in the coming year. This will certainly be the year of learning and the year of the employee when they can learn to grow and succeed in a world that is slowly emerging from a pandemic.
The writer is head of talent management at Amdocs.