The last few blog posts that we published focused on how L&D teams could use microlearning as an effective tool to upskill and reskill employees at the workplace. Continuing our theme of learning and training employees in the post-Covid-19 era or the “new normal”, this blog post focuses on how L&D teams can consider virtual instructor-led training programs to bridge skill gaps in employees.
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Identifying Skill Gaps in the Current Work Environment
In our earlier blog posts, we had written in detail about how Covid-19 has affected organizations and economies globally. The modern workplace that we were accustomed to has taken a “forced radical shift.” Organizations look to find a balance between gradually allowing employees to return to office, giving up office space and expensive leases to opt for a completely remote-working model; and opting for a hybrid-working model. In any case, the role of L&D teams has grown in importance. With organizations looking to identify and train talent within the organization, instead of finding expensive resources from outside; “reskilling and upskilling” of employees is a major goal for L&D teams globally.
Identifying and Addressing Skill Gaps in Employees
In this article published in the Harvard Business Review in September 2021, the author Ian Cook shares insights into what is being termed as the “Great Resignation” wherein people are quitting their jobs. This phenomenon is not just restricted to the US but is being mirrored in leading economies in Europe and Asia as well. The key reasons cited for this phenomenon are:
- Burnout – with employees forced to work long hours
- A feeling of monotony and lack of appreciation at work
- No new challenges or learning opportunities
- The rise of the gig economy and freelance roles offering more flexibility and freedom.
The fourth point listed above is something that L&D and HR teams cannot address in their capacity. But they can work on the first three points to provide employees with a safe and enjoyable work environment that celebrates their work, respects their contributions, and offers ample opportunities to gain experience in new skills.
Evaluating Employees and Identifying Skill Gaps
When recruiters hire an experienced professional, they know the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses and based on their portfolio of work; know what to expect from them. But this is not the case when recruiters hire young graduates fresh from university or someone with less than two or three years of experience. In such a scenario, the impetus is on project managers or team leads and the L&D team to analyze the skills of the candidate and identify skill gaps that prevent the candidate from performing his/her duties properly. This can be done by administering written tests to the candidate, following the candidate’s progress in real-time, or assigning mock projects to the candidate, and examining how the candidate manages the same. In summary, evaluating young employees and identifying their skill gaps at an early stage is one of the most important tasks that the L&D team can perform before they can assign relevant training programs to the employees. However, it is important to note that skilling activity is a crucial strategy for both new and experienced employees for overall business growth and productivity.
Why is a Skill Gap Analysis Crucial?
The Milken Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank. In partnership with Infosys, the Milken Institute has published a report titled – Future of Work – Insights for 2021 and Beyond. Written by Kevin Klowden and Quintus Lim, the report offers some interesting insights on how Covid-19 has brought about a significant shift in the way employees and employers approach work. Some points of interest compiled from the report are listed below:
By 2030 in the US:
• McKinsey estimates that 16 million to 54 million workers may need to switch occupations.
• Oxford Economics forecasts some 2 million job losses in manufacturing due to robotics automation.
• A Brookings Institution analysis predicts that six in 10 jobs will face medium to high exposure to automation.
• PwC gauges that over a quarter of jobs could be automated.
Thus, it is evident that employees need to upskill and reskill themselves for their own security and ensure that they do not come to a stage that they are out of a job because a robot or an automated program has replaced them.
A skill gap analysis offers two key benefits. One – The employee knows where he/she lacks knowledge and needs proper training to work better. Two – the employer/organization can identify the right employee for a specific set of tasks and train the employee to do those tasks better and faster.
Using VILT to Address Skill Gaps and Train the Workforce
Microlearning and self-paced learning work as good reskilling and upskilling solutions when there is no time limit or training deadline to be met. When there is a specific training need to be fulfilled within a short period of time and the learners need to be assessed to check the efficacy of learning; virtual instructor-led training programs or VILTs are your best option.
By offering a blend of recorded training sessions and assessments, L&D teams can deploy VILTs to train employees and address the skill gaps that need to be filled quickly. By adding a deadline for course completion and mapping rewards and recognition directly based on the candidates’ performance in the post-course assessments; L&D teams can foster learning and improve learner engagement.
Key Benefits of Using VILT Programs for Upskilling and Reskilling Programs
- A common program can be created and supplemented with video lectures by subject matter experts to cater to a larger learning group.
- Can be structured in a manner that helps a specific set of employees take part only in the courses that are mapped to their skill gaps.
- A presence of an in-house instructor/trainer can supplement the training program.
- Virtual instructors can help the learners by solving their doubts and queries via Skype or email.
- Presence of instructors boosts the learner engagement levels and improves retention of learning.
Barriers and Challenges in Deploying VILT Programs to Address Skill Gaps
Some of the key challenges that L&D teams may face when opting for VILT programs to address skill gaps are listed below. Address these challenges initially to find long-term success with VILT strategy.
- Getting the right subject matter experts for different learning domains.
- Convincing employees to sign-up for the training programs and ensuring that they complete it on time.
- If the quality of the VILT is not good enough; learner engagement is bound to dip, and the program will not serve its purpose.
- “One-size fits all approach” to design the VILT may not work for a diverse learning audience. Invest in VILT content creation.
- With many organizations still working on a “remote mode”, for learners to access learning content from their homes may be a challenge. Deploy a platform that supports VILT and is cloud-enabled. A front-runner in learning technology is Origin Fractal to deploy VILT programs.
It is important to find the right balance between virtual instructor-led training programs, self-paced learning solutions, and blended learning programs to address the challenges posed by skill gaps and prepare employees for the future. VILT as a strategy for skilling has proved to be effective and many leading organizations have found incredible success. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how we can help you identify and address skill gaps at your workplace.