Keep learning to come out on top!
Digitalisation has fundamentally changed the world of work. One example is how lifelong learning has become essential for career success. So what do companies need to keep in mind here?
Insight in brief
- The knowledge acquired during a person’s training are no longer enough to sustain them for their entire career
- Lifelong learning is the key to navigating the challenges of digitalisation successfully
- It is essential for companies to provide the right working environment and a culture that promotes learning
For a great many of us, the dream jobs we had as children no longer exist today. As digitalisation progresses, the way we work has changed dramatically, particularly in terms of how we manage information and communications, and the professions we choose to pursue.
According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), 65% of today’s school children are likely to work jobs that do not even exist yet. And the WEF estimates that by 2025, around 85 million jobs might be completely automated and performed by machines thanks to technological advances. At the same time, this will create 97 million new jobs. This transformation will primarily eliminate low-qualification jobs while creating new jobs that require highly qualified workers.
Lifelong learning: a digital success factor
So what impact will these developments have on the world of work? Artificial intelligence, big-data analytics, and cloud computing are expected to be the main drivers of business growth in the years to come. Companies have made it a top priority to put these technologies to good use. But the speed and scope of digital penetration in all sectors of the economy have presented companies with new challenges.
Deploying new technologies requires new skill sets, and companies have to develop these before anything else. The skills gap, i.e. the discrepancy between the qualifications that are needed and those actually available, has become one of the main reasons why companies fail to stay competitive. Utilising the full potential of digitalisation is only possible if employees possess the necessary skills. So it’s hardly surprising that ongoing career training has become more important in recent years. The half-life of knowledge continues to decrease, and the skills a person acquires during their professional training or studies are no longer sufficient to sustain them for the rest of their careers.
For this reason, companies are investing more in the professional development of their employees to ensure they have all the right skills. We often speak of ‘lifelong learning’ in this context as well. The term refers to a culture of learning conceived of as a continuous process and an integral part of the organisation. Employees are also increasingly expected to take the initiative themselves to pursue new learning opportunities and integrate them into their work processes.
Lifelong learning is considered essential to successfully navigating the challenges of digitalisation. And the economic figures speak for themselves: generally speaking, companies exhibiting a high degree of digital maturity invest more time, money, and energy into the ongoing professional development of their own employees. On average, they are also 26% more profitable than businesses that lag behind in the area of digitalisation.
Skills with a future
Companies have begun to play a more active role in the areas of occupational re-training and continuing education of their workforces. In addition to acquiring the necessary technical expertise, the following four skills are considered success factors for today’s increasingly digital world of work.
Against the backdrop of accelerating globalisation and rapidly intensifying competition, digital skills are becoming an indispensable part of companies’ successful development. This includes the ability to effectively use digital devices and applications and having advanced technology skills that can promote digital transformations in various business processes and areas.
Digitalisation requires new leadership models because technology has made its way into every single aspect of business. Managers must be equipped to navigate an increasingly complex and dynamic landscape. This requires that today’s business leaders be able to handle these changes and situations, and that they can recognise the potential benefits of digitalisation. Digital leadership is also often characterised by a more agile corporate organisation and a flexible, decentralised work organisation.
Our work environments are becoming more complex: more and more often, teams are made up of members located in different countries and working across a spectrum of disciplines. In this context, soft skills like emotional intelligence, resilience, and other interpersonal skills are playing a greater role than in the past. They are fundamental to successfully navigating increasingly complex work environments while continuing to drive innovation. At the same time, digitalisation tends to offer employees more freedom in their careers, whereby the ability to communicate and cooperate effectively and to work independently are becoming more important, too.
Lifelong learning generally requires that employees take on more responsibility for their own professional development. The trend is moving towards greater personal initiative to pursue learning tailored to the individual’s needs. This shift is also becoming embedded in today’s professional landscapes. This type of learning also requires good learning strategies, that is, understanding one’s own learning habits and being able to structure one’s own learning process. For this to occur within the context of a company, it is imperative that the right working environment and culture of learning exist.
This is why companies should focus on these four success factors. Feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss the topic further. For a glimpse into Zühlke’s learning culture, I recommend reading this interview with Reto Schmid, Learning & Development Lead.