Category Archives: Changing face of L&D

7 ways to make self-directed learning stick

By Amelia Fuell

Cartoon image of learner training her brain, caption: step by step I trained my brain not to wander offLearning has never been more accessible. For virtually any skill – whether it’s learning a language, coding, business management or yoga – learners motivated by their own personal needs and goals will be able to find an online platform or application that has been created to help them. Self-directed learning is becoming more popular too: for example, 58 million people have registered for a massive open online course (MOOC)s since 2011, with nearly half of those signing up in 2016 alone.

But while technology has widened opportunities for skills development, information overload is a growing challenge. There are some 80,000 different education apps on the App Store alone. Furthermore, attrition rates are high: over 90% of people who start a MOOC will never finish it. In the age of distraction, many of us are guilty of downloading an app on our phones with good intentions, but then failing to use it long term.

If you are keen to start learning new skills online, then it can be hard to pick the right course and even harder to stick at it. So how can you create successful habits that will help you learn effectively and achieve your goals? Here are a few essential tips …
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Lumesse launches new product for the age of the self-directed learner

By John Helmer

Me:time logo and running man imageWe’re really proud to announce the launch of a ground-breaking new product for the self-directed learner, designed to help organisations succeed in today’s fast-changing business environment.

me:time was created and conceived by the Lumesse Learning team following an extensive process of consultation and research into the needs of learners and learning professionals. Employees are increasingly taking control of their own learning, and at the same time organisations are discovering that nurturing and supporting a culture of self-directed learning increases their ability to survive and thrive.

Offering a consumer-style experience, me:time puts the needs of self-motivated learners first, giving instant, anywhere access to curated learning supported by AI-driven recommendations. A system of credits allocated by the organisation gives learners full control over their personal me:time budget.

Andrea Miles, General Manager for Lumesse Learning, said: ‘me:time represents a radical rethink in learning control and choice, freeing the learner to self-serve. We’re passionate about this new approach because we think it can contribute massively to the wellbeing of employees. Organisations, too will benefit as they know they need to encourage continuous learning in the face of increasing demands to be nimble and smart, and meeting the challenges of talent retention and mobility. We’re incredibly excited about what we’ve created and look forward to introducing it to all our valued clients and to progressive players across all sectors.’

me:time key features:

  • Focused on individual needs and goals
  • Instant, anywhere learning
  • Credits-based subscription system
  • AI-driven personal learning recommendations
  • Wide-ranging curated content from world-leading providers
  • Consumer-style experience and brand

Find out more on the me:time website:
www.metimelearning.com


8 pointers for learning enablement

By Carole Bower

How do you ‘enable’ learning? That’s a question that many Learning and Development people are asking right now as they strive to become “invisible” – a term Bersin uses to describe “a mind-set and approach that enables and assists learning wherever and whenever it occurs in an organization”.

invisible L&D

Self-directed learning, invisible L&D and learning enablement are all big themes for Lumesse right now. In the latest edition of The Curve magazine, I wrote about how organisations are shifting from a top-down learning approach to the enablement of self-directed learning, and our recent Think Tank event revealed that the organisations we invited had a consensus view on the validity of an invisible L&D function (as long as the importance of L&D was acknowledged and the results were not invisible!).

The Curve: issue 4

So back to the big question – how can L&D switch their focus from creators and distributors of learning to the enablement of learning, where the impact is definitely felt?

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Mind the gap: digital skills in the age of artificial intelligence

By Adriana Hamacher

Digital Skills Gap

Esther Animashaun was working as a sales associate for stationery retailer Moleskine when opportunity came knocking. Having dropped out of college uninspired by what she was learning, Esther still refused to give up on a career in IT. But she was after something different and one day she found it via an apprenticeship provider. Esther is now working to plug a gaping hole in the UK’s IT skills pipeline, the result of burgeoning demand for artificial intelligence technology. AI investment is gaining momentum; 42 per cent of companies are planning to ramp up spending over the next five years and one in five has recently done so, according to a new survey by the Confederation of British Industry in association with IBM.

The benefits are irresistible. AI technologies promise to improve operational efficiency and reduce costs, they also upgrade legacy IT systems, improve data and analytics, enhance client services and, as a result, increase revenue generation.

Experts estimate that over the next six months business leaders plan to hire more programmers, project managers and apps developers. And within the next three years the emphasis will be on finding data analysts, cyber security experts and artificial intelligence and automation specialists.

The only problem is that workers like Esther are thin on the ground. According to MPs, the UK will have a shortfall of 745,000 workers with the necessary digital skills by the end of the year and looming immigration controls are doing us few favours.

The Curve: issue 4

Highly prized

Digital skills are generally understood to be the ability to use computers and digital devices to access the internet; the ability to code or create software and to critically evaluate media. The Tech Partnership, the UK’s vehicle for action on digital skills also highlights information management, communication, problem solving and creativity. These, they say, are the skills most highly prized by employers.

What’s meant by artificial intelligence also needs definition. AI is often used very loosely to describe various technologies capable of addressing operational efficiency and other needs. They fall — broadly — into three business categories:

  • Robotic Process Automation: to replace manual handling of repetitive and high-volume tasks.
  • Machine Learning: using vast amounts of data to train a system and fine tune it (Deep Learning is a specific method of machine learning and has been a game-changer in this space).
  • Cognitive Analytics: making deductions from vast amounts of data, using processes that mimic the human brain.

Unusually for someone working in a field as specialised as AI, Esther has no university degree. She and four male colleagues have been hired by back-office solutions company Voyager to bolster its Robotic Process Automation (RPA) development team, in response to competition from offshore service providers. RPA is, in the short term, expected to account for a large slice of AI spending, particularly within the financial sector where Voyager operates. The apprentices are learning to model business processes and training robots to interact with a wide range of systems. They work for the company for four days a week and study for the remainder.

Insurance provider Aviva is another example of a company that’s investing heavily in AI and associated technologies. Aviva’s technology hub for product development has radically streamlined customer services, but it’s also meant changing skill set requirements for the firm; rather than recruiting for actuaries, Aviva now can’t hire enough data scientists.

Increasing requirements

Aviva’s experience reflects what is likely to be a common pattern: a focus by future thinking employers and employees on those areas which the machines won’t replace. In the age of AI, machines won’t take over the digital world (studies indicate that only 5% of jobs can be completely automated), but the scope of that world will radically increase.

The financial sector is a pertinent example. Management consultancy Opimas forecasts that, by 2025, AI will lead to around 230,000 less jobs in the sector. Asset management will shrink the most, with around 90,000 people being replaced by machines. On the other hand, close to 30,000 new jobs will be created for technology and data providers, in response to the financial industry’s increasing requirements and demands.

Thus AI can be viewed as a building block for digital skills. Job candidates, like Esther, who have passion and a desire to learn (rather than those with highly-defined technical skills) may be the best way to bridge the gap and to avoid job automation for tech roles in the future, with training on the job increasingly prevalent. A survey by recruitment agency Mortimer Spinks indicates that 33 per cent of new tech and digital workers enter the sector through cross-training via unofficial means, such as shadowing or learning in their own time. Paul Church, director at Mortimer Spinks, warns: “If you don’t have a desire to learn, you are going to get left behind.” The research also found that 76 per cent of non-technical or non-digital workers would consider a career in tech or the digital sector, which indicates a willingness to re-skill.

The UK government is also plugging the digital skills gap by introducing new training measures. Five international tech hubs in emerging markets are being created to develop partnerships between local tech firms and UK companies, encouraging collaboration on skills, innovation, technology and research. The government’s digital strategy, introduced earlier this year, promises four million free digital skills training opportunities. The government has partnered with a number of leading companies such as Lloyds, Barclays and Google pledging to provide face-to-face training for individuals, charities, small and medium businesses and children.

But experts warn that, despite their increasing availability, public and private incentives may not be enough to plug the gap without a great deal more funding, and current training and learning systems will not match needs within a decade. There are also people who are incapable of or simply uninterested in self-directed learning.

In fact, alarm bells are ringing about the disappointing number of children, particularly girls, signing up to do the UK’s new computer science GCSE. A couple of years ago, in response to concerns about the changing technology landscape, the government made it mandatory for children aged between five and 16 to learn computational thinking as part of the computing curriculum, but many say this has not been as effective as hoped, pointing to an unimaginative syllabus and poorly equipped staff.

Consensus is growing that what the IT sector needs is nothing less than a make-over, a marketing campaign portraying a career in tech as something that is fun and inclusive, emphasising soft skills — creativity, analytical thinking, problem-solving, multitasking, verbal and written communications — to attract people who can then be trained in the technical aspects of the role. Especially for girls, who often view tech as a male-dominated and uninteresting sector, showcasing those who have taken an alternative route into technology would provide encouragement and inspiration.

As a young, black, female working in a male-dominated, highly-lucrative and rapidly-changing sector, Esther can anticipate yet more career changes. She’d make an ideal STEAM ambassador; a super role model.


Robots need not apply: a future-proof guide to jobs in the automation era

By Adriana Hamacher

I’ll kid you not, it won’t be easy. Companies looking for fail-safe strategies for the coming years will need to create specialised work environments for jobs that don’t yet exist, in sectors that have not yet been created. A recent WEF study found that 60 per cent of the jobs that will be most in demand over the next decade have not even been invented yet. What’s more, according to some analysts, a large portion of core academic curriculum content is already out of date by the time students graduate. Skills instability is on the up in all industries, with many current roles hard to recruit for.

desktop robot

Image by Matthew Hurst/Flickr

It’s not helpful that the experts disagree on whether automation will have a devastating effect on human employment or not. What differs from previous waves of upheaval, many say, is that the pace of change is greater and its effect is broader; the automation era demands that displaced workers in routine, unskilled jobs graduate to non-routine, skilled jobs to stay ahead, instead of moving to similar-level jobs in other industries as before. Early indications suggest the employment market isn’t evolving fast enough to keep up with this change.

Others argue that automation increases productivity which leads to economic growth and new jobs. In the developed world, 3-D printing will drive companies to bring their manufacturing back to their home countries; self-driving vehicles will give people more time to consume goods and services, boosting demand. Humans and machines will also increasingly partner to great effect. To highlight an example: autopilot didn’t put pilots out of a job; instead it foreshadowed collaboration between human and machine on complex tasks. The increasing popularity of collaborative robots –cobots– is further evidence of this trend.

Capitalising on our humanity

It’s no surprise that, in a technological age, most new jobs will be in specialised areas: computing, mathematics, architecture and engineering. Technology also has a habit of obsoleting itself at an increasingly accelerated pace, so we need more people to create new tech, maintain it and help others use it. We need expertise in design, testing, implementing and refining smart automated systems. AI firms are said to be busy hiring poets to write dialogue for chatbots.

Some jobs are always likely to be better done by humans, especially those involving empathy or social interaction. Research by Deloitte, in the UK, finds that the future workforce will benefit from a “balance of technical skills and more general purpose skills such as problem solving skills, creativity, social skills, and emotional intelligence.” Jobs that fall into these categories – nurses, trainers, entertainers and more – will probably fare well in a more automated world. That’s not to say that AI and robots won’t eventually be capable of performing these roles (in some cases better than humans), but the recent resurgence of artisans in cities worldwide shows that just because something can be automated, it doesn’t mean it will be.

Survival of the most adaptable

But the reality is that in order to keep up-to-date with the latest technological advances, people will need to consistently retrain. Thus the future of work will soon become “the survival of the most adaptable”, to quote Paul Mason, emerging technologies director for Innovate UK. Holding a job for life will rarely be an option.

AI will also require big changes in the way education is delivered, just as the Industrial Revolution demanded in the 19th century. Industrialisation simultaneously transformed both the need for education and offered a model for providing it, prompting the introduction of universal state schools on a factory model. AI could well do the same.

But surfing the automation wave will likely demand more of humanity: a shakeup of our core beliefs surrounding work and its value may be long overdue. “In our fast-changing world where innovation and adaptation are more and more the critical success factors, another increasingly important measure of the effectiveness of an organisation is not just how productive it is but how intelligent it is”, writes Thomas Malone, director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence.
“Intelligent organisations will be better able to adapt rapidly to changes in their environment, better able to innovatively take advantage of new possibilities, better able to be flexible and sense and respond to the world and not just do more efficiently what worked yesterday.”

HR’s shopping list for the automation era

This is a snapshot of what’s to come in the next five years, rather than the long-term (for that, see http://www.futuristspeaker.com/business-trends/55-jobs-of-the-future/):

  1. Machine Learning Specialist: Developing algorithms that can “learn” from or adapt to data and make predictions is a job likely to stay hot for some time. Lots of maths, preferably a PhD, needed.
  2. Interface Designer: Increasingly crucial as systems get smarter, robots become part of our lives and interfaces become more natural, incorporating gesture and speech.
  3. Nano-degree Developer: Traditional apprenticeships typically involve five to seven years of training, which doesn’t make sense if the skills you need are constantly changing. A nano-degree (perhaps in data science or website programming) can be completed in a few months, alongside a job.
  4. Industrial & Organisational Psychologist: the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, says this sector, concerned with the study of human behaviour in organisations and the work place, is expected to grow by 53 per cent from 2010 to 2020. In fact, psychologists will be increasingly necessary to help us adapt to automation in every sphere, from trusting a self-driving car to counselling remote military operators.
  5. Neo-generalist: less about “doing all sorts of work”, and more about “connecting everything”. A manager, strategist or system designer.

 


How UX took over the world

By Tony Bartholomew

Don’t we all love Buzzword Bingo?  ‘Learner experience design’ is one of the newer buzzwords in our industry – and ‘Learner Experience Designer’ is the hot new job title. The emergence of these terms marks a subtle but important shift in thinking: from designing chunks of instructional content, to designing an experience for the learner. I’m not at all cynical about this trend. I think it’s a long overdue development for the practice of learning design and for our industry as a whole. But I’m pretty sure I know where it came from. Continue reading


How L&D can help line managers to support learning

By Duncan Barrett

website_blog_300x170While many organisations are looking at how best to support a culture of learning and meet the needs of self-directed learners, many are still dealing with the challenge of engaging employees around content that needs to be delivered and understood by its workforce, whether for compliance or operational reasons.

For L&D teams facing this challenge, the most important ally must surely be the line manager.

We explore these themes in our webinar: Learning in the Line: L&D, line managers & the self-directed learner 

Line managers form a silent (or not so silent) army of support that is ready, willing and able to guide their teams in meeting the challenges of uncertainty and complexity that are sweeping through the world of work as we know it … Well – something along those lines!

In truth, line managers are pulled in multiple directions to meet the needs of the organisation as well as their team.

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11 ways to empower the self-directed learner

By John Helmer

Graphic ident for research report Me Time: Empowering the Self-Directed Learner Recently our Head of Transformation, Rachel Cook, contributed a piece to this blog about how changes in the pattern of employment are shaking up the employer/employee relationship. One of the most interesting aspects of Rachel’s work for us was how these changes ­– momentous enough to get analysts talking in terms of a ‘fourth industrial revolution’ – are highlighting the phenomenon of the self-directed learner.

Aware that this is a source of much debate for the learning and development clients we work with, and in many cases a pain point, we wanted to know more.

We reached out to our research partners, Towards Maturity, for help in investigating this phenomenon, and commissioned a report written by Peter Williams, editor of e.learning age entitled Me Time: Empowering the Self-Directed Learner that you can download for free. The findings were fascinating. Continue reading


The uberisation of work

By Rachel Cook

uberisationChanges in the pattern of employment will have a significant impact on learning, recent research indicates. In many cases these effects are being felt already. L&D professionals need to make preparations now, so as not to be caught on the back foot.

Seismic changes are shaking the world of work. A shift is seen in the relationship between organisations and the people who work for them, typified by the disruption wrought in the transportation industry by Uber. Uber, a ride sharing app enabled by GPS and mobile technology, is now starting to dominate the US business travel market. According to the Economist and Certify, in the first quarter of 2016, Uber and Lyft accounted for 46% of business ‘ground transportation’ trips in America. Traditional competitors (notably, taxi firms) have been displaced with surprising speed. It is not just the technology that is causing this market disruption, but the business model used by the company. Uber has a permanent employee base which represents its core beliefs and practices but also a huge flexible component. Continue reading


L&D skills gaps the chief barrier to progress in learning analytics

By John Helmer

Graphic to illustrate Learning Analytics theme with graphs, etc. in a thought bubbleCapability gaps, and a historical culture of not evaluating training, are seen as major barriers to success in learning analytics for L&D. Learning analytics offers L&D a wealth of new opportunities it was found, but our Think Tank delegates identified nine key challenge areas.

Lumesse Think Tank events are held with an invited group of L&D leaders, who discuss issues in learning under Chatham House rules. Contributing to this debate were delegates from the worlds of finance, logistics, FMCG, mining, pharmaceuticals, professional services and commodities trading.

Download a highlights report of the whole discussion.

And for a deep dive into the section on challenges, read on as we address the following question:

Where are the biggest challenges/barriers for L&D in learning analytics?

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