How to Find the Time to Upskill
Fifty years ago — or even 10 — your career path was vastly different from today. In older models, you would graduate, get a job and, aside from the odd quarterly seminar, put learning behind you. But that’s no longer a viable model. The half-life of work skills has dropped drastically in the last few decades. Most learned skills are only useful for about five years before advancements render them obsolete.
Even world leaders are taking notice and taking action. The Indian government, for example, has launched — and recently expanded — a program to encourage workforce upskilling.
Building a culture of learning is essential for organizational and economic survival.
Upskilling is imperative, but it can be difficult to make it happen. How do you balance learning with your daily work?
Here are three steps to help you find the right balance at your organization.
Cut Back — Less is More
Traditional classroom training can provide benefits, but only when implemented in a thoughtful and strategic way, says Katy Caselli, founder and president of Building Giants, LLC. “A lot of training just doesn't work at all because leaders think it all just happens in the classroom,” she says. “Leaders don’t consider their responsibility to be involved in the needs assessment to send employees to training in the first place.”
Partnering with leaders in the organization to determine where training is lacking is a critical first step. Prioritizing training on the front-end saves the pain of wasted time and effort down the road. “It’s better to scale back on the amount of training you’re doing to focus on quality and strategy,” Caselli says. “If you're not taking the steps to make it come out right, 60 to 90% of that training could be wasted.”
Reinforce in Daily Practice
The key to successful learning outcomes is practice. “Employees have to go into a class knowing that they will be putting what they’re learning into practice,” Caselli says. “The training is wasted if they don’t move knowledge from short to long-term memory by using it.” Managers can work with HR to place trainees in positions where they can use the knowledge they’re learning in class.
Reinforcement can also be achieved through online learning modules, says Eleftheria Papatheodorou, training manager at TalentLMS. “Modern content-authoring tools help you create specialized training according to specific skills,” she says. “You can build interactive content, including simulations when needed.” Incorporating just a few minutes of reinforced training each day can bring about huge results.
Technology offers significant benefits in supplementing and reinforcing classroom training. Especially in maintaining interest in training activities. “Learners’ engagement is becoming a bigger and bigger challenge,” says Papatheodorou. “It is important to pay attention to new technologies and emergent practices in upskilling that help maintain engagement.”
Mobile phone-based quizzes and training modules are especially beneficial in keeping employees engaged without sacrificing a lot of time. “Apps that can be used on the go and use gamification can make upskilling more fun,” says Papatheodorou. Cementing learned knowledge through quick smartphone-based modules supports an accessible and time-sensitive culture of learning.