Re-imagining Corporate Education By Amit Goyal, India Country Head, edX

Re-imagining Corporate Education

Amit Goyal, India Country Head, edX | Monday, 25 September 2017, 11:36 IST

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Various research and reports have indicated that due to technology and automation, 50% of today’s jobs may not exist in 2030. Self-driving cars, personalized chatbots, Artificial Intelligence backed care bots for elderly care and robotics for manufacturing will replace vast swatches of support and mid-management jobs. What’s more, the remainder of the jobs left will either change completely or be different in some way. Corporates will be tasked with the challenge of how to empower their existing workforce to upskill and reskill to meet the changing demands of their jobs. Hiring fresh talent with new skill-set would be a much tedious, inefficient and costly affair than upskilling the existing workforce. Over the last few years, there has been a surge in continuous professional development among corporates using self-paced learning mediums. Digital learning (for example, MOOCs) provides options for businesses to train employees in the most in demand, cutting-edge fields – like Artificial Intelligence, Cybersecurity, and Data Science at learner’s own pace and convenience without taking them off job roll.

If digital learning is the way of the future, then let us first address what this digital approach looks like:

• It is experiential: Skills training can no longer just be hour-long slideshows with a quiz at the end; it should be experiential and dynamic, with video, text and sound, game-like visualizations, and instant feedback.

• It is flexible: Just as how we get to watch our favorite TV shows on our own schedule and at any location with Netflix, skills training must become on-demand and be able to adapt to the employee’s lifestyle rather than have the learner work around a static and fixed course schedule. Employees should also be able to learn wherever – whether that means on their lunch break, on their couch or at a café. Providing the employee with the ability to access courses on multiple devices will be absolutely necessary for catering to our everyday habits with our mobile devices. And, just like how we sometimes enjoy binging on a series now and then, skills training must also be available in small bite-sized chunks or large doses, depending on the learner’s appetite and schedule.

• It is social: In addition to being able to learn whenever and wherever, employees must also have the option to learn in a community with instantaneous social interaction. This means that employees must be able to provide feedback and recommendations to others. They must also be able to learn from each other and have discussions in small or large groups when needed. Whether sharing socially with employees who sit five desks away or five countries away, the social element is key in a digital approach to corporate learning.

So, how can we address the demand for the skills and knowledge needed to address the workforce of the future?

• Take an ‘unbundled’ approach: Taking an ‘unbundled' approach to learning in the corporate space means embracing new, digital education models that allow for flexible, innovative online credentials for professionals. Today’s corporate learners want flexible, affordable, real-time knowledge and skills that enable and prepare them for a specific job or career that is currently the most sought after, such as Supply Chain Management – a field experiencing a worldwide talent shortage.

• An example of an ‘unbundled’ innovation that was developed to address this need, is the MicroMasters initiative, an educational innovation from edX, offering a new category of Master’s-level online education to bridge the knowledge gap between higher education and the workplace. MicroMasters programs offer in-demand knowledge and a cost-effective, flexible pathway to an accelerated on-campus program or to career advancement. Offered in subjects ranging from artificial intelligence (from ColumbiaX) to cybersecurity (from RITx), business management (from IIMBx) and supply chain management (from MITx), MicroMasters courses are created by esteemed universities, valued by top companies, like Walmart, IBM and GE, and linked to specific career outcomes.

• Another example of this type of ‘unbundled’ learning is the launch of Professional Certificate programs, which are a series of in-demand courses designed to build or advance critical skills for a specific career. Created by industry leaders and top universities, Professional Certificate programs help develop the skills and actionable knowledge needed for today’s top jobs through a flexible and affordable online learning experience.

• Take a ‘hybrid’ approach: Hybrid jobs are taking the workforce by storm - mixing equal parts traditional business knowledge, like management or relationship building, with equal parts in-demand and in-the-moment new age skills, like data analytics or coding. As we see more and more hybrid jobs emerge, online learning is instrumental for corporates. Employers can use online learning offerings to help employees gain the blended skillsets they need for hybrid roles. Whether it is empowering a member of the marketing department to learn about data analytics or providing a member of the business intelligence team with a course in communications. With online learning, there is an ability to quickly upskill and reskill employees to meet the demands of hybrid roles.

• An example of how the employers can help their workforces gain the skills needed for hybrid jobs is the partnership between edX and Catalyst, the leading nonprofit organization with a mission to accelerate progress for women through workplace inclusion. Catalyst has developed a series of highly-relevant courses for companies looking to invest in leadership development and team building skills for their employees. In addition to offering these courses to learners for free via the edX platform, Catalyst also works with companies all over the world to integrate these courses into training programs for employees - truly allowing companies to invest in ‘hybrid’ skills.

As we further dive into the 21st century, all businesses will have to think strategically about how they will train their current workers and identify new workers to address the future workplace landscape. For companies deciding how to best meet this challenge, choosing to digitize learning and training by using MOOCs, is a clear path. This digital approach to training benefits both employers and employees; companies are looking for ways to provide their employees with deep, in-demand learning that will help them advance in rapidly growing fields and employees want flexible, affordable, real-time knowledge and skills that fit their lifestyles and prepare them for the workplace of tomorrow.

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