With the Right Education Partner, Every Workplace Can Be a Place of Continual Learning

By Joe and Terry.

Businesses in every sector have been working toward a digital transformation for several years, but Covid-19 accelerated this shift across industries. Employers need to continuously retrain their workforce to stay current with new technologies. If organizations are to prepare workers for jobs of the future, they must become places of learning.

As the economy and in-demand jobs evolve, our workers must adapt quickly. According to the World Economic Forum, a shift in the division of labor between humans and machines may cause 85 million jobs to be lost by the year 2025. As many as 120 million workers in the world's 12 largest economies may need retraining in the next three years as a result of an increasing shift toward artificial intelligence, according to IBM's Institute for Business Value.

A paradigm shift is required for this scale of retraining and workforce preparation. To thrive in this new digital area and to stay one step ahead of competitors, employers need to invest in the education of their employees and reinforce the importance of higher education. Employees need to learn in order to advance.

Employers are not trained to teach employees how to reskill. For the workplace to double as a place of higher learning, employers will need to build strong partnerships with higher-education providers that offer flexible programs and incorporate innovative technologies to help support these working adult students as they pursue the next step in their careers through education.

The following should be done by an effective employer-education partnership.

Meet employees when they are studying.

Those who are working and learning have time to spare. Students need the flexibility and support of their employer so they can learn, work, and balance their priorities. Flexible learning programs in which employees work toward a degree or acredential on their own time are what employers should seek an education partner that can provide.

Working adults need support after work hours. They don't have time to be put on hold or passed around to other support staff. Virtual assistants have made our lives easier and saved us time. Virtual assistants in higher education can help students with admissions processes, class updates, and assignment submission deadlines.

Students should be engaged and motivated.

Student engagement can be difficult with online learning. Adding this concern on top of other responsibilities for adult learners makes engagement even more difficult.

One way employers can better engage students is to partner with institutions that deliver course content in more creative ways than traditional lecture formats, such as by incorporating documentary-style videos instead of lectures. Students are more likely to continue through their next term if this approach is used.

The results of some of our coursework are noteworthy. Students in the Studios pilot course passed their business class at a higher rate than students in the equivalent non- Studios course and continued to the next term at a higher rate.

Gamification is a way to help motivate adult learners, as it is already part of our everyday lives. Gamification serves as a great way to teach online for students who are new to this type of instruction. It can help them get more comfortable with completing assignments online and encourage them to complete routine tasks such as reading a syllabus or signing in to the message boards.

Track your return on investment if you encourage employee participation.

Employers that offer tuition assistance or reimbursement programs are likely to have an education management platform to manage such back-end operations as disbursement of benefits and program verification. Many platforms are clunky, requiring employers to maneuver among multiple interfaces for information on an employee's education progress and spending, and making employees figure out which programs are covered under their tuition assistance benefits. Partnering with institutions that offer simple, easy-to-use platforms like Workforce Edge for tuition assistance programs may encourage employees to take advantage of tuition benefits and make it easier for employers to better track their return on investment in these programs.

A place of higher learning.

Keeping your end users in mind is the most important thing for your organization. A busy working adult does not have the same needs as a full-time student. Adult workers need training and retraining programs that are accessible and engaging. Every employer can become a place of higher learning with the right technology and educational partner, helping their employees achieve career and economic mobility while staying one step ahead of their competition with a highly trained workforce.

Learn how Strategic Education Inc. can help you train your talent pool.

Terry McDonough is the President of Alternative Learning at Strategic Education, Inc.