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Workplace learning: where are we headed?

In the age of shrinking workforces and constrained budgets, most businesses are finding they have to do more with less. The business that empowers its workforce to have the knowledge – both human and digital – that they need, when they need it, the way they best understand it and in the amount they require has the competitive edge. It is all about the efficient management of time.

According to the American Society of Training and Development (ASTD), key factors that will drive investment in the future are the development of high performance workforces, employees with the skills to support globalization and preparation for an aging workforce. The hot buttons today are aligning learning with the business, achieving a measurable return and business results, and leveraging technology to drive a significantly improved learning experience.

How we support, direct and accelerate learning that is beneficial for our business requires, for the foreseeable future, a sympathetic, aware and trained human intermediary. The role of the line manager is crucial.

ASTD notes that moving beyond functional skills, there is increasing interest in equipping employees with skill sets that better support the broader responsibilities of workers today. Critical thinking skills, creative problem solving skills, and the skills required to establish and grow social networks will be more and more important to an employee’s success.

In the future, there will be a shortfall of qualified labor to fill positions. According to ASTD, research suggests that businesses will have to leverage workers that today might be classified as unskilled labor to fill this labor gap. This will place a greater responsibility to educate new hires in basic job skills; and because this occurs at a time when companies have a labor shortage, the learning must be integrated in the employee’s workflow.

While the ASTD report focuses on workplace learning, the relevance to Workers’ Comp is clear. It is not an on/off intervention when injury occurs, but an ongoing process, encompassing all aspects of the workplace.