These days – thanks, in part at least, to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic – people in all sectors of the economy are learning to cope with such concepts as remote work, home office, teleworking, hybrid and flexible work arrangements. Consequently, organisations now need to develop strategies and systems to support this workforce, including providing appropriate technology and redesigning work processes.
Linda Steedman, Chair of the digital learning and assessment specialist, eCom Scotland, believes that, for private sector firms to maintain a competitive advantage and for public sector organisations to provide value for money for all their stakeholders, employers must instigate systems to provide mental and physical well-being support for their dispersed workforce, as well as providing for this workforce’s acquisition of new skills to meet the demands of the new workplace.
“As organisations operate in this ‘new normal’, with more remote (hybrid) working, the key pressures on learning and development (L&D) professionals will be to ensure that these remote workers are continually upskilled to meet the challenges of the new normal,” Linda argues.
To meet this challenge, L&D professionals could find it helpful to use digital badges as a key part of their strategy. Digital badges, along with licensing and certification, form part of the ‘micro-credentials portfolio’ which provides recognition for those participating in any form of structured informal learning. These micro-credentials, based on assessed proficiency – rather than time spent learning – widen adults’ learning horizons.
“Using micro-credentials, especially badges, give employers – and L&D professionals overseeing the learning process – leverage to improve, motivate and engage students in the learning process,” said Linda. “Moreover, they create common principles and frameworks with employers, with verifiable outcomes; help learners stand out against their peers; build the organisation’s brand for valuing learner achievement, as well as demonstrate what being ‘digital’ in the ‘new normal’ brings to all stakeholders.”
According to Linda, “The last five years or so has seen the rapidly increasing use of micro-credentialing, including digital badges – with eCom Scotland alone delivering over one million open badges to learners in client organisations since 2015.
“If you need to up-skill your organisation’s workers, then including a micro-credentialing strategy in your workforce planning should pay dividends, particularly in the light of the current digital transformation that’s taking place in the modern workplace – for all an organisation’s stakeholders, including the organisation’s leaders, learners and L&D professionals.
“Furthermore, it appears that flexibility is an important skill to master in today’s world of work, whether it means having the ability to overcome stress or being able to adjust to changes quickly,” she added.
“Being flexible can help people avoid being overwhelmed or stifled by change – not least because those who’re flexible have an increased ability to direct their development and personal life rather than being passive participants. This flexibility allows people to adapt to change, manage the unexpected and – importantly – stay employed.”
eCom, whose suite of digital learning and assessment products is available via G-Cloud 12, the UK Government’s framework for cloud-delivered ICT goods and services on the Digital Marketplace, believes that one way to address these issues while embracing flexibility is through making high-quality career development-related learning opportunities available online, ‘24/7’.
According to Linda, “Making learning materials available via, for example, the eNetLearn learning management system (LMS), on a curated or self-directed basis, helps improve workers’ awareness of what’s available to help them develop their knowledge and skills,” she said. “In addition, making access to these materials available online extends these materials’ reach and accessibility – especially during these unprecedented times when classroom-delivered learning activities are curtailed.
“In addition, accessing learning via eCom’s LMS, eNetLearn, eliminates the travel and subsistence costs associated with more traditional learning delivery methods. This helps to make learning in this way more ‘eco-friendly’ and makes a major contribution to an organisation’s learning becoming a ‘green, net zero’ activity.”
eCom (https://www.ecomscotland.com/contact/) creates innovative learning solutions – aimed at increasing learning engagement and driving productivity – to help organisations achieve their goals. With offices in Dunfermline, Scotland, and Athens, Georgia, in the USA, but with customers from around the world, eCom focuses on the delivery, tracking and reporting of workforce learning and development through innovative technologies. Its products and services address a range of workforce management, development and training challenges, including eLearning, online assessment, blended learning, competency management and accreditation.