more than re-skilling

Here is the advice of the co-founder of Degreed on a ‘workplace self-training paradigm‘.

First, encourage them to think of reskilling as a game — one they now have more control over winning …

Next, help workers manage their skills with regular checkups to evaluate their current expertise against market conditions …

Finally, work with employees to pinpoint opportunities to put their new skills into action.

It reminded me of advice that Lilia Efimova gave fifteen years ago — on which I based I my own PKM framework — which is a broader approach to workplace learning than merely looking at work from a training or re-skilling perspective.

“To a great extent PKM [personal knowledge management] is about shifting responsibility for learning and knowledge sharing from a company to individuals and this is the greatest challenge for both sides. Companies should recognise that their employees are not ‘human resources’, but investors who bring their expertise into a company. As any investors they want to participate in decision-making and can easily withdraw if their ‘return on investment’ is not compelling. Creativity, learning or desire to help others cannot be controlled, so knowledge workers need to be intrinsically motivated to deliver quality results. In this case ‘command and control’ management methods are not likely to work.

Taking responsibility for own work and learning is a challenge for knowledge workers as well. Taking these responsibilities requires attitude shift and initiative, as well as developing personal KM knowledge and skills. In a sense personal KM is very entrepreneurial, there are more rewards and more risks in taking responsibility for developing own expertise.” —Lilia Efimova (2004)

1. First of all, work is already a game, so looking at re-skilling as another game layer could be fraught with problems and complications. Instead of playing individualized games, people should be encouraged to interact and experience caring for others — relatedness. Most work is done in groups and often collaboratively. Why should re-skilling be an individual activity?

2. While the market may reward certain skills, these are temporary. Soft skills are permanent skills. Soft skills are human skills, which take time to develop and usually require a social context. For example, we cannot learn empathy in a room by ourselves. Skilled and competent workers who cannot relate to  others are useless in a networked organization and economy.

3. All of our learning is connected. Skills are not developed in isolation to the rest of our life. Professionals learn mostly from their daily work and their team members. Coaching and feedback is important, as are new opportunities. A more holistic approach than looking at individual skills would be cognitive apprenticeship which requires that supervisors model workplace behaviours. So instead of focusing on others “putting skills to action”, supervisors should model these skills in the first place.

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