Truly equipping graduates for the world of work.
GUEST COLUMN | by Kieran Webb
The recently released 2016 Workforce Skills Preparedness Report compiled by researchers at Payscale suggests that the gap between the skills employers need and the skills students learn through formal education is growing ever-wider. Students are graduating from often expensive degrees with lofty academic achievements to boast of, but lacking in both the soft skills and hard skills needed to make a genuine business impact in the companies they hope to join.
I fundamentally believe in the power of learning new skills to change lives.
The report suggests that critical thinking, attention to detail, and communication are the soft skills graduates struggle most with, while writing proficiency, data analysis, and public speaking are highly sought after hard skills millennials lack.
Young people faced with a turbulent jobs market should resist the urge to invest even more of their money and, more significantly, their time into a formal education system that has essentially failed them.
The combined digital and mobile revolutions of the last decade or so give people a wider choice than ever in terms of managing their own personal and professional development. Solutions exist that offer access to a comprehensive range of workplace skills courses including completely free access to all materials.
There are unique benefits for employees and potential employees who upskill in this way; the ability to study whenever and wherever one can get online, the ability to move at one’s own pace and the potential to discover talents and aptitudes by experimenting with a variety of different courses.
Learners then have the opportunity – if they feel the need to – to return to third level institutions to achieve a more advanced level of insight into a particular subject, free from the fear that they might invest a huge sum of money and time into a subject they are not well suited to.
Completing e-learning courses demonstrates a candidate’s commitment to continuous professional development to employers, and enhances their competitive value in the jobs market.
Employers, who often spend extravagant amounts on Learning and Development, have much to gain from the world of online learning. Graduates who come into the workforce bursting with energy and enthusiasm but lacking the prerequisite skills for their new environment can easily combine on-the-job learning with relevant workplace training, at zero cost to the HR budget.
Of course, the benefits are not limited to new entrants to the workforce. Online training can be used as a performance management tool for established employees who are struggling to meet expectations, and to upskill employees who have changed roles within the company or been promoted.
Choosing e-learning offers organizations a highly flexible, scalable and enduring approach to training, whilst simultaneously freeing up budget for offline learning and development activities. For individuals, the availability of free online courses offers an immense amount of opportunity and freedom.
I fundamentally believe in the power of learning new skills to change lives. Every day, I hear stories of people from all walks of life, from stay-at-home mothers readying themselves to re-enter the workforce to budding entrepreneurs worldwide who use courses to equip them to achieve their aspirations.
The disruptive power of the internet that has seen AirBnB and Uber thrive while traditional models fail to adapt quickly enough, is taking the world of education and training by storm, too.
Kieran Webb is an Instructional Designer at Alison with a strong background in adult education.