Why is it important to give employees greater autonomy in training and career choices?

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Why is it important to give employees greater autonomy in training and career choices?

31 May, 2018

Redesigning work to allow people and technology to reach their full potential and building the culture of learning.


The transformations under way within companies, representing the fourth industrial revolution, are on an historically unprecedented scale. Large organisations that rapidly adapt their operating methods will be the most efficient over time. In particular, upcoming skills planning is a key issue that needs to be urgently addressed.

According to a survey conducted by the OECD[1], half of all jobs will be affected by automation in the coming years, with 14% being highly automatable (i.e., probability of automation of over 70%) and another 32% of jobs having between 50% and 70% of their tasks subject to automation.

Awareness of the transformation of jobs has not yet widely translated into implementing appropriate resources. According to a study conducted by Deloitte[2], for example, just 18% of companies stated that they give employees the resources to actively develop their skills and more than half of respondents said they did not have a programme for developing future skills and organising mobility.

One reason for this weak anticipation is an overly rigid approach to managing career paths, focused on positions rather than skills. One recommendation is to construct a system based on a skills repository, incorporating sufficient cross-functional skills to allow interconnections between business lines.

It is also necessary to put monitoring in place at an early stage, to develop the skills repository that the company will need and incorporate new skills. Thus large corporations incorporate the Strategic Workforce Planning. This skills base can also be used for appraisals and to construct training programmes. With the development of automation, certain skills which were highly valued in standardised process application will become less useful, since the corresponding tasks will be carried out will be automated. However, four skills will become increasingly important in the international community: Creativity, Critical thinking, Communication and Cooperation (the 4 Cs)

 Source: YouTube

Another explanation for companies stay behind competitors is the overly top-down approach to the managerial relationship which discourages employees from taking risks and exploring different options. Afraid of losing control, management is sometimes wary of giving employees the power/autonomy to position themselves and discover the skills which need to be developed. Just as the reform of vocational training in France aims to give employees the power to manage their personal training account, so career management needs to be more open. Employees regain control over their career development within the company.

New opportunities to move forward
The use of  big data by professional mobility applications [such as Monkey-Tie and Shairlock] opens a wide array of possibilities for employees and above all offers them information about the competencies needed to move on to the next level. Employees can then construct a career development plan and sign up for training relevant to one or more business lines. The possibilities created by new learning methods, combining e-learning with face-to-face learning, give companies powerful tools at a reasonable cost. Creating movement makes it easier to involve employees in business line transformations and overcome certain barriers to change.

Finally, the learning method is also in question, since our training methods in Europe have been based on knowledge acquisition (confirmed by a degree), which may be vital but is not sufficient to develop competencies. That knowledge is only effective when the employee can put combined knowledge into practice. Hands-on experience (doing) is therefore vital. Learning requires practice, which also involves experimenting. "Test and learn" is one of the keys to startups' success, as well as applying to large groups. The use of combined knowledge also requires interpersonal and behavioural skills.

Finally, the development of artificial intelligence will impact most business lines and man-machine interactions will be essential keys to success. A computer may be better at chess than the best human, but the man-machine combination is even better.

It is now urgent for everyone to be given the autonomy to construct their career development based on the company's current and future needs. The new culture of learning is fast evolving!

[1] Nedelkoska, L. and G. Quintini (2018), "Automation, skills use and training", OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers, No. 202, OECD Publishing, Paris
[2] From careers to experiences, Deloitte, March 2018

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