Today’s disruptive business landscape has changed the way we view the future of work and the traditional relationships between employers and employees. Pre-pandemic norms have been shattered and in a sense the world has moved on, looking forward to a future of hybrid work environments (and potentially with hybrid employees too).
Employers are challenging even the most fundamental view of how we see employees. In the past, it was often the case that we saw employees as part of the organisation, a valued asset that need nurturing over time but in today’s new normal, employees can be contracted into the organisation and the usual lines of where employees fit in is getting a lot blurrier.
Take for example, Grab who is a giant in the space of ride-hailing in ASEAN. Drivers are not considered employees of Grab and hence the traditional levers of learning and development (L&D) are not as applicable as it would be if they were direct employees. The process of growth now seems unbalanced between what the contribution is from the employer and the employee. Not sure we can even use the term “employee” in this sense.
In the future, the most high-valued work will be cognitive in nature. With the advent of AI and ChatGPT, employees will need to be ready and upskilled to perform the most high value work that requires domain expertise, creativity and digital literacy to solve complex problems. Automation and repetitive tasks will be out phased by technology and AI.
Therefore, the shift in L&D is going to be a major imperative for HR professionals as they need to establish a culture of continuous learning to encourage this shift forward to an organisation setting where employees are learning and keeping pace with market trends. Staying constant is no longer an option.
At TalentStore, we believe this shift is inevitable and we wanted to lay out our 3 main pillars for the future of L&D.
Pillar 1: Connectivity Matters in L&D
What do we mean by connectivity? Having access to the right learning solutions in minutes or seconds. In the world that we’re living in, the era of convenience has taken over. Millennials will account for 75% of the global workforce by 2025. If we look closer to Asia, this percentage of millennials is closing in on 25% of the total population. Baby boomers are ceasing to be the most influential segment of the population. Fundamentally, the way the world is being viewed at is going to change.
Therefore, the way we access and move through the web of corporate L&D will need to change and the traditional network effects between learning providers and corporations will erode over time. Today, the name of the game is to utilise technology to circumvent the challenges of the past and to get to solutions in minutes. Having direct access to suppliers and understanding their capabilities will need to be as simple as purchasing a pair of sneakers on Amazon.
Pillar 2: Social Proof Needs to be Transparent
In today’s world, we look for social proof everywhere, whether it be in choosing a handphone to purchase or choosing the right restaurant for a weekend dinner. The rise of product review stars on YouTube is a testament to this new shift in understanding quality and using social proof in selecting any product or service. Social proof is definitely not a new concept as we can see the impact of customer or influencer testimonials on old marketing advertisement. The change has been social media and how we view social proof from the point of accessibility and effectiveness.
The way we view L&D services or any bespoke service need to change in tandem. Customer testimonials have transformed our view of a product and having some sense of trust in 3rd party reviews have dramatically changed the buying process, be it in the B2C or B2B space. Ultimately, people make purchasing decisions and indistinctly we are always looking for ques of social proof.
Pillar 3: Culture of Continuous Learning vs. One-off Training
Do I embark on one-off training engagements versus a system of continuous learning? is no longer a valid question that organisations need to answer. The answer is clear, the only question at hand is how can I afford and sustain it?
In Post Corona, a fantastic book by Scott Galloway, he coins the term “The Culling of the Herd: The Strong get (much) Stronger”. We could not agree more and there is already a lot of evidence around this where large and profitable organisations tend to suck up most of the talent that is available because they are able to offer options to employees that cover growth and learning opportunities. Having bigger budget is undoubtedly a fantastic differentiator and it creates a dent in the skill and talent capture area.
On the contrary, smaller organisations have to be very creative in terms of attracting the best talent in the market and one area where small to medium sized organisations have an advantage in terms of being nimble and making decisions quickly. Moving quickly might be an antidote to lower budgets. Showing a real emphasis on personal development regardless of budgetary constraints might allow smaller organisations to create employee value in ways that larger organisation can’t.
Ultimately, we need to understand that core skill sets are evolving. The World Economic Forum states that 50% of employees would need reskilling by 2025. That statistic is rather scary as it implies that 50% of our workforce is outdated. We need to move fast to a culture of continuous learning to stay ahead.
Making an L&D Impact in Malaysia
In summary, the 3 main pillars we think will reshape the L&D landscape are below:
- Connectivity matters to the current and future workforce
- Social proof and its impact on consumer behaviour is increasingly shaping our decision making
- Continuous learning vs. one off training engagements – building a culture of learning are the way of the future
So, what can we do in Malaysia about the future of L&D? We can think of two options that are low hanging fruits.
The 1st step is to fully utilise the HRD Corp levy. If you refer to the 2021 annual report that HRD Corp releases, the statistics are pretty dire. We see that in 2020, the HRD Corp levy utilisation is around 61% in 2020 and 35% in 2021. That left about RM500MM in 2021 that was unutilised to impact and grow the Malaysian workforce. Granted it was during the times of COVID-19, but we believe as a nation, we should be getting close to 90%-95% of levy utilisation. Think of the HRD Corp levy as a pre-payment - not as a tax.
The 2nd step is to connect the B2B learning provider space and to incorporate the freelance training market as well into the mix. Having providers and solutions in one common platform will help drive more connectivity and quality transparency. Pricing transparency is still some way to go, as we are not dealing in a market where solutions are directly comparable, and hence pricing will vary based on the solution and client requirements. Having an option to reach solution providers in minutes and connect with them will allow us to also tackle the low utilisation rates that we see in 2020 and 2021.
Having the ease of connectedness allows the sales cycle of L&D solutions to be a lot faster and efficient and as a result we should see levy utilisation rates increase.
As of 2021, there is a total of 67,125 registered employers under HRD Corp and this number is definitely set to increase as the mandate now is to include any organisation that is larger than 10 employees. This provides another conundrum as newly registered employers will need to understand the landscape of corporate L&D and hence the additional need of a unified platform. Navigating through the traditional networks has become outdated and navigating through a more convenient mechanism is required. Think about how book purchasing was transformed through Amazon.
Lastly, this shift is a key part of the Malaysia 12th plan to develop future talent. The main aim is to develop a highly skilled talent pool that supports the demands of our growing economy. Leveraging on this levy is not just an organisation goal but a country goal. If we view the 12th Malaysia Plan targets, the move to a higher monthly income requires a holistic approach and this implies a stronger focus on learning institutions but also towards corporate learning and development.
Employees need the right tools to adopt to future market demands and L&D is a critical enabler in that process.
As we know, the future of work has changed the way we view the employee and employer dynamic and the trends indicate that this shift is a lot more permanent that we initially though. Addressing this shift in L&D will take a lot of effort but we have a lot of best practises from other industries. Allowing for social proof and connectivity is going to be a lot more mainstream and the industry is ripe for disruption.
Whether you’re an employer in a large or small organisation, the responsibility to effect L&D lies in the underlying culture of the organisation and we suspect HR professionals will need to be on the forefront in making this change stick. The time is right for a new mechanism in the L&D space and as a result, employees have an opportunity to ride the new wave into a better future.