Future of learning is in up-skilling, re-skilling and cross-skilling


Kelly Palmer, chief learning officer, Degreed, talks to HRKatha about how the learning paradigm is changing, and how this career-long learning platform offers curated, self-directed, outcome- driven learning.

Learning is not a new phenomenon. It has existed ever since there has been life. However, it has truly evolved a lot over time, allowing human beings to grow and progress as well. Fifteen years ago, the focus was on instructor-led learning, but the way people consume content has completely changed now. Therefore, the way it is delivered also needs to be relooked.

Kelly Palmer, chief learning officer, Degreed, believes that the method of delivering only instructor-led learning is antiquated, because that is not the only way how people learn. Palmer shares that instructor-led learning is often not applied on the job. In fact, 80 per cent of it is lost within 30 days of the delivery of training. It is a blend approach of curated learning, e-learning and classroom learning, recording, tracking and applying every skill that you learn. Learning needs to tie into skiils and career paths and Degreed alludes to this proposition.

“Acceleration and digitisation are the two pillars that can strengthen organisations’ learning strategies,” she says. Acceleration in terms of keeping pace with the changes in learning needs and expectations, and digitisation of learning delivery in terms of automating the process and enhancing learner experience, now rule the game.

Acceleration and digitisation are the two pillars that can strengthen organisations’ learning strategies

While organisations don a new outlook towards learning, there are two critical questions they need to address—Are our people equipped with the skills required to succeed in the future of learning and work? And, do we even know what skills my people have in the company and what skills are required? What this means is, the conversation around learning needs to shift focus towards skill requirements, in order to ensure organisational and individual success in the coming times.

Palmer shares the example of smartphones. Two decades ago, people had never even imagined using such swanky gadgets, but now these very devices rule our world. “Similarly, kids under the age of five today, 65 per cent of them will grow up to take up jobs that we cannot presently imagine. But this is where organisations need to rethink,” she opines.

Solutions such as Degreed, help build a learning ecosystem, taking a learner centric approach. This means, that when you are putting together a learning strategy, it is not only about what content to put out there, because people are learning outside of the content provided by their L&D organisations. Books, videos, podcasts, MOOCs (Coursera, Udemy, Udacity) provided content need to all come together for it to become an effective learning ecosystem.


“There is no point being afraid of AI or automation taking over jobs,” she says. Rather, organisations need to align talent to the new kinds of jobs that will appear with the disruptions in technology. Through machine learning and AI-enabling content curation—basis people’s skill requirements, interests and aspirations—there is so much that technology allows organisations to leverage in terms of how they personalise learning for their people or access learning.

65 per cent of kids under the age of five today, will grow up to take up jobs that we cannot presently imagine. But this is where organisations need to rethink.

Content is accessible through different sources and people are bound to easily find it in some place or the other. Palmer reveals that 67 per cent of people find most relevant content outside their organisational learning programmes. Consumerisation of content is proof that organisations need to create a strong ecosystem of learning, with a stronger platform at its core—one that delivers to people what they expect.

Palmer believes businesses are readying for the future when she says, “The good thing is that organisations are now paying attention to ensuring a renewed outlook towards learning, as they realise that learning is about preparing people to embrace the future.” She reasserts that old-school learning programmes are passé.

“The science of learning demonstrates that self-motivation is the key to learning and in line with that, organisations need to let people decide what or how they want to learn, rather than force-fit learning content upon them,” she says.

The first point of the conversation needs to be upscaled around skill and then it will lead into AI and Machine learning will flow into the learning strategy. Skills will be the biggest competitive advantage for businesses. The learning strategy, the skills strategy becomes a part of the larger business strategy.

While a learning ecosystem is critical, ultimately, it is the realisation that learning is a constant and ever-evolving process that will help people grow and sustain in the future. Sharing the idea behind Degreed, Palmer rightly says, “Traditional degrees sustain a professional only for a few years, but upskilling, reskilling and cross-skilling are essential to be able to survive in the future.”

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