Preparing the Workforce for Digital Disruption with Learning 2.0

Digital transformation encompasses more than just technology — it requires re-envisioned business models that bring people, data, and processes together in different ways. A growing factor in the transformation journey is the gap between workforce skills and new business model needs. In this series we’ll discuss the Learning 2.0 philosophy for workforce development that is building steam in the marketplace as digital disruption grows.

“The impact of technological, demographic and socioeconomic disruptions on business models will be felt in transformations to the employment landscape and skills requirements, resulting in substantial challenges for recruiting, training and managing talent. Not anticipating and addressing such issues in a timely manner over the coming years may come at an enormous economic and social cost for businesses, individuals, andeconomies and societies as a whole.”- World Economic Forum

As business models change so do the workforce skills needed to support them. Organizational dependence on traditional education and talent consumption methods has led to a growing skills gap in the workforce that experts predict will worsen as the rapid speed of technology change continues. Establishing a culture of continuous learning is becoming a key tactic in people strategies to combat this growing challenge to digital transformation.

For a firm to remain globally relevant in the digital marketplace, they must find a way to rapidly and continuously re-skill the workforce. Traditionally, the burden of this responsibility rested with the Talent Development department. However, given the accelerating pace at which skills change, organizations must begin to view this challenge as a shared responsibility across all aspects of their business. The modern workplace learning culture is a coordinated effort by several stakeholders within the organization. In this blog post we will focus on the primary business stakeholders who can benefit from the workforce talent development strategy of the future- Learning 2.0.

Recruitment & HR

The decreasing shelf-life of skills in an ever-tightening labor market, has become a centralized theme as businesses transform for the digital world. The first step in filling this ‘skills gap’ is understanding that learning does not end with the formal gates of education. Because graduation degrees alone cannot withstand the speed of technical disruptions and change, companies around the world have adopted the Learning 2.0 philosophy as part of the hiring and onboarding process. Common characteristics of this philosophy include a recruitment strategy that looks beyond the resume to identify key candidate traits such as flexibility and adaptability that indicate a strong willingness to learn. Another impact of the Learning 2.0 philosophy on the recruitment and HR business functions is an added emphasis on agile learning throughout the onboarding process to increase frequency and intensity of competence and skills development. Thus, beyond consuming readily available talent from the market, firms must prepare to continuously invest in their talent landscape.

Corporate Leadership

The learning culture of an organization should be formed and communicated at the executive level to align with the overall business strategy. Using the clear link between skills development and the broader enterprise goals, business leaders can plan and drive a workforce development program to reach those goals faster. The support derived at this level will directly translate to how well and how soon the program is ingrained in the corporate DNA. Learning 2.0 instills employee development and growth as a key pillar of the corporate strategy and empowers each rung of the corporate ladder to deliver. To optimize employee reception and trust of these development programs, leaders should communicate a compelling strategy that clearly maps to corporate goals with framing policies and allocated funds.

Business Unit Leads

Business unit leaders and managers continually focus on the latest industry trends and insights specific to their business function in order to become experts in industry dynamics. This knowledge proactive approach enables them to chart a powerful plan for the professional development of the resources under their supervision and maintain the skills needed to grow as technology advances.

Because the leader(s) of each business unit is better informed on trends that will affect their direct reports, they can collaborate with other business partners and make informed decisions to design a holistic learning strategy that will consistently drive workforce development across the organization. Thus, along with delivering on current line of business targets, managers will also be equipped with a plan for maintaining relevancy of skills in their respective business units.

People Managers

Owing to their advantageous position of being directly in touch at the ground level, the role played by people managers in increasing the adoption of and assessing the reception of the learning programs is critical. People managers should share a commitment to the continuous learning philosophy and encourage employees to take advantage of training and development opportunities. As part of the guiding coalition for skills development with intimate knowledge of existing skills sets and strengths, people managers can help employees select the best learning path for their individual needs and career goals. These recommendations can range from traditional literature to self-paced, role-based learning paths. People managers make learning a lifestyle from the ground up.


Devising an ’employee-led’ learning campaign is instrumental to the modern workforce learning strategy. Preparedness to undertake learning is the focal attribute for this group of stakeholders. Whilst the organization will provide the infrastructure, support and encouragement required for learning, ensuring that the employee owns and believes his/her personal learning plan will help them reach their career goals is key to success. An employee, in partnership with their manager, can identify short term and long-term tactics and accountabilities for reaching those goals, ranging from obtaining a certification, attending industry events, joining professional associations and/or collaborating with the talent ecosystem.

“In this environment, learnability – the desire and capability to develop in-demand skills to be employable for the long-term – is the hot ticket to success for employers and individuals alike.”- WEF report

In conclusion, an organization with talent development at the forefront of their workforce strategies will be better equipped to manage skill gaps and withstand digital disruptions as the marketplace evolves. Adopting a Learning 2.0 philosophy to view professional growth as an integral part of the company culture and success can help you get there.

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