Learning the right skills for the future

The world of work is evolving so quickly that new challenges and opportunities are emerging all the time. Changes within the public sector highlight the importance of equipping organisations and their people with the right skills for the future.
    
The way in which we learn at work is also changing. When the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), the professional body for HR and people development, published its annual Learning and Development survey earlier this year, it found a growing shift towards creating a hands-on learning culture, with internal knowledge-sharing initiatives such as job shadowing and social learning becoming increasingly commonplace.
    
Coaching by line managers or peers was the method of learning most likely to grow in use over the next two years, according to almost two-thirds of respondents. E-learning was the second most favoured learning technique, indicating that many organisations are increasingly using technology to support learning and development (L&D).
    
The survey also found that just 7 per cent of L&D professionals evaluate the impact of their initiatives on the wider business or society, with most limiting their focus to learner and manager feedback. A lack of effective evaluation can contribute to skills gaps being undetected, particularly in the use of innovative approaches such as new learning technologies.

It is difficult to predict the ways in which L&D will evolve over the next few years, but there are a number of key tools we have which can help shape the future, and evaluation is one of them. It is crucial that L&D professionals understand how different learning initiatives connect to people’s everyday roles and measure the impact of any L&D initiative.
    
New generations in the workforce will expect different things from L&D and their careers, so constant evaluation is key. In practice, a blend of methods and a range of delivery channels is important to maximise the impact of L&D on the workforce and the business as a whole.
    
The survey also highlights a number of L&D capability gaps (such as analytical and technological skills), which as a profession we need to address, says Ruth Stuart, CIPD adviser. These findings are also reflected in other CIPD research published this year (L&D: Evolving roles, enhancing skills). Many L&D practitioners report a lack of confidence in using learning technology and yet also predict growth in areas such as virtual classrooms and social learning. It’s clear that if we are to maximise the value of our investments, we need to make sure we have the right skills in place first. The importance of ‘L&D for L&D’ should not be underestimated.
    
With the public sector facing significant budgetary cuts, it’s even more important to ensure that the L&D investments we make are the right ones and activity is directed towards improving organisational performance. We’ve seen before that tough times can actually be the spark that fosters innovation. Therefore, it’s possible that in future years the most interesting L&D developments may emerge from the sectors currently experiencing the greatest challenge.

Future-focus
Future-focused HR is the theme of this year’s CIPD Annual Conference and Exhibition in Manchester. Thousands of HR and L&D professionals will gather at this major event, which takes place on 4-5 November. This year the event looks at the future of the profession, new developments in thinking and practice, and the drive towards greater value and impact in organisations and the economy.
    
Conference sessions will be geared around five key topic streams: Insights into Changing Context, which will look at understanding business change, and the external factors that are forcing the need for greater agility and innovation; HR Essentials and Learning Processes, which will look at exploring the latest issues which help maximise the capabilities and value of the HR function; Business, Commercial Insight and Analytics, which will look at progressing the agenda for people metrics and analytics to better understand business value and outcomes; Science of Human and Organisational Behaviour, which will look at getting back to our roots and applying research from psychology, behavioural sciences and neuroscience to rethink people management and development processes; and Innovation, Digital and Technology, which will look at what’s happening in the continued push towards use of technology and digital in driving more efficient and effective HR and learning practices.
    
Keynote speakers
Two keynote speeches from internationally renowned thought leaders will also be delivered at the conference. Sir Cary Cooper CBE, Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health and author of over 120 books, will deliver the opening keynote on bridging the productivity gap through mental capital and wellbeing at work, discussing the causes and consequences of stress in the workplace. He will also explore policies and interventions for enhancing wellbeing and reducing ill health in the workforce.
    
Herminia Ibarra, Cora Chaired Professor of Leadership and Learning, Professor of Organisational Behaviour at INSEAD and one of the world’s pre-eminent thought leaders, will give the closing keynote on acting and thinking like a leader for success. There will be two days of seminars, master classes and workshops featuring speakers from top organisations including Microsoft, Ministry of Defence, EDF Energy, Virgin Money and L’Oreal, and many other recognised leaders in the HR field.

Making the right changes
One of the case-study based sessions that explores the challenge of organisational change from an international perspective will be presented by Low Peck Kem, chief HR officer, Public Service Division, Prime Minister’sOffice, Singapore. Entitled ‘Delivering large scale-public sector transformation through effective HR’, the session will delve into HR’s role in delivering and embedding transformation across the public service. This includes strategies to remain an employer of choice that is progressive and fair, and enabling transformation by addressing skills and capability gaps in leaders and staff.
    
Another case-study session focusing on transformational change features speakers from HRMC and BBC Worldwide. The event will also be an opportunity to learn about, and contribute to, the CIPD’s ‘Profession for the Future’ strategy, which is focused on helping HR and L&D meet its full potential to champion better work and working lives in the rapidly changing world of work.
    
Peter Cheese, CIPD chief executive comments: “Advances in technology, globalisation and demographic changes mean the world of work is changing all the time. More and more organisations are starting to question and rethink some of the most well-established HR practices to be more adaptive and fit for the demands of a changing workforce, workplace, and the changing nature of the jobs we do. With he growing debate about purpose, principles, values and creating businesses that are truly sustainable in every sense of the word, HR needs to go back to its roots and really focus on the human in human resources.”

Exhibition insights
The CIPD exhibition runs alongside the conference, featuring more than 200 leading HR and L&D suppliers who will be showcasing their latest innovations and solutions. They will cover the whole spectrum of HR and L&D activity including OD and change, employee benefits, talent development and L&D technologies.
    
Alongside on-stand activities, launches and expert advice, the exhibition has a free programme of bite-sized learning sessions and insights from suppliers, echoing key themes on the conference agenda. CIPD experts and conference speakers will also be continuing discussion and debate on future challenges and opportunities in a new Future HR Arena on the exhibition floor.

Further Information
www.cipd.co.uk