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(6 tips for developing and identifying effective content for professional training)

Dado Guimarães (*)

The mismatch between a university education and the challenges faced in the real-world of business has become a recurring theme among top education specialists, HR departments and corporate trainers. With a job market at a constant boiling point affected by the rapid advancement of technologies, those who wish to keep a good job at a company, work as a freelancer or to start their own business, there is no other way about it than to be “students for life” and develop hard skills as well as vital soft skills.  

Having a just degree is no longer enough to begin a career, which means that training will no longer be limited to just 4 or 5 years spent at a college. The ability to solve complex problems, critical thinking skills and creativity, cultivating emotional intelligence, technological knowledge and empathy are some of the skills that will be increasingly required to be functional in this new market according to the World Economic Forum's  Future of Jobs report.

The professional competencies mentioned above are not necessarily limited to the academic environment but are acquired via experience and many years working in professional organizations. No wonder this new generation is searching for companies that will provide them with skill sets they were not taught in college.

This incoming crop of new talent (as well as those who are already active in the job market) will demand (are already demanding) trainings that fills gaps in their formal education, that is, they will require adaptive learning supported by a system capable of assessing which skills they need to develop.

One option that has been gaining ground is known as microlearning, which aims to shape a path of learning from taking “learning pills”, administered via the consumption of short duration courses such as video classes.  

In this case we have good news for you with an extensive, experience rich professional track record. Have you thought about transforming all that knowledge into fast-paced courses that can be made available via DL platforms endorsed by top universities or other channels dedicated to professional training?

If you think your knowledge is of little value, you are mistaken. There are many professionals out there who are thirsty for content produced by people that had to learn the hard way how to deal with the harsh reality of managing businesses and people. People who built companies from the ground up. People with leading roles in corporations. People who innovated and created disruptive startups. People who are doers and who learned to succeed by learning from their mistakes.

Be assured that sharing your knowledge will help a large number of professionals who are already graduates but unemployed or working in occupations that require lower qualifications.

Se você acha que seu conhecimento não tem lá grande valor, saiba que está enganado. Há muitos profissionais por aí sedentos por conteúdos formativos produzidos por quem vive o dia a dia do mercado e teve que aprender na prática como lidar com a dura realidade de gerir negócios e pessoas. Gente que construiu empresas do zero. Gente que levou corporações à liderança. Gente que inovou e criou startups disruptivas. Gente que faz e sabe quais os ingredientes e receitas para alcançar sucesso aprendendo com seus erros e acertos. 

Be assured that your knowledge will be of great value to unemployed or under-employed degree-holding professionals who’d love to acquire a new range of skills to make them more marketable.

A study done by the  IBGE (Brazilian Geographical Statistics Institute) concludes that over 2.5 million people with a bachelors degree are currently out of the labor pool or are working less than they would like. What’s more, 318,000 degree-holding professionals (out of 1.7 million) who entered the job market between 2013 and 2018 are involved in occupations that require no more than a high school education. This is a tremendous waste of talent!

This lack of alignment of universities with the demands of companies can be seen in the behavior of the newer generations. A TD Ameritrade study of 3,000 US teenagers and adults indicated that 1 in 5 Generation Zers (age 15-21) and millennials (age 22-28) don’t intend to go to college. And that's not all. 89% of Gen Z respondents and 79% of millennials envision an alternative path to the traditional 4-year university system altogether.

In another study conducted by the Wal Street Journal/NBC News states that Americans are losing faith in the value of college diplomas and deem it an unnecessary investment. 49% of those interviewed said that a college diploma will land them a high-paying job versus 47% of those who think otherwise. The degree of cynicism of those in the 18-34 aged group is even greater – 39%; just 4 years ago it was 57% who agreed that a diploma is important.

The former president of Harvard University Larry Summers offers a good explanation of why the newer generations are reconsidering going to college. “General Electric looks nothing like it looked in 1975. Harvard, Yale, Princeton, or Stanford look a lot like they looked in 1975”, says Summers, who is quick to point out the how universities are falling behind in terms of keeping up with the market and the demands of the newer generations, which is even more acute in the Brazilian educational system.   

The following statistic helps to confirm Summer’s assertion in terms of the impact a traditional education has on the careers of top executives: over 60% of people who appeared in the CEO 100 list compiled by the Harvard Business Review hold no MBA degree. Another widely known figure highlights the concern that universities are falling behind. Dell Technologies predicts that 85% of all professions in 2030 have yet to be “invented”.

The question is: how do we prepare these new generations of professionals if the universities are still in a 1970’s mindset? It is important to note that the life expectancy of students in college today may is around 100 years. It’s hard to believe that what they are learning today will be of any relevance in 70 or 80 years.

In an interview with Ryan Jenkins (public speaker and a specialist in “Gen Z”), Global Director for Talent Acquisition at SAP, Jenn Prevoznik has said that a university education is less important than personal skills. SAP is one of many companies that invests heavily in the training of its employees through in company courses  

“Gen Z students are asking recruiters if their companies will help them to develop new skills sets to accompany the rhythm in which jobs are changing”, Says James Manyika, Director of the Mc Kinsey Global Institute in an article written by him.    

Jenkins points out the fact that having come of age in an interconnected world surrounded by mobile technology, millennials think and act differently that the generations before them and require a system of learning that can engage them.

That is why he suggests that microlearning is the best way of getting the attention of this bunch, and I would like to add that it is effective when adopted by professionals of all ages; with classes that range from 2 to 15 minutes, focusing on the content becomes easier and can be done during a simple commute by bus or metro or even during work breaks.

 Jenkins wrote about 6 effective tips  for developing microlearning training, which also may be recommended to anyone looking to do a take a good course. Below I have paraphrased each of the 6 tips:

 

  1. Brief and Beautiful. In order to compete for valuable attention and time, training sessions should be succinct, intuitive and sleek in its design. We are used to using apps to access websites with nice layouts and well develop content; when we set time aside for studying, it’s only natural for us to want an experience that works on the same level and not one that seems amateur in nature. Information should be easy to take in, retain and remember when needed.   
  2. Agile and Acessible. We are increasingly more remote with our devices that grants us the autonomy to organize our time how we see fit. Therefore, the training sessions needs to be responsive and compatible with mobile devices; it must be agile and accessible at any time from anywhere.
  3. Instant and Intelligent. Sent information and knowledge which are useful in the preparing for you for your professional journey. Curate articles, videos, graphs that help to quickly learn solutions for your day-to-day life.
  4. Collaborative and Communal. Create communities where anybody can come to learn from their peers, allowing professional mentors to share their own experiences with young professionals in the beginning stages of a career and who are interested in expressing their learning desires with the rest of the group.
  5. Relevant and Relatable. Develop content of high relevance or they will not be engaged with. Think about all the challenges you may come across in your professional life.
  6. Blend and Bind. It’s important to develop real-world activities in order to make an impact. A personal, “eye-to-eye” connection is very important.

 

  • Allow me to add a tip of my own: Be Global. Produce and curate content that have a global scope and that attend common demands across different markets. In so doing, your knowledge will have an international reach, granting you the opportunity to learn from those with a different cultural approach.

 

Never before have we seen so many futurist offering their visions on the professional world in the coming decades; from the evolution of A.I. to the perfection of robotics and the advent of technologies yet to be invented. Truth is, it has never been more difficult to make predictions about the future as it is now. However, one thing we can be certain about is: only those who are flexible and adaptable will have the capacity to keep up with the rapid transformations that will propel us into a society that is 100% digital, interconnected and reimagined by innovative and disruptive companies that must count on professionals who possess technical skills coupled with socio-economic knowledge.

Let’s start passing on this knowledge to those who need it the most?

 

(*) Chief Academic Officer of InterGroup Education Technology 

Topics: education, microlearning, studying, adaptative learning, teaching