Mark Onisk, Chief Content Officer at Skillsoft

Upskilling staff to meet the demands of the digital age: The next phase in the learning curve

Mark Onisk, Chief Content Officer at Skillsoft tells PCR about Skillsoft’s latest phase in its collaborative learning Career Journeys, offering on-demand, learning modules to upskill staff.

As part of Skillsoft’s existing series of Aspire Journeys, which are curated to develop skill proficiencies, Career Journeys takes the enterprise to the next level by delivering personalised and connected learning experiences for the most sought-after roles.

Skillsoft’s Career Journeys sound like an interesting proposition for upskilling staff, tells us more about why this was created and how this fits within Skillsoft Percipio?
The skills needed for organisations to remain competitive are being redefined at an accelerated rate. Leaders widely view the current talent shortage as the number one threat to business, and they cannot simply “hire their way” into closing skills gaps – competencies must be developed from the inside out. To help address this challenge, Skillsoft has strategically added new learning modalities to Percipio such as instructor-led training, digital coaching, and hands-on practice labs. Career Journeys bring these together in one offering, resulting in highly engaging and career-oriented learning experiences that fuel skill mastery, buoy talent retention, and build competitive workforces.

As digital transformation intensifies, gaps in technology-related skills are proving especially pertinent. Skillsoft Career Journeys was created to meet this challenge. The newest learning offering within the Percipio platform, Skillsoft Career Journeys, are a series of learning programs that enable employees to develop and master mission-critical competencies at scale and year over year.

The multi-modal program is a mix of live, on-demand and hands-on learning, providing employees with the training they need.

Across all Career Journeys, Skillsoft supports learners from skill literacy to mastery by providing clear guidance for recommended learning sequences and formats, personalised development plans via Skill Benchmark Assessments, and access to subject matter experts that support learners when they are are faced with complex concepts.

What are the key benefits? Why was it developed, and who for?
With Skillsoft Career Journeys, learning experiences are curated around specific job roles and skill profiles within a given domain. The first two Career Journeys we have built are the First Time Manager Career Journey and Cybersecurity Career Journey, both of which will help learners develop critical competencies at scale. There are a range of benefits, but they key ones are the modular format, which are run on within Skillsoft Percipio, allowing organisations to build scalable and sustainable programs for the entire business.

Programs foster networking, and mentorship opportunities amongst peers. Conversations between learners facilitate visible, group thinking and learning from one anothers experiences.

Content and certification preparation materials are developed through close partnerships with subject matter experts and allow for live Q&A.

How does this help address the current skills shortages challenges in the channel?
Technology and a prolonged global pandemic are driving near-constant change, meaning the skillsets and competencies businesses need to stay competitive have evolved. As these skills become increasingly scarce, organisations will start seeing the challenging effects on their business.

The main obstacle with developing competencies is that mastery is often needed, especially in critical skills like leadership and cybersecurity. The skills required to remain competitive today differ vastly from those needed a year ago. And to build competency across the organisation, businesses must find a way to build and develop these skills in a more flexible approach that applies to a spectrum of learners – this is where Career Journeys comes in.

Can you tell us more about Skillsoft’s Cybersecurity Career Journey?
The Cybersecurity Career Journey features a curriculum that offers a blended learning approach which combines traditional course content with real-world scenarios, practice labs, and team-oriented lessons. Skillsoft’s Cybersecurity Career Journey combines 900 hours of on-demand content, 300 hours of hands-on labs, 100 practice exams, and 99 days of instructor-led training, all mapping to more than 20 in-demand IT certifications.

How does Skillsoft support learners?
At the root of it, Skillsoft enables upskilling and reskilling. Our mission is to propel organisations and people to grow together through transformative learning experiences. In developing content, we focus on creating meaningful learning outcomes through considered instructional design. We have a mix of traditional e-learning, hands-on practice, instructor-led training, and executive coaching. Our learning content spans three key domains: technology and development, leadership and business (e.g. power skills), and compliance.

Having a creative approach to training can make a significant difference in engaging employees and making them more proficient in various skills areas.

What are the major shortfalls in regard to skills gaps within the channel and how can companies look to address this?
With digital transformation creating a whole host of new and emerging digital roles, we have seen a renewed focus from businesses on upskilling and reskilling – both for current employees and new hires. Organisations should provide opportunities for employees to move laterally within their organisation into parts of the business where new skills are needed most urgently, such as cyber security, machine learning and advanced analytics.

Assessing the digital transformation requirements of the enterprise should help to direct investment priorities for training and development. Addressing and easing workplace role transitions will require new training models and approaches that include on-the-job training and opportunities that support and signpost workers to opportunities to upgrade their skills. Similarly, investing in digital talent platforms that foster fluidity, by matching workers and their skills with new work opportunities within the enterprise will be key.

Can you tell us the benefits of transformative learning?
Skills are the new currency in the modern workforce. They have the power to drive growth- both for the organisation and the individual. But there’s a difference between simply learning a skill and mastering it. As learners pursue new skillsets, they seek to build something larger than just one individual skill, they seek to build marketable competency. And building competency at scale is what all organisations aim to do in the spirit of creating value.

Today’s employees seek highly relevant, outcome-oriented learning experiences that fuel durable skills mastery and foster innovation. As the skills gap widens and organisations increasingly find the need to reskill both their technical workforces and their business leaders, there is an immense need for a more flexible and immersive learning experience with a blend of instructional methods that can be scaled across the organisation.

What are Skillsoft’s Career Journeys currently available with?
Skillsoft Career Journeys is the newest learning offering within the Percipio platform. They feature on-demand, self-study video courses, hands-on practice labs, live coaching and cohort-based training, as well as access to thousands of digital books and audiobooks. There is also access to dozens of industry certifications and exam vouchers to achieve certification. In short, it’s everything the organisation needs to achieve transformation at scale and everything the individual needs to grow in their career.

What role does IT and the channel have to play in helping reduce the skills gap across the industry?
Workplace learning is no longer focused on cataloguing the breadth and depth of content but about upskilling and reskilling – taking the workforce from where they are now to where they need to be. We have increasingly seen organisations align their learning and development (L&D) strategy with the strategic direction of the organisation in order to steer towards future business goals.

In the fast-paced and disruptive technology industry, preparing for the skills of the future must be a strategic priority in 2022. Recent research indicates that 38% of IT leaders believe their existing skills development programmes are being outpaced by the rate of technology change, contributing to the growing skills gap. Training people for the jobs of tomorrow means aligning skills development with business needs – and considering what those needs will be in 10, 20, or 50 years.

Ultimately, today’s workforce needs blended learning, targeted structures and relevant learning journeys that develop agile employees equipped to develop at pace. Whether it’s critical thinking, digital literacy or adopting new leadership styles and strategies, people are increasingly looking for transferable learning skills that are accessible to all and will support them as the workplace continues to transform.

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