Employers’ top training priority for 2018? Soft skills

The 2018 Workplace Learning Report by LinkedIn details how employers are feeling the crush of skill gaps across all industries, and how they’re responding by creating learning opportunities to guide staff and their organizations to thrive in tomorrow’s labor market. The top priorities they’ve identified are likely those your company is experiencing as well. LinkedIn has identified six learning priorities for 2018:

How to train for soft skills
Identifying trends to prevent future skill gaps
Understanding the impact of technology
Consistent global training
Deliver insights on internal skill gaps
How to track skill development

The survey tallied results from 1,200 talent developers, 2,200 employees, 400 people managers and 200 executives. Among all groups the top priority for talent development in 2018 was training for soft skills. HR Dive spoke with Tanya Staples, VP, learning content and Kevin Simon, head of product, both of LinkedIn Learning Solutions, to discuss the report and its implications for business and L&D professionals.
Soft skills the top priority

Staples discusses the priority of soft skills for future learning initiatives: “In the age of automation, maintaining technical fluency across roles will be critical, but the pace of change is fueling demand for adaptable, critical thinkers, communicators, and leaders.” When it comes to programming to train for these competencies, LinkedIn recommends, “learning pathways, or groups of courses, that build upon each other so that at time of completion, employees have a well-roundedness about their soft skills abilities and have gained an appreciation for continuous learning.”

With the limited life of hard skills, soft skills are taking priority. The software and apps in use today will likely soon be replaced and the procedures and strategies that are currently cutting edge may soon occupy a dusty shelf. But soft skills remain a constant throughout an employee’s career. And for business, the need to have soft skills will always be present. What are employers looking for and looking to train for?

Leadership skills are in high demand. The ability to manage a task or project independently, without supervision and with self-motivation are hallmarks of a leader. They don’t need external prompting, they prompt themselves and others. They are problem solvers that look for alternative routes that get the job done faster, better, smarter. They inspire others, not only to do their own tasks but to come along on the ride to success. They are the go-to person others rely on for assistance, coaching and motivation. No company can survive without them.

Some believe leaders are born, but research suggests leadership qualities can be learned. Modeling leader behaviors of leaders, building confidence in one’s aptitude and supporting the ability to oversee and motivate others are traits that can be taught. The challenge for most businesses is to find those who are interested and motivated to learn. Not everyone will want the responsibility — but for those who do, the rewards can be significant.

In the era of smartphones, many believe we’ve lost the ability to communicate directly. Are millennials, in particular, so digitally dependent they cannot communicate one on one? Managers point to lack of eye contact and the inability to accept criticism as skills that are lacking. But just as we teach other competencies, communication — written and verbal — can be learned. With targeted training and mentoring, a business can develop or polish the communication skills employees need to work effectively.

Working with others is a must for the majority of employees. For a business, strong, collaborative teams innovate, produce and thrive. Lack of collaboration can put the brakes on even the simplest task, grinding productivity to a halt. The skill set required to collaborate effectively is built on trust: allowing employees to work cohesively without the sense of one-upmanship is only the beginning. Communication and listening skills are required to proffer ideas and opinions clearly as well as to actively hear those of one’s colleagues. Again, once an environment of trust is established, collaboration skills can be taught.

Other areas identified in the study point to learning opportunities for 2018 and beyond that business should focus on.
Identifying trends to prevent skills gaps

Another area prioritized by respondents is the ability to assess today’s skills and business trends against future needs. Essentially, training for jobs that don’t exist today. Staples advises, “In order to stay ahead of a constantly changing pace, we must have a keen eye on trends and a strong influence on business partners to ensure that we provide skill development opportunities that keep businesses growing.” Surveys, managerial observations and employee assessments are only a few ways to identify and take action on skills gaps.

Simon advises, “We’re also investing more in intelligence, with new analytics experience for admins to understand learning activity within their organization, and we’re working on ways to help them identify where skills gaps exist, and what actions they can take to close them.”
Understanding the impact of technology

Simon tells HR Dive it’s important to leverage technology to develop learning strategies. “Armed with technology and analytics, HR professionals are able to serve a wide range of personal learning experiences and iterate when company needs or career paths change.”

At LinkedIn, in addition to long-form content, they began to add short-form content recommendations, personalized to the learner and bite-sized for quick daily learning. Data suggests employees who access this type of just-in-time learning are more likely to retain the information presented if they’re applying it directly to a task being performed.
Consistent global training

As the workforce goes global, so does the need for training — across time zones and even cultural norms. For employers, consistency is key no matter if individuals are remote workers, who are becoming the new normal, or office-bound staffers. The ability to use technology to provide the same training throughout the organization, wherever it reaches, is critical to maintaining performance and corporate culture.
Deliver insights on internal skills gaps

Staples says, “Industry experts and organizational partners call on talent developers to focus on strategic workforce planning — to turn outward to skills trends to inform their decisions on internal strategy.” To do this, she offers, “Talent developers should look to external partners and technology solutions to help them identify these trends and implement programs to proactively address skill gaps.”
How to track skill development

While measuring the impact of training and development programs is not an exact science, Staples says that measuring team metrics and retention rates are a great start. She suggests looking at team metrics before and after training to identify where changes occur. And she recommends watching retention rates at the start of a new program and intermittently throughout the training process. It’s a good practice to check for an increase in retention or decrease in turnover.

For businesses, the need to upskill and right-skill employees has never been more important, but training must be relevant to be impactful. Simon tells HR Dive, “Our research indicates that learning and career development is at the core of the employee experience and personalization is critical to engaging a multi-generational workforce with varied learning needs.


World Youth Skills Day: Promoting Education and Training Towards a Sustainable Future

UN Climate Change News, 13 July 2018 – To spread awareness about the importance of youth skills development, young people across the globe are celebrating the World Youth Skills Day (#WYSD2018) on Sunday, July 15. Designated by the United Nations General Assembly, the day is celebrated every year to call for increased prospects for youth to gain access to quality training and skills development.

Since young people are the drivers of a sustainable future, reaching out to youth is increasingly important for the United Nations and many other organizations that rely on the creativity and dynamism of young people to fill international agreements such as the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the Global Goals with life.

Earlier this year, UN’s top climate change official, Patricia Espinosa, called on the world’s youth to be more proactive in protecting their future by taking climate action and standing up for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, above all at community level.

“What we need right now – in this moment – are the ideas, innovation and energy that bring solutions to all countries, all markets and all people around the world. Young people want to be involved in the process, and we value that interest,” she said.

Climate change is both an enormous challenge and an incredible opportunity for young people. If greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise and climate change impacts continue to worsen, future generations will be forced to shoulder the biggest share of the burden.

Therefore, the empowerment of major groups like young people to take climate action is one of the mandates agreed by governments meeting under the umbrella of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. To this end, an initiative called the Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) operates within the focus of so-called “Article 6” of the Convention that seeks to reduce the impacts of climate change by enabling society to be a part of the solution.

The six priority action areas of ACE – education, training, public access to information, public awareness, public participation and international cooperation – are all guided by specific objectives that, together, are crucial for effectively implementing climate adaptation and mitigation actions, and for achieving the ultimate objective of the Climate Change Convention.

In order to empower youth and public to take climate action, many activities are held under the ACE initiative. This year, for example, a Global Youth Video Competition on Climate Change has been launched where young people can document activities in the fight against climate change in the form of a video.


Quick updates on skill development and Vocational Training

Here are some News Bytes covering various happenings and updates in the industry, government and other stakeholders in the skilling and VET space. This also includes business and job opportunities from government and private organizations. The News Bytes curated and adapted from various sources* with the sole objective of keeping our readers informed about the evolving skills industry in India and how they can be a part of it.

70% youth unaware of PM Modi’s Skill India initiative

According to a survey conducted by the Observer Research Foundation and World Economic Forum (WEF) over 70 percent of the youth in the age group of 15 and 30 are unaware of government-run skill development programs which is a major obstacle to its success.

Mr. A.M. Naik appointed Chairman,National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC)

Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) appointed Mr. A.M. Naik, revered industry veteran as Chairman, National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) on 28th November 2018. Mr. Naik had an illustrious career of 50 years in infrastructure, engineering and construction sectors. As one of the most influential businessman of India, Mr Naik appreciated the work done by NSDC and said “NSDC has developed a unique model combining skill development with strong industry partnerships. I am pleased at this opportunity to contribute towards our common vision of a high skill, high value added economy that offers opportunity to all.”

AWS Cloud-based initiative launched by AP to skill 60,000 students

60,000 students across Andhra’s engineering and non-engineering colleges will be skilled by 2020 as per a MoU signed between the government and Amazon Web Services (AWS), Amazon’s Cloud arm.

India Skills Report says Andhra Pradesh tops in skilled workforce

According to the India Skills Report 2019 – Andhra Pradesh has topped the list of states with the highest employability in India.

skill development VET news

Central Silk Board recognition given to Arunachal skill development centre

The MG Community Skill Development & Training Centre in East Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh has been recognized by the Silk Mark Organization of India sponsored by Central Silk Board (CSB) run under Ministry of Textiles, Government of India.

Bhubaneswar to become skill capital of India

The Odisha government signed MoUs with five industries and organisations to enable various skill development institutes produce job-ready workforce. This was right after the government signed a deal with Singapore government for establishing a world skill centre.

High-end skill development suggested by Anant K Hedge for Sikkim

Union Minister of State Anant K Hegde suggested that Sikkim should focus on high-end skill development and communication and connectivity. He said Sikkim needs to take up advance skills training for further skill development.

Young girls to get technical skills in Haryana

The Haryana government has decided to impart technical skills to young girls to ensure more participation in automotive sector and enhance their employability in addition to making them learn riding skills.

Haryana to have the biggest footwear park at Bahadurgarh

Haryana Chief Minister said that the biggest footwear park of the world would be developed at Bahadurgarh and five acres land would be made available for this footwear park for setting up footwear skill development centre so that local people would get training and made employable

Central team inspects skill development initiatives in Assam’s aspirational district

A team from the Director General Training, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship visited Assam’s aspirational Hailakandi district to oversee the skill development initiatives.They interacted with various line departments like Labour Welfare, DEIC, MSME, Assam Skill Development Mission, NRLM, NULM, tea industry, ITI, etc.

Vow to accelerate development by Jharkhand CM

The Chief Minister of Jharkand has vowed to accelerate the process of development and make the state an example in the country. He called upon everyone to work towards corruption-free, dynastic-free, caste-free and communalism- free state so that citizens get the opportunity to live with dignity.

Urge to speed up skill development training of youth under Himayat scheme

Secretary Rural Development Department & Panchayati Raj has directed the officers to speed up the training of youth enrolled in various Programme Implementing Agencies (PIAs) under ‘Himayat’ programme for providing skill development training and employment to the youth.

ESDM scheme launched by JK government

The Department of Information Technology is launching the Electronic System Design and Maintenance (ESDM) scheme in Jammu and Kashmir to train 5,000 students in the current financial year.

Union Agriculture Minister inaugurates the Skill Development Training Programme on Inland Fisheries Management in West Bengal

The Union Agriculture Minister inaugurated the skill development orientation training programme on “Inland Fisheries Management” for national service volunteers of Nehru Yuva Kendra, West Bengal.  One thousand volunteers will be skill trained on Inland fisheries in this programme.

Motorola and Lenovo come forward to support Skill India mission by the government

Lenovo and Motorola India inaugurated their fifth skill academy in Ghaziabad as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility Program for FY 2019.

‘Neev Abhiyan’ by Ambuja Cements promoting Sustainable Construction

Among Ambuja Cement’s several programs one is the successful ‘Neev Abhiyan’ initiative that imparts formal training to upskill masons and contractors by strengthening their knowledge-base and technical skill-sets through certified training modules and value-added services which promote sustainable construction.

Toyota Kirloskar Motor sets up third Centre of Excellence in Bangalore

To enable in-depth knowledge of engine composition at the grass-root level as well give comprehensive learning opportunities for the students and to offer them a first-hand experience of the vehicle engine TKM provides engine kits – one cut section of the vehicle engine and an assembled engine – to enhance practical knowledge among engineering students.


Pradhan lays foundation stone of skill training centre for women

Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan today laid the foundation stone of the National Skill Training Institute (NSTI) for Women here.

At present, the NSTI operates out of a temporary campus in Rajpura.

The people of Punjab were naturally gifted in skills of various kinds and the state was a leader in many fields, the Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Skill Development and Entrepreneurship said.

“The challenge is to match the skills with the needs of the time and latest economic necessities,” he said, adding that the Mohali centre would be developed into ‘Trainers Training Institute’

It would go a long way in setting the skill standards in the country and creating skilled youth suitable for employment, he added.

Pradhan said the NSTI scheme was planned in 2015 and was being implemented in almost all parts of the country.

The institute would not only be imparting training in traditional fields for women like beauty care, cosmetology and fashion design but also in other areas.

The land for the Mohali NSTI was given by farmers of village Saneta and the cost of the project was Rs 17 crore, the minister said.

Besides, the minister also launched the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendra (PMKK) that would impart education to differently-abled people.

Pradhan said it was the endeavour of the Central government that each district of the country should have a PMKK centre.

At the Mohali PMKK, differently-abled as well as able-bodied people will get access to education, the minister said.

The NSTI and PMKK were launched as part of the ‘Skill India’ campaign under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Pradhan said.


Esports academy brings training, friendly competition to new Edmonton players

Esports Academy Training – The online world of competitive esports can be a cutthroat, toxic and lonely environment.

But a new Edmonton business is aiming to change those attitudes with a social space that offers skills training and a friendlier game environment. Long-time gamer Ayton MacEachern opened Spud Farm Esports Academy in September 2018 in a basement space just off Whyte Avenue. MacEachern’s idea was to provide Esports Academy Training newbies with the same opportunities available to kids in other sports.

“Not every child out there is a football player, or a piano player, or whatever your after-school program is,” MacEachern told CBC Radio’s Edmonton AM on Friday.

Spud Farm, he said, is helping newcomers grow their skills in a positive environment. And for those whose skills are good enough, a lot of opportunities are out there.

Esports is basically defined as games of skill and strategy played online — alone, in pairs or on teams. MacEachern explained that League of Legends is an esports game but Minecraft is not, because people play it in different ways and there isn’t one clear objective or skill to develop.

As an industry, esports has ballooned in recent years, drawing millions of dollars in corporate sponsorships and bringing thousands of fans to packed arenas from Toronto to Vancouver.

In September, a new Esports Academy Training franchise in Toronto announced Chris Overholt, a former longtime head of the Canada Olympic Committee, as its first CEO.
Sportsmanship, good attitude stressed

But that’s the big leagues. For average or new players, the atmosphere can be solitary and ridden with “toxic” smack-talk from other players, said MacEachern.

That negative attitude isn’t allowed at Spud Farm, he said, where tournaments end in a sportsmanlike manner with handshakes and a chorus of “Good game.”

MacEachern said good sportsmanship is part of Spud Farm’s vision of learning how to play.
Thousands of eSports fans filled Toronto’s Air Canada Centre in August 2016 to attend the League of Legends Championship Series Summer Finals. (Ted S. Warren/AP Photo )

“You can get a lot out of sitting down with a teammate and learning strategy and communication. Even just learning lessons about if you’re going to be gaming all day, what kind of diet should you eat? Making sure you’re stretching. Not being toxic,” he said.

Thirteen-year-old Tom Howe is one of Spud Farm’s members. His game of choice is Fortnite, one of 2018’s most popular video games with more 200 million users. Tom plays alone but also as part of a competitive team with a partner.

He said the coaching from Spud Farm has helped him step up his game and learn about teamwork.

“Just like in any other sport, it’s going to help you with the things you struggle on and it’s going to help you with the things you’re good at,” he said.

MacEachern is passionate about gaming — video games have been a way to relieve stress and a way to deal with his ADHD — but cheerfully admits he isn’t very good.

That’s where the name Spud Farm came from, he said.
Tom Howe, left, says the coaching at Ayton MacEachern’s Spud Farm has improved his skills. (Kim Nakrieko/CBC)

“Everyone used to call me Spud because I’m a potato,” he said. “It’s kind of slang for being a really bad shot. But I kind of considered it a mark of honour because they still wanted to play with me, we still had fun. I had a good attitude, even though I’ve never been very good.”

While Spud Farm is the only facility in Edmonton that offers training, MacEachern said, the concept isn’t usual.

In Montreal, a high school has begun offering esports training as a “concentration program,” the equivalent of teen athletes getting time and flexibility in school to pursue elite sporting opportunities.

For MacEachern, the academy at 8225 105th St. is about making competitive gaming open to anyone who wants to try.

“There’s nowhere you can go where, if you want to get better you can get training, or if you just want to try and play and just have fun. And I do believe in-person is a lot more fun.

“Right now my main thing is to do some good in the community, I guess.”

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