Upskilling is the Future of Education

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In this video we’re going to explain why we aren't adapting rapidly enough to the current rate of change how this is actually an opportunity for you, your family and your company, rather than a threat. 

And we'll finish off with some simple tactics, solutions and projects that companies and individuals are using to address this problem.  

The Skills Gap

We see this daily, an overwhelming majority of people and companies are still way behind their real potential, what we call their technological potential. 

And why this gap? 

Well, simply put, current skills acquisition paths, higher education, self-learning and on the job learning are individually very rarely adapted to the new pace of change.

To add to this skills that you have are decaying more rapidly than they ever have before. 

What you learn a year ago might not only have evolved, it might actually not even be relevant at all. 

Devices that people use are always shifting, our understanding of the brain gets monthly breakthroughs, channels to attract customers to your product decay. 

Over time, machine learning platforms and languages gain and lose popularity, new tooling is constantly available. 

So where do you start? How do you keep up? 

It's really difficult.

‍How Traditional Education is Failing Skills

And what's the solution to keep up: higher education, self-learning online, on the job training.

Now I want to run through these, one by one, and show you why individually they're just not enough anymore. 

Higher Education and the Skills Gap 

Higher Education just can't keep up, at least not the way it's being done at the moment. 

Although they're making an effort to adapt, universities tend to be extremely slow. Many take two to three years to update the curriculum. Researchers also agree that what's taught in universities is rarely applicable to the professional world. 

I mean, think about it, economics courses are making you carry out math proofs. Why would you need to do so many math proofs?

Marketing courses teach you to have a romantic version of what marketing used to look like, which is completely disengaged from reality. 

And the argument that universities allow you to develop some sort of critical thinking has actually been debunked, and it's quite wrong. Most of the time, you're just repeating what you've learned. 

Clay Christiansen even predicts that half of the universities within the USA will be bankrupt within 10 to 15 years. 

Now, we’re not saying you shouldn't go to university or you shouldn't go to college, you actually should, from an economic point of view. 

Because apart from a very small number of exceptions that are sort of trendsetters like Google, IBM, Apple, us here at Growth Tribe, the majority of employers still regard college or university degrees as a must-have. 

So higher education does make sense financially, but it won't fix your growing skills gap. 

Online Self-Learning and the Skills Gap

So what is the solution? It's online self-learning, right? 

Well, it's actually not that easy. 

There's too much choice and not enough self-control. 

How many online courses have you actually signed up to? Two, five, ten, a hundred? How many have you actually completed? 

If it's many, then you're actually an exception as massive online courses have an average completion rate of anywhere between five to twenty per cent. And that's really low. 

Where do you find them? Was that actually what you should be learning? Which of the hundred that you signed up to is actually the most important to start learning right now? 

As Seth Godin puts it, the internet is the greatest self-teaching resource ever developed, but few take advantage of it because it doesn't come with a motor.

Lack of tests, curation, limited certificates, and essentially, there's no cruise control. And even though courses tend to be free or cheap, that actually has the adverse effect of audit ones to achieve. 

The more you sign up to the less you'll end up actually completing. What to start with? What's the right order? And while I'm doing this course, I get FOMO. Is that other course actually more important to be doing right now? 

Put very simply, online courses lack curation. Where do you start? What do you include in your menu? What's essential for you? Just do a quick search on Udacity. There's an endless list to choose from. 

As much as we love online courses, they're not the perfect solution. 

On the Job Learning and the Skills Gap

So what is the perfect solution? Is it on the job learning? Learning while you work? 

Learning by doing is probably the most effective way to learn. You don't become a Kung Fu master by watching Bruce Lee movies, you actually have to practice. 

However, there is a catch. 

It's actually not that simple to get the right job where you're going to learn the right skills.

Research from the European Commission has highlighted an impossible situation where if you don't already have the skill, you won't get the job that allows you to learn this skill. 

And once you acquire that position, you also need to be a little bit lucky to enter a company that has the skills internally. Where people are willing to train newbie in an environment,  where your day to day tasks also leave time for training. 

Blockchain developers, innovation experts, junior data scientists, junior marketers need to have a chance of working for a company already implementing these skills at a high level.

Not only that but the larger the organisation the more specialised everyone will be, leaving less and less room for you to wear multiple hats and try yourself at different skills. 

Now the greatest companies allow their employees to evolve through a horizontal set of tasks. These opportunities are actually still very rare. They tend to be limited to larger organisations that have adopted a multidisciplinary based approach, or to startups and scaleups where you have to wear many hats. 

We actually believe small, medium and large organisations should be the first ones to tackle this issue. 

So we’re actually purposely not going to go into the details of how we think primary, secondary and university education should be changed. There are smarter people out there working on this where tests are currently running. 

Have a look at project-based learning in Finland, for example. What Wonder School is doing in the USA, or what Cartesea School is doing in Amsterdam. 

Upskilling is the Future of Education

We will, however, address the elephant in the room. 

Now, SMEs and corporates employed millions of people, a large majority of whom receive their skills and education training at a different time, hiring large armies of new talent for them is simply not a solution. 

It's too slow, it's too expensive, and in most cases, the company just isn't attractive enough to, as they say, “hire only the best”. 

Unfortunately in many cases, the best just don't want to work for you. 

A recent survey shows that 39% of large company executives said they were either barely able or unable to find the talent their firms required. And not just developers. 

The only viable solution is to retrain current employees while scaling a culture of necessary lifelong learning. 

Not far from being a simple HR issue. This huge talent overhaul has enormous implications. 

So what's the good news? Where's the opportunity? And what are some companies and people doing to address this? 

The Optimal Approach for Upskilling

The optimal solution is actually really simple to design on paper and we're actually carrying it out at Growth Tribe. 

It’s a balanced mix of curated, guided education, horizontal job experience, and online self-learning. 

Solutions that mix some of these are starting to pop up. 

LinkedIn has launched an internal AI Academy to help employees across the company understand how to incorporate artificial intelligence into their everyday work. This Academy also includes training on how to approach AI ethically.  

Skyscanner has launched an internal Growth Hacking Ninja certification programme to upskill its marketers and engineers. It's a course that's been developed in-house by subject matter experts across thirty-two different topics regarding marketing, programming and data analysis to build an army of what we call T-Shaped players. 

And more legacy organisations like AT&T have spent up to $250 million on employee training and personal development programmes, not to forget $30 million on tuition assistance annually. The impact is very simple to measure from January to May 2016 trained employees filled 50% of all Technology Management jobs at AT&T, and those same people received 47% of internal promotions. 

Let's look at who allow anyone in the company to have unlimited access to Udemy, Linda, Blinkist, Globe Smart, Coursera, EdX and OpenLearn. 

Airbnb is running its own internal university to teach data science. They work with leaders across the company to set data literacy expectations, and they found ways to measure the success of this internal academy.

And look at us at Growth Tribe. We launched a Growth in AI six month traineeship where companies can hire fresh talent or bring in their own talent and where we give them a mix of curated online learning, in-person teaching and coaching, and on the job projects. 

Placing students into tech companies so that they can learn on the job. 

Fast-growing companies at the forefront, like Student Hotel or Hello Print, are joining this programme because they understand that adding these toolsets to the brains of their people will help them to grow faster than the competition. 

We've also started building internal academies for companies so that they can internalise the skills training. 

So now reflect on yourself. 

Is this notion of internal skills learning at the board of your company right now? 

Have you adopted this growth mindset of lifelong learning? 

What is your company doing? 

What are your training budgets? 

And essentially what should you be learning next?