“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." It was Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States of America, who said this—250 years ago—hitting the nail on the head in terms of the solution to the current problem. An investment in our employees’ education pays dividends in the end for both employee and employer alike.
Rethinking training: As a Service.
Managed Training Services or Training as a Service (TaaS) supplies comprehensive answers to the current market situation. Similarly to Software as a Service (SaaS) or Platform as a Service (PaaS), TaaS is a new way to provision training and courses for employees. As with all services, internal tasks in connection with employee training and onboarding are outsourced to external service providers.
As a rule, employers generally take out a subscription for this and then provide their employees with access to the learning content. Depending on the providers, the service can be charged on a monthly, six monthly, or annual basis. There are also individual models for which the costs are invoiced per training course or participant. It’s not surprising that the content of these platforms revolves largely around digital topics. Employees can master everything from programming languages to how to use standard software. Some providers even offer special courses for industry-specific applications. Theoretically, the possibilities in traditional areas can also be endless.
The key: Pre-prepared training units can be used 24/7, fitting around other commitments, and can be repeated as many times as needed. In most price models, the courses can be made available for multiple employees. The use of tablets, smartphones and laptops makes taking the courses easy, even on the road. Stays in training institutions and field trips to attend courses become things of the past, meaning that companies can better use their training budget to benefit their employees. Most providers include a quiz to test what’s been learned and the individual’s progress. After a conciliatory test, participants usually receive a certification of participation.
Even government approved qualifications are available.
One special offering is training courses with the end goal of achieving state approved qualifications. They often consist of an interactive part that can be split up into chunks of time to suit the user and an in-person element that generally takes place in the local Chambers of Trade or Chambers of Industry and Commerce. The exam is held at a recognised exam centre. In this way, it’s possible to acquire career-furthering qualifications alongside the responsibilities of a job, allowing companies in Germany to combat the growing lack of skilled workers using their own ranks. The positive effect of training is shown in many studies, which indicate that a closer connection is established between the employees and their employer as a result.
Vendors often take the opportunity to offer their own training portals.
The diversity of existing industry software makes it difficult for training providers to support the complete range. Many well-known software vendors have therefore migrated to publishing learning content in parallel to releasing the software itself, that indicates the new features the latest version will offer. Updating of user training usually happens within a few days. Vendors are at the cutting edge here: It has been proved that multi-sensory learning is more effective than learning exclusively from textbooks. Supplying the customer with audio visual training material relating to their applications therefore helps them to get to grips with the software more quickly and ideally to be more receptive and positive towards the software.
But it’s not just the customer who is the target audience for vendor training products. Both installation, maintenance, and support staff can be provided with the knowledge required and then help the customer in turn. Even then, the knowledge chain has not yet reached its end. Some vendors go the extra step, using the training as another way to get closer to customers. With live interactive courses on detailed topics, users can have direct influence on course content. Participants subsequently receive access to the lessons as well as further content. A win-win situation: The customer has their questions answered straight from the source, while at the same time, the operator gets to know their customers’ requirements better and can therefore react early on to market changes.
Customer-oriented right down to the details.
In addition, as well as the use of the training material being flexible, it can also be individually tailored to suit the needs of the enterprise and their employees. Whether this is because training is only required in certain areas, or because a customer should only be given access to the training for products they have purchased, customisation is virtually limitless, depending on the provider and investment made.
In some cases, it can be very significant for companies to offer training directly to employees and customers. Offering the customer an application linked to a product is just one of many examples. Employees also benefit from companies’ own software as it means it can be used holistically and with accompanying training material. Sometimes, internal Sales information needs to remain confidential while employees can still be trained in its processes comprehensively and wherever they are. Custom-produced videos train employees in the skills they need for their everyday work and show customers how to best use the product.
Easily introduce key and recommended courses.
Data protection and data security are particularly important for many industries. Training in these areas aims at raising awareness among employees—they are, however, often compulsory in order to comply with government regulations. Regular participation also has to be documented accordingly for accountability. Bechtle addresses these requirements in the areas of data protection and data security with the E-Sensecurity tool.
This e-learning tool lets every department and employee get informed about data protection. And right from the desk. The interesting part is that it can simply be integrated into the existing intranet. Employees can access the course including videos, images, and text to help raise awareness of the issue and encourage correct handling of data. Users are connected with the course content and experience a new, sustainable version of training. The tool is kept up-to-date with many additions and can also be expanded with more learning content.
German enterprises are still doing well. For now.
Looking at the current situation, it quickly becomes clear, however, why larger budgets and more time for training employees is crucial for the future. In comparison with other 118 other countries, Germany is still looking good. According to Cisco and Gartner, Germany is at the top in terms of training, holding a healthy sixth place in the list. It is therefore surprising that Germans themselves see this rather differently. More than two thirds of the population are of the opinion that Germany would rank in the bottom third or even lower. This lack of self-belief taken together with the shortage of skilled workforce could be enough, in the mid to long term, to halt progress in digitalisation. The discrepancy is, at any rate, visible across all industries, also affecting the public sector.
82,000 public positions for IT-related specialists and management.
This enormous number is the result of a survey by the industry association Bitkom of IT management. It’s topicality becomes even clearer, when taken in conjunction with developments since 2017, at which time 55,000 positions were vacant. That adds up to an increase of 40%.
There are many reasons for this:
- Technical development and its constantly changing requirements in terms of skills and knowledge confront employees with wide-reaching problems on a daily basis.
- Demographic development is resulting in many positions are becoming vacant due to retirement.
- The increasing automation of simple tasks replaces less skilled jobs with highly skilled ones. Monitoring machines and manufacturing processes requires a different skill set to those lost to AI.
- The order situation of enterprises in recent years has been very good in many areas and has naturally boosted demand for labour.
These are just some of the factors that can lead companies into extremely unpleasant situations. They have to recruit the right candidates from a pool of potential applicants that seems to be getting ever smaller, ones that have the right skills and are adaptable enough to adjust to new challenges in the future.
Train employees up instead of getting new ones.
Consistent professional education—especially training in digital skills—enables employees to lead your company to success, even in times of quick change. This is a solution that has enormous potential. And it’s the same case for a large proportion of German SMEs. Because 43% of companies have a strategy for transferring digital skills. More than 80% of decision-makers asked by Bitcom and VdTÜV confirm that this topic is either “very important” (60.3 %) or at least “quite important” (20.7 %).
Offering employees training options has many benefits:
- Developing employee skills in new areas saves looking for new staff.
- Years of experience remains within your company.
- Employee motivation is boosted.
- Employees become more productive.
- Employee innovation capacity is boosted.
- Employer becomes more attractive.
The question of financing is often unclear.
One thing is clear: training doesn’t come for free. Consequently, 54% of enterprises asked by Bitkom and VdTÜV said they wanted to increase their investment in employee training in 2019. However, as much as 22% said they already provide a fixed training offering for their employees. 709 euros per head is the average annual budget allocated to digital training.
Once the question of budget had been sorted, it often falls down at the limited time employees have to do training in. Not even half—41% to be exact—of enterprises give their employees the freedom needed to take advantage of training measures. Is this tentative behaviour enough today to keep up with the rapid pace and pressure of digitalisation?
The multitude of technology topics already existing and yet to come along with the extensive knowledge gaps in companies is enough to throw serious doubt onto this. Solarwinds’ software developers published a global study in which they analysed and presented interesting results on the knowledge status of IT specialists: Infrastructure management, Hybrid IT and clouds and Security Management are topics that IT experts have been intensively examining over recent months. Knowledge development and further training can thus be oriented towards what the industry itself sees as the next steps in the digital transformation. It is interesting in this context, however, that despite further training, IT specialists are still unsure whether they will be able to handle future challenges. According to the study, 70% of the experts asked were not fully convinced that they possessed sufficient skills to master the tasks of the coming ten years. In contrast to traditional training, for example, after a software update or large advances in technology, modern offerings needs to constantly keep pace in line with careers.
These critical self-assessments seem justified, if one thinks that even IT experts and employees in IT enterprises are blighted by limited time to make use of training resources. In addition to time, in many enterprises, as mentioned earlier, are unsure how to finance it. But even if these two main hurdles can be overcome, there are many other factors that currently play a role in Germany.
- The quality of training offered cannot be evaluated (27%).
- Training offered does not fulfil company requirements (26%).
- Employee is essential to operations (26%).
- It costs too much (24%).
- There is no general overview of training available (23%).
- The training is held at a location too far away (16%).
Overcoming all of these hurdles is only achieved in a minority of cases. But if companies want to offer as broad professional further training as possible, it will quickly become clear that they will have to rethink their training concepts.
Easy, uncomplicated, any time: Training as a Service.
Modern challenges need modern solutions. Digitalisation, lack of skilled workforce, and demographic change belong to the challenges of the 21st century. Training as a Service, also known as Managed Training Services, can be one of the solutions for the economy—developing existing talent into the skilled workers and experts required. The demand is there and the benefits are plain to see.
According to the World Economics Forum, employers in Western Europe estimate that 54 per cent of their workforce will need significant further training or education by 2022. The pressure to provide internal training and education is mounting. In order to master the extra work required, new paths have to be explored here too, which bring multiple positive effects for the entire enterprise. Happy employees identify more with their company, are more productive, and transmit a positive corporate message about the employer’s attractiveness.
The opportunities and possibilities of new training solutions are huge. New technologies meet new learning and lesson concepts and form the basis for companies’ sustainable future success. Take your employees into the future with you. Give them more skills and knowledge, and build on existing ones. Recent years have proved the American economist Peter F. Drucker right: “The only skill that will be important in the 21st century is the skill of learning new skills. Everything else will become obsolete over time.”