Be part of the future - reskilling for the digital age

People must be at the heart of any organisation's efforts to reskill their workforce as they seek to remain relevant in a more digital age. Moreover, learning must be tailored to the individual, with a culture of collaboration and sharing helping to set the right tone across an enterprise - a tone that must be set and maintained at the very top of the organisation.

These were some of the main conclusions of an Insuretech Connect Asia webinar. The panel's host Hugh Terry, founder of the Digital Insurer, noted that it was significant that participant Stephen Barnham, CIO of Metlife Asia, had emphasised the human factor as being such an important element.

With a nod to the challenges presented by the global pandemic and shift to home working, Barnham said that in uncertain times it was important to keep people at the centre of reskilling and learning. "Communication and collaboration has never been more critical in a more digital world," he said.

The reskilling strategy at MetLife is focused around three elements, he explained: Human, tech and industry. With digitisation initiatives accelerating at an ever-faster pace, he acknowledged that a key aspect was not just how the organisation goes about automating its processes, but how it brings the whole enterprise with it, democratising the process.

Benchmarking against insurance industry peers is also important, building relationships with start-ups and insurtechs and being willing to try new things and even fail are all essential to keeping up with Industry 4.0.

"Even when you're a 153-year-old life insurer you have to keep up and have an external orientation to ensure you are continuously improving," said Barnham.

Digital immigrants v digital natives

When tailoring digital learning to the individual it can be useful to split people into two different camps, explained Rashmi Sharma, head of people and capability building at GovTech Singapore.

Digital Immigrants are those who were brought up before the digital revolution and digital natives are the younger generation of millennials who were born into an internet-ready world. There is a broad spectrum of abilities and comfort levels when it comes to digital immigrants, she explained. Organisations can benefit from having a range of learning options available and even 'reverse mentoring'.

"We have seen that learning is more effective when it is tied to purpose and delivered using social media or tools and apps that are popular with the digital natives. Also, that more interactive learning works better with the ability to contribute, ask and learn from each other," said Sharma.

"We can leverage digital natives to mentor or reverse mentor other employees, to drive innovation and provide advisory to people who may be more experienced, but may need more help with the digital side of the business," she added.

The reality of reskilling within a large organisation is that it has to be a multi-pronged approach, involving different incentives for different individuals and ensuring training remains fun and digestible.

Sara Roberts, founder of Kettlewell Consulting, shared an example of some of the work her firm has been doing with a large multinational financial services organisation. A close alignment between business and people growth strategy had been important, she said, as well as offering multiple platforms and strategies so that "everyone was in the driving seat of their own upskilling journey".

She echoed the fact that top leadership support was essential and that reskilling was an ongoing exercise within the organisation, with new learning constantly being reinforced and personalised to the individual.

Digital learning platforms themselves are improving all the time, added Sharma, offering opportunities around adaptive learning. Choice of tools is therefore another important consideration for organisations seeking to bring their workforce with them as they undergo technological change and development.

As the COVID-crisis has demonstrated for many companies, it has never been more important to put human beings at the centre of the enterprise and its change management goals. Reskilling is no different. "We need to allow people to communicate and learning from each other," said Sharma," to share their successes and challenges, tips and tricks."

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