This feature article was provided by Karina Ward, Marketing Communications Manager at NETg.
Picture the scene. It’s 2020 and Corporate X is celebrating its growth from being an also-ran just five years ago, to being the multinational gorilla it is today. The CEO begins his ‘thank you’ speech to his employees: “We’re the leaders in our space because we have been able to train and develop the best people. And I’d like to give a special mention to Sonic the Hedgehog, Lara Croft and the Super Mario Brothers for helping us to do that.”
An impossible scenario? Maybe not. Our childhood memories may consist of playing pooh sticks and reading The Famous Five, but for many of today’s younger generation, computer games take up their free time. And while there’s a body of opinion that sees the phenomenon of ‘gaming’ as a behavioural and social ill, the HR professionals that read TrainingZone should see it as one of the high-profile strands of something more positive. The argument, in a nutshell, is that by developing an aptitude for computer technology before entering the workplace, the professionals of tomorrow will get far more value from the technology-based training that they will go on to receive.
I should add though, that this contention is based on more than just the likes of Nintendo and Sony. The high-flyers of the future will be better technology all-rounders because, whereas today’s workforce adapted to the technology revolution (in its endless number of guises), tomorrow’s workforce will have known nothing else.
Our schools are a great example of this. The focus on what is known in the educational sector as ICT (Information Communication Technology) is increasing steadily. At a recent roundtable debate on ICT in education, organised by NETg, the three driving forces behind this were identified. The combination of government funds being made available for investing in ICT, more and more input from private learning vendors, and a less reactionary teaching community than ever before means that the last decade has seen a small revolution in Britain’s classrooms. ICT has moved from being plain old IT (ie the low-level teaching of basic desktop skills) to a dynamic, interactive tool that sits alongside traditional teaching methods for every conceivable subject.
Moving outside the school environment, the list of technologies that children have been brought up with goes on and on, from mobile phones, to MP3s, to Internet cafes, to laptops. So whether at home or at school, with friends or with family, technology is a thread that runs through everything they do. And thank goodness – especially for HR and training departments – that it does. A workforce with a better grasp of technology means two things. Firstly, training programmes can be based more around the kinds of business and emerging technology skills that will help your organisation get ahead, and less around basic IT and desktop skills. Secondly, the e-Learning that forms an important part of your training delivery will be as effective as it can possibly be because users will be completely at ease with the concept of learning in front of a monitor, rather than just in front of a teacher.
Overall there’s good reason for training professionals to feel optimistic about the coming years. But they must consider that having employees who are computer savvy doesn’t necessarily mean that e-Learning should be the only medium used to train them. In the modern economy, training has risen from being the ‘we’ll offer it when we can’ preserve of the HR department to being a key strategic, board-level concern. We all know that people are our most important asset, just as we understand that highly skilled, adaptable teams create competitive advantage. But to help them reach their potential, they need to receive training that focuses both on the different learning styles of each individual and on meeting the business goals of the organisation. That means prescribing a personalised ‘blend’ of learning that embraces all methods of delivery (including e-Learning, instructor-led training materials, and mentoring) for any type of skill.
So, next time you’re about to get annoyed because your children are indoors playing Tomb Raider or Sonic, (instead of persuading them outdoors to get some “healthy fresh air”) maybe you should just leave them to it!