The “Uberization” of lifelong learning. By Stella Sassi

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The crisis has created, as one of its consequences, the need for an in-depth consideration of the role that lifelong learning plays for companies and its employee, especially for managers.

The premise is that we are faced with an epochal change of scenario in which the way to create value for companies, the managerial models and the skills they need to lead to this transformation are constantly evolving.

Technology and digitalization impose not only the acquisition of “technicality” but a change of approach and thinking that also touches the ways to do business.
In general, digitalization is still perceived as threatening because it is not clear how to exploit its opportunities and real potential.

Innovation is first and foremost an approach, a mentality that contemplates “try & error” and inevitably proceeds through experimentation. It is feasible to share and integrate, thinking in a “we” (versus me) optics even outside the organizational boundaries, knowing how to create ecosystems that include and enhance diversity.

The relationship with the customer is evolving towards a new balance that meets the need for customization and “experience” which are thanks to the possibilities offered by digitalization and technology.

“Traditional” organizational responses are under pressure: logic for processes and work for projects allow for greater efficiency and lower costs and organization charts, mansions, procedures, and so on. They describe less and less how they are created and who creates value in the company.

The pressure on those who have leadership roles is very high: the demand is to move in uncertainty and ambiguity, make decisions quickly and in high-stress situations.
In addition, one of the main functions of leadership is that of integrator: visions, differences, processes, etc.

Obviously, a response to such problems can only be achieved by setting different ways and by constantly listening to and involving all the actors in the system.
It is no longer the time for standardized proposals dropped from above. The crisis of business schools in almost every part of the world also comes from this.

In Italy, we have an additional problem because participation in training initiatives of Italian managers continues to be lower than our colleagues from the rest of Europe. Indeed, if the average of managers participating in training initiatives, both in their company and individually, is 30% across Europe, in Italy it is 18%.

The most advanced countries in this field are England and the Netherlands respectively with 35% and 31%. The countries we generally refer to however overcame us of at least 4 points.

There is still a long way to go. First of all, it is crucial that this awareness grows not only between managers but also in companies. Major training activities will be more and more on not just basic skills but also on new needed skills, delivered through a mix of complementary delivery ways (seminars, workshop, speech, …) and blended (virtual workshops, webinars, training pills, etc.) on demand, available on multiple devices.

Speaking of soft skills, “physical presence” will still be a key tool, which is increasingly becoming a moment of exchange of experience, co-creation and networking. In other contexts, conversely, it is possible to speak of possible “uberisation” of training.

Learning costs and technology platforms allow a different approach for economies of scale and engagement. Following the evolution of what is happening with MOOC in universities in many parts of the world, it is very likely that future millennials and companies will have different tools and contents available.

Personally, I believe that today, it is necessary to work to grow awareness that lifelong learning, from the end of school to retirement is a duty that determines professional growth, continuous adaptation of one’s own technical and personal skills and thus greater employability. The delivery methods, therefore, can also change if they are fit for the purpose.

Who provides adult training has the duty to experiment new proposals and new methodologies. Lifelong learning is a “duty” that we owe to ourselves and it is the key to face the new challenges posed by a completely new economic and social environment.

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