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October 17, 2019

Soft Skills Dictate the Capabilities of Professional Development Services – Part 1

MHT Partners  | Education Investment Bank

In a world where digitalization has become the standard, there is an unwavering consumer demand for new, innovative, personalized content. Since change in consumer demand is the only constant, digital transformation has become imperative for all businesses in order to remain competitive. Digital transformation means more than delivering and embracing new technology; it encompasses change in thought and organizational culture. It often requires restructuring of business models in a way that proactively seeks to understand customers while innovating ways to captivate changing needs. Today, it is apparent that the most effective way to meet the digital demand is through digital talent. However, instead of creating new job titles, most companies prefer to retain quality, tenured employees while modifying the required skills of their current job positions. In order to do so, companies must continue to nurture the skill sets of both existing and newly acquired talent through professional development services, creating a culture of lifelong learning.

As digitalization evolves and corporations become more data driven, one would think technical skills surpass soft skills, but this is not the case. A research report conducted by Infosys, a global leader in next-generation digital services and consulting, suggests that the soft skills emphasizing collaboration rank higher than individual skills and are just as important as technical prowess. In addition, the study concludes that undervaluing learnability is the “biggest tangible barrier to reskilling the workforce.” [1] This underestimation impedes the activation of a lifelong learning culture, which is required to captivate the rapidly progressing consumer demand. It also decelerates the digital transformation process – a key to profitability and competitive advantage today.

Corporations across various industries are demanding skillsets that complement their digital initiatives and projects. Infosys’s research [1] reveals that:

 

Going forward, it will be critical not to overlook how essential these innate skills are for both design thinking and continuous personal and technical development.  Both traits are required for today’s talent to understand and keep pace with new technologies and consumer demands.

It is safe to say that the skills companies need most vary by industry and the types of digital initiatives they pursue. However, learnability is one that is needed across all industries, especially ones that require a profound understanding of the consumer in order to offer new, personalized digital experiences. For instance, the education sector must cater to the needs of its consumers, the students, whose abilities to learn in the traditional way has changed with increasing technology. In response, this industry has become increasingly more tech-enabled to tailor the learning experience for each individual. The education technology space has seen  $962 million raised over 65 deals in the first half of 2019 compared to $750 million across 62 deals in the first six months of 2018. [2] In the K-12 Professional Development market alone, there is a predicted $3.2 billion to be generated in net sales by 2021 [3] and this figure continues to grow as investors recognize the necessity of this market with such advancing technology and consumer demand. This goes to show how crucial learnability is. If educators and teachers are still seeking new ways to positively impact their students, then all professionals and corporations should feel the same way toward their respective end markets and customers. More importantly, it should be reflected in their office cultures and their hiring strategies.

In a society where consumer demands are growing with new technological advances, corporations must continue to educate and revitalize the skills of their professionals. However, the biggest intangible barrier that limits the tremendous potential of reskilling as a competitive advantage, is undervaluing learnability. Technical prowess is stagnant without indulging them with soft skills. And – it is up to corporations to seek employees with this skill set while cultivating culture of lifelong learning. This is the only way to reap full benefits of the booming professional development market and captivate the continuously changing consumer demand. The next question is… What necessary steps need to be taken to effectively do this?  Stay tuned for MHT Partners, a leading education investment bank, next “Learning Curves” blog for part 2.

[1] https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/need-reskilling-and-non-traditional-talent-nurturing-in-a-culture-of-lifelong-learning–finds-new-global-research-from-infosys-300916708.html
[2] https://www.edsurge.com/news/2019-08-07-us-edtech-funding-already-nears-1-billion-in-first-half-of-2019
[3] https://marketbrief.edweek.org/marketplace-k-12/investment-opportunity-strong-bit-risky-k-12-education-report-says/

 

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