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Rob Bright

Cloud Assess

Founder & CEO

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Forgetting the ‘deskless’: Don’t neglect essential skills training

The ongoing skills shortages requires a practical approach to training if we are ever to upskill vocational workers
Woman alone on a road

The ratio of job vacancies to employees in the UK remains at a record high. Bosses are under increasing pressure to attract and onboard new talent quickly, whilst keeping existing employees engaged to prevent further resignations. And, as we know, L&D is vital in helping employers do this effectively.

Embedding strong upskilling strategies in your organisation will accelerate the onboarding of new staff, so they perform more efficiently. Similarly, putting serious investment into employee development will not only demonstrate a business’s commitment to its existing staff’s progression but boost loyalty and reduce staff turnover during a tumultuous time. 

Nailing effective learning

So, how do employers roll out effective training that will have a lasting impact on new and existing staff? Common sense dictates that a practical, and sustained approach is the most effective for long-term learning than one-off exercises that are never revisited. This is backed up by science as a 2013 study into long-term learning strategies shows. It found that the best way to retain information is by spreading out learning and revisiting the material or task several times across multiple sessions.

Many may not even have the IT skills and experience required to operate a complex online training system

Whilst digital tools that offer a purely online and remote approach to training are rising in popularity, it is impossible to recreate this type of sustained, practical learning over a period of time when working in isolation on a computer. As a result, these training schemes risk becoming a tick-box exercise with no real long-term benefits. 

This is particularly relevant for deskless workers, those who perform the majority of their roles away from a desk. This is because their jobs tend to involve practical, hands-on tasks that are best demonstrated and practised in person. 

In addition, these roles tend to be more vocational, so the staff filling them are often more practical-minded, and therefore less likely to respond well to self-led, computer-based learning. This isn’t how they operate in the workplace, and it’s unlikely that they will perform well in these conditions in a training scenario either. Many may not even have the IT skills and experience required to operate a complex online training system. 

What are deskless workers’ learning preferences?

This preference for hands-on learning is confirmed by deskless workers themselves. In fact, in our experience, the vast majority of employees in vocational industries prefer a face-to-face approach. Hybrid training – a mixture of in-person and online training – comes in second, whilst online training in isolation is typically the least popular amongst workers. However, for time-poor L&D professionals, the manual nature of delivering traditional face-to-face training effectively can present a challenge.

How can L&D turn things around?

Opting for a solution that combines the learning advantages of face-to-face training with the efficiency benefits of digital assessment tools provides L&D  with a clear solution to this problem. 

Digital assessments are proven to improve consistency and boost compliance, which has a knock-on effect on productivity

Taking a digital approach to assessments offers a range of business benefits, including reducing the time spent on admin tasks, so that resources can be focused on delivering all-important in-person training. In addition, digital assessments are proven to improve consistency and boost compliance, which has a knock-on effect on productivity and, therefore, a company’s bottom line.

Pacific National, one of Australia’s largest rail freight providers, is a great real-world example of this in action. The team needed a training and assessment solution that could be rolled out to their 3,000-strong team across multiple, often remote locations. The company worked with us to adopt a digital approach to planning, managing, training and assessing skills. The switch meant a huge reduction in manual, paper-based tasks and an increase in efficiency. This freed up the training team whose time was reallocated to valuable business operations tasks. 

Make the learning count

As businesses across the UK fight to counter the growing challenge of staff shortages, a blend of face-to-face learning and digital assessments technology offers L&D professionals the key to building strong, efficient, and loyal teams that will weather the ongoing market uncertainty and emerge thriving. 

Interested in this topic? Read Designing a skills strategy for the modern learner.

Author Profile Picture
Rob Bright

Founder & CEO

Read more from Rob Bright

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