April 14, 2020
Craig McFadyen is the Director of LearningPlanet, a leading training resource library that is a revolution in online learning for businesses in areas of Sales, Service and Leadership.
With his mission to provide ‘affordable learning to the world’, Craig comes with over 20 years of experience in learning & development and has seen the impact made by the three biggest barriers to workforce development, namely time, budget and not having a learning culture.
Craig built LearningPlanet to meet the needs of the training and coaching market and fill the gaps he identified when owning and running classroom training and consulting businesses.
In this quick and insightful interview with Plethora, Craig discusses the need for continuous skilling and what makes microlearning an impactful solution for global businesses.
- The entire world seems to be tackling the skills gap crisis. What are your thoughts on the need for reskilling and upskilling across industries?
The world is changing and the need to constantly upskill and grow are just part of life right now. Previously we could learn a skill or trade and then stay in that role for 40-50 years and retire. That type of thinking is redundant due to the fast paced and changing nature of work, therefore the need to constantly upskill and cross skill means we must keep up with the changes and not get left behind.
- How important is it for businesses to focus on skill development in the digital age, especially soft skills?
In a survey in 2019 by Inc.com it was stated that 57% of managers thought soft skills were more important than hard skills. No matter where we are, we interact with other people and therefore it is key to measure how well we get on with others, be that customers, suppliers or team mates. On the other hand, the lack of soft skills could potentially hinder our progress. It's become vital to develop these skills if you want to progress in your career as they will set you apart from others at the interview and on the job.
- What are the advantages of leveraging ready-to-use learning content in the face of urgent skilling needs?
Leveraging ready to use or off-the-shelf content means you can hit the ground running. With the deployment of rapid eLearning systems across the world it has never been easier for organizations to access and develop their own in-house training. The big drawback is the time, cost and involvement required to develop good material. In our experience, over the last seven years of research, we have discovered that on average an organization takes up to 2.5 years before they get round to developing their soft skills content. This means potentially the staff is being robbed of the chances to learn while the development team focuses on products or processes training content. By accessing off-the-shelf readymade content, you can be training your staff while developing in-house content in tandem.
- What makes Microlearning so effective for businesses and employees alike?
After the GFC – Global Financial Crisis in 2008/9 businesses cut budgets and staff. The employees that were retained were expected to fill the gap left by those not being replaced, and in cases we could see people running up to two or three jobs. The staff still needed to be trained and skilled so alternatives were required. Therefore a faster, easier and cheaper solution was required, as staff simply didn’t have the time for long training courses anymore, while and the organizations didn’t have the budgets. While microlearning may seem like a new learning concept, it’s been around for more than a decade and is based on “micro-teaching” that took place in the 60s. Micro-teaching was first implemented in the education industry as a way to optimize training for new teachers by scaling back on size, time, and content. This laid the groundwork for what we know as microlearning today. In 2005, the first-ever conference on microlearning was held in Innsbruck, Austria and organized by the Research Studio eLearning Environments and the Institute of Educational Sciences at the University of Innsbruck. The conference sought to bring together the concepts and ground work of micro-teaching and what was being used in higher education and corporate training. The results? What we know microlearning as today. I have explained this in a lot more detail and dispelled many myths in my full article on LinkedIn here.
- What are your thoughts on the future of workforce skilling and learning as a whole?
The world of work is changing and you need to be prepared. The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) means some jobs will disappear and new jobs will emerge. But because it’s such a fast-changing environment, it’ll be less about aiming for your dream job and more about gaining skills that can be applied to a range of jobs. Many of these jobs may not even have emerged yet. But one thing is certain – they’ll need skilled people. As AI and machine learning continues to develop so will the speed of learning and need for change.
We’d like to extend a big ‘thank you’ to Craig for taking the time to answer some of these key questions to help our audience better understand the value of microlearning.