The future of enterprise learning is evolving at a very fast pace. AI-powered learning and skilling are gaining traction in the modern workplace.

The changing learning landscape has given rise to many questions like:

What modern approach can you take to successfully upskill the employees?

How can you justify the ROI for training and development with a high attrition rate?

How learning differs for blue-collar and white-collar employees? 

Mr. Kuljit Chadha, Co-founder, and COO of Disprz answers key questions related to enterprise learning and skilling in an insightful podcast hosted by Mr. Adrian Tan. 

Here are a few highlights of the  podcast: 

Do you see any difference in the way blue-collar and white-collar employees consume learning? 

Kuljit – Sure! Just to provide a little context. Our company Disprz services close to about one million users and we have a good mix of blue-collar and white-collar workforce. When we look at learning patterns, there are a few dimensions we focus on.

The first part is the delivery, which is the consumption device. If you look at the blue-collar workforce 90% of learning happens on the mobile phone and the data that we have seen with respect to a knowledge worker is 50-50.

The second thing is around skilling, so going back to the first question. You will also notice that the blue-collar workforce usually focuses on learning about the products and processes of the company, which is more functional in nature. 

But when you look at the white-collar workforce, it is the combination of both functional and leadership skills. Plus you will also notice that they will use a lot of MOOC which is nothing but Massively Open Online Courses like edX, Udemy, and Coursera.

The third dimension that we look at is language. More often you will notice that for the blue-collar workforce content is in the localized language, it could be Mandarin, Malay or Thai languages. So, language plays a very important role in learning for the blue-collar workforce. For white-collar workers,  it is mostly English. 

Is the blue-collar employees’ learning impacted by the way it is being delivered in terms of medium, channel, and duration of the training? 

Kuljit- Absolutely! Let’s look at the content format. In some of the data we’ve gathered, we’ve noticed that in the case of the blue-collar workforce the primary device is the mobile phone. 

We usually see three formats of learning which are very popular-

Flashcard – It is like a summary card that is shown to you on a mobile phone. Sometimes it will have a voiceover, sometimes it won’t. Flashcard is one format we’ve seen that is very popular among the blue-collar workforce. 

Game-based learning – Blue-collar workforce likes to play games. So, while they are playing games they are actually learning.

Video content – Because we stay in the world of Netflix, we’ve seen the maximum amount of engagement coming through video-based content. 

So these are three formats we’ve usually seen with respect to the content format. Another key trend that we have seen is around the completion ratios.

What is interesting is that in the blue-collar workforce the completion ratio is very high compared to a knowledge worker. One of the reasons is that the learning of a blue-collar workforce is usually driven by the business team and more often it is the operation head or the operation team. That is why they use both- the carrot and stick model to drive the adoption. 

Most companies find it hard to justify the ROI for the training. As some people leave after the training. What’s your opinion on that? 

Kuljit- That’s a million-dollar question, and I get asked about this pretty much by every CHRO or CLO that I meet. Let’s first talk about what metrics are used today and then look at what metrics we believe should be used in the future.

If you read the recent LinkedIn workplace report, some of the key metrics that organizations are using today,  the most popular one at the top is qualitative feedback. They take feedback from the employees, asking them if they liked the course and what they learned from them.

Two, they also take the feedback from the manager to understand that whatever they’re learning – Is that translating into better work performance?

And the third one, which is a very standard one – the monthly active users on the learning management system and what are the completion ratios. 

So we believe this was in the past. But if you really want to show the impact of learning you need to figure out a way to link it to the business outcome. There are a couple of ways to do that. However, the two primary parameters are Performance and Potential.  

Performance –  Nowadays a lot of organizations,  instead of analyzing training needs, are actually taking data from business systems like CRM or Freshdesk to understand what is the customer satisfaction score. The data from these business systems are used to identify where the training gaps are. Based on the gaps, the training/learning is disseminated to employees. So the training-need-analysis starts from the business. After the training is done they actually see whether it impacts the business or not. 

I will give you a couple of examples. We worked with a logistics company. We took this approach and helped them reduce the delivery package that was damaged by almost 3%. This made a huge impact. Second,  a similar approach we took for a retail company. Where the starting point was actually the customer satisfaction score and there also we were able to make a difference of 8-10% by bringing learning, driven through the business data. So that’s the first thing we realized that performance is a good parameter to use for the future.

Potential – So how do you understand the potential of a user? That’s where you have to assess the skill gaps. We use metrics called skill score and role score. This is a good way to understand what are the skill gaps at a personal level and then you actually provide training or learning journeys only to address those skill gaps. As people learn and their skill score improves that’s how you show that the potential or the productivity of the employees are increasing. 

So the performance and potential, I guess are the two key things that will become the right metrics for the ROI in the learning industry in the future. 

Companies like Google and Salesforce have their own academy to teach and create experts in a particular field. Would this be possible for a common company?  

Kuljit- Yes! That’s where companies like ours come into the picture. Just to give you a framework that we have adopted and we are taking it to a lot of organizations. If you see our growth, we’ve pretty much tripled our revenue in the last couple of years. One of the reasons is because of the framework we take to the organizations. Our framework is very simple it is based on four pillars: 

Skill Identification – If you belong to any industry, any role within a function, we give you clear visibility about what skills you need. Very similar to what the Singapore SkillsFeature does. 

Skill Assessment – We do various assessments like 360-degree assessments, coding assessments, objective assessments to understand where the gaps are. The metrics that we use are skill score and role score. Once we understand that, we use technology. 

Skill Building – Nowadays the CHRO and the CLO team are actually spending a lot of time creating journeys. We harness AI to automatically stitch a very personalized learning journey for you. This takes into picture two things-What is your learning style – So if you like more video, there is going to be more video in your journey. Two, the skills that are put within the learning pathway are based on the areas which are critical and the skill gap. So the skill building is pretty much driven through AI and cognitive science. 

Skill Impact -By doing all this investment what is the actual impact it is doing on the business and on talent mobility. This framework, if you look at our client portfolio, we have some very large organization that we call- whales, that are organizations with a workforce of more than 8 to 10000. But we are taking the same framework for small companies even with 700 to 800 employees and it is working beautifully there. So I think there are solutions in the market for both enterprises and small businesses. 

What’s next for disprz? 

Kuljit- One thing that we’ve been doing aggressively is investing in what we call micro experiences. 

Micro experiences can be on-the-job training with live feedback coming from the manager. It could be mentoring and coaching sessions. So we’ve been spending a lot of resources on what we call a micro experience. 

We’ve been using a lot of resources on the curation of the content and localizing that content for the blue-collar workforce so that is the second area we are investing a lot of our time in.

The third one is talent mobility. So the objective is that people are very interested to know where their future is going to take them. Being explicit to an employee, that this is where you stand today and if you invest so much time in a specific skill within the next 2-3 years this is the job role you can take within the organization or outside in the market and this could be your salary.  

These are the three places – micro experiences, content, and talent mobility is where we are investing a lot of our time.