At IBM, that approach has been built into their internal training systems. Via the Your Learning platform, formal and informal courses are available to employees, with content from both within IBM and from outside. IBM Watson cognitive technology is embedded in the system, suggesting further micro-learning modules as it notices employee interest in a topic. As knowledge increases, staff can earn digital badges noting their expertise that they can share on social media platforms such as LinkedIn.
As corporations recognise that specific, technological knowledge can be gained online in a self-directed way, they are focusing more of their attention on ensuring their people have the soft skills necessary to work effectively as a team.
As IBM’s Institute for Business Value’s skills report found, the digital era has created a need for speed, which in turn requires greater transparency, less hierarchy, more fluid teams across organisation and functional boundaries and an agile culture based on experimentation.
The P-TECH program is designed to prepare young people for such a workplace. While it focuses on evolving digital products such as cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and cloud computing, “it has an equal emphasis on professional skills (like) design thinking, agile workflow and critical and creative thinking,” Moffat said.
The importance of interpersonal relationships is certainly an important takeaway for MinterEllison’s Lyras. She was impressed with how employees embraced digital tools such as Yammer to create new non-work related conversations around topics like homeschooling, and video conferencing tools such as Webex to facilitate morning teas, or Friday night drinks.
But there was also a recognition of the importance of deep personal relationships, particularly for younger employees.
“Junior lawyers and consultants do benefit from learning from exposure. But does it need to be 100 per cent all the time?” Lyras said.
“The digital platforms mean you are not cut off – you can share the documents and have the conversations. So we’re quickly rethinking face-to-face learning. But social contracts are important, as is taking the time for those social contracts.”