NTUC Learning Hub did an Employer Skills Survey this year and found that 93% of the 200 leaders surveyed feel that sending their workers for training during this COVID19 period will help their businesses to develop stronger resilience during this downturn.
This is a jump from the 84% who polled the same way in 2020.
And this even includes businesses in industries that are severely affected such as Tourism, Aviation, Retail, Food Services, Land Transport and Arts and Culture – all of which carry a large portion of blue-collar workers who are typically deskless.
Deskless workers (by definition) have no workstations or corporate-issued computers or email accounts. The only way to reach them digitally is through a phone.
Training is expensive
There is no denying the importance of learning, with or without the pandemic.
It is the best way to skill and level up your employees to do their current job better or even acquire the skills to perform and operate in an entirely different function.
But training ultimately still costs money.
Pre-pandemic, a typical learning experience would mean packing yourself into an auditorium or classroom for a few days, ingesting cups of lousy coffee while doing your best to absorb as much front loading as possible.
Such endeavours are also extremely expensive. Which is fine, if it works. But it didn’t.
According to the research conducted in the 1880s by German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus, learned information fades over time.
“After one hour, people retain less than half of the information presented. After one day, people forget more than 70 per cent of what was taught in training. After six days, people forget 75 per cent of the information in their training.”
So a typical business would suffer downtime by sending employees to off-site training, investing a lot of money for the venue and the trainer, only for most of what was taught to be forgotten.
Does it mean we should just do away with training altogether and save the money entirely?
A better way to learn
The answer lies in a way of learning that increases retention rates.
The Research Institute of America found that eLearning increases retention rates 25% to 60% while retention rates of face-to-face training are very low in comparison: 8% to 10%.
This is because with eLearning students have more control over the learning process as well as the opportunity to revisit the training as needed.
That does not mean simply digitalising the 3-day classroom workshop into electronic format.
Because we, humans, are less attentive than goldfishes.
Battling short attention span
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, at the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the average attention span of a human being has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013.
This is one second less than the attention span of a goldfish.
That’s right, goldfish have an attention span of 9 seconds – 1 second more than you and I.
And that’s back in 2013. Since then we have been better trained by Vines, IG Reels, YouTube Shorts and Tik Tok to achieve an even lower attention span.
To ensure maximum learners’ engagement, electronic content has to be broken into small bite-sized chunks.
Think of the vitamins and supplements you take daily. Just one pill or capsule instead of overdosing on the entire bottle over 72 hours.
So bite-sized material is delivered over a learning software. Seems to be the perfect solution?
Well, not quite.
The sophistication of software
Learning Management System or LMS has been around for ages.
The first fully-featured Learning Management System (LMS) was called EKKO, developed and released by Norway’s NKI Distance Education Network in 1991.
By and large, the advantages of an LMS are interoperability, accessibility, reusability, durability, maintenance ability and adaptability, which in themselves constitute the concept of LMS.
And in the endeavours to out-elbow the competitions, LMS providers began to add more sauce to their cooking.
More settings, more options, more courses and more… confusions.
You don’t need a Boeing 747 to simply fly from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur when a small propeller plane would do the trick.
When software becomes too hard for a typical user to operate, guess what users will do?
They simply stop using.
This is why it is important to go back to basics and be learners-first.
And that is especially important in an industry that is heavy on blue-collar workers.
Blue-collar workers learning woes
A blue-collar worker refers to someone whose profession requires them to perform a good amount of manual labour.
Some of the most common industries that employ these individuals include warehousing, retailer, food services, manufacturing, sanitation and technical installations.
Blue-collar jobs are highly specialized and require someone to be skilled in performing a certain task.
However, for the most part, they do not require any formal education.
That naturally provides a different set of challenges when it comes to implementing learning for blue-collar workers.
Such as it being expensive taking them away from the floor and the ability to focus and retain new knowledge over a long extensive training session.
And some are required to familiarise themselves with a cumbersome LMS which adds to further friction.
What is needed is digital Learning in the Flow of Work, over bite-sized content and delivered across apps that they are already familiar with.
Hang on. What is Learning in the Flow of Work?
The concept of learning in the flow of work is defined as an employee easily accessing an answer to a question – or a piece of learning material – while working.
This empowers employees to find the true value of a tool or process without disrupting their workflow and productivity.
But this will still not work smoothly if the learners are required to navigate overly complicated software.
Simply buying a Udemy license for your deskless workforce isn’t going to work. You’ll need to curate the modules and make it simple for them to consume learning.
You need a simple learning system that is purpose-built to upskill deskless workforce.
Give me an example
The best example comes from ArcLab.
Their mobile-first nano learning platform has no software to install or download.
That is made possible by delivering the content, whether it be training modules, company communication, or digital SOPs, via the browser on your phone (via individualised, authenticated hyperlinks).
It eliminates the issues of training new users on how to navigate a new LMS app when there isn’t one, to begin with.
Even though the content is delivered via browser, there are still rich media that the company can create for learners to consume.
This would include images, infographics, and videos from internal or external sources.
Post-learning assessments have been proven to be a great way to improve knowledge retention.
ArcLab provides the ability to conduct assessments through Multiple-Choice, Open-Ended & Word Unscramble Questions, as well as Polls & Likert Scale.
And for companies that may have workers who are not proficient in English?
ArcLab has a new SmartTranslate feature that can automatically translate your content from English to Chinese, Tamil or Malay (or any other language for that matter).
For the learning administrator, one can easily analyse your workforce’s learning via a company dashboard. It tracks learner progress to help them learn better and deliver better work performance.
ROI from learning
The Association for Talent Development reports a 24% higher profit margin for companies that invest more in employee training.
Firms like Xerox, IBM & Motorola report training ROI at $22-$33 per $1 spent on training.
LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Learning Report showed 93% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers.
Reduction in employee turnover will also lead to lower rehiring & onboarding costs.
Lastly, the time saved from better productivity can be better redeployed.
Firms using ArcLab Mobile Learning for training & communicating with Frontline Deskless Workforce save an average of 11 hrs of staff time every month – time that staff and managers can use for business operations.
And companies such as Fei Siong Group, Woh Hup, 4Fingers and Cedele are embracing ArcLab to upskill their blue-collar workers to drive better performance and productivity.