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In an era of labour shortages, we must rethink training for the job market

November 10, 2021

Nearly 200,000 jobs are currently unfilled in Quebec. This shortage, more pronounced in Quebec than in the rest of Canada, is creating such pressure on businesses that their
growth or even their life is threatened. The causes are multiple: aging of Quebecers, a decrease in immigration and a change of career for many workers since the beginning of the pandemic. Could it be that in-house training would allow older workers, retirees, unemployed or disabled workers, who want to return to work or change career, as well as new immigrants to bring new life to the job market? We believe that training must be adapted to the new employment realities in order that our society can continue to prosper and develop.

The importance of lifelong learning

Workers typically change jobs on average every 4.5 years in their lifetime. In the past, many
workers spent their working lives for the same employer. In addition, updating knowledge, acquiring new skills was not really a concern for either the employee or the employer.

Lifelong learning is a concept that is carried from kindergarten to university. In September, the rector of Université Laval mentioned it in her opening speech: “Lifelong learning remains an important opportunity to be developed in our university.” This concept is proving to be very useful for the survival of businesses in Quebec. Learning in the workplace has evolved a lot in the last few years. At first, it was offered exclusively in training and can now be offered in hybrid or exclusively from a distance form, but there is more.

Some possible forms of corporate learning

In-company learners can acquire new knowledges and skills through micro-training. Micro-learning is an effective form of learning when it is adapted to mobile devices, allowing it to be viewed according to the specific needs of the learners. In addition, each module should contain only one idea in order to facilitate learning. This requires the identification of precise objectives in order to stick to the essentials. Finally, the micro-training
can be prepared using different digital media to make the learning experience

Some possible forms of learning undertaken

Micro-training also allows for experiential learning. The transfer of knowledge is then done in a short time and at little cost. Indeed, the duration of this type of training usually lasts less than five minutes. In addition, learners can share the knowledge they have acquired with others.

Many companies do not use micro-training because they are not sure of its effectiveness and
effectiveness and unprofitability, the shelf life of the content, or because of resistance to change. However, when combined with video, it proves to be one of the most effective way of transmitting knowledge. However, it cannot be applied to all topics and it is not suitable for all learners. When it comes to a detailed training or when the amount of material requires the addition of several modules, micro-learning is not appropriate.

Micro-training can also help change learner behaviors. However, this type of change can only be achieved over the long term and requires personalized, ongoing training, delivered in small blocks of learning, at the right time, naturally adapted to mobile devices, and focused on reinforcing knowledge. Companies benefit from offering training that focuses on
behavioral change as it promotes harmony within the teams. Through improved work engagement and better employee performance, they generate great benefits for both.

On the other hand, augmented reality not only improves the motivation and commitment of
of learners, but it also reduces training time. By the use of immersive technologies, it allows the experimentation of simulations, the use of gamification and online personalized courses. As the user is immersed in this environment that he/she takes control of, the training is told in the first person and allows the user to experience multiple scenario possibilities.

A previously unimaginable concept, some advocate for learning and improving knowledge in organizations through the implementation of a a culture of experimentation that allows for failure.

Reinventing training

Introduced in the United States in 1990, a program called Teach for America offers university
graduates in fields other than teaching, a program that combines practical and theoretical
theory and practice for a short period of time to pursue a teaching career in elementary and secondary levels. By allowing for prior learning assessment and recognition and by offering training based on the core competencies needed in this profession, this program demonstrates that it is possible to innovate in order to counteract the effects of the labour shortage.

To definitely address this labour shortage, training in companies and organizations will ideally be done through the many benefits and innovations of educational technology. Inspired by initiatives such as Teach for America, can Quebec reinvent training in CEGEPs and universities to adjust their programs and training to quickly respond to the urgent needs of businesses and organizations? Lifelong learning requires creativity, flexibility and a broadening of current guidelines.