Dr. Christoph Kahlenberg is head of the Randstad Academy. In an interview he explains why continuing education on the job market of the future is becoming increasingly important.
Kahlenberg studied Political Science, History and Philosophy and holds a Doctorate in Media Studies. He started his career in the sales department of a large German insurance company. 1998 came to Randstad where he worked for over ten years as a branch manager. He joined 2008 at the Randstad Academy and has since been responsible for the Labor Market Projects department.
In Germany, continuing education is more of a shadowy existence than a necessary evil: how do you assess the role of continuing education in the labor market in the future?
Digitization is changing our working world rapidly. New technologies are finding their way into many occupational fields and are influencing how we work. This also increases the demands on the employees. Lifelong learning is becoming an essential part of professional careers. Corporate learning is becoming increasingly important. Only those who continue their education will stay on the ball.
On the other hand, qualified employees are an important factor for companies successto survive in international competition. The narrow job market will lead to an increasing number of companies investing in the development of their employees in order to remain productive and innovative.
In which sectors do you think further education is particularly important and particularly in demand?
The topic does not stop at any industry. The world of work is currently undergoing a major transformation.
Whether this is the industry, where employees are increasingly collaborating with digital helpers from the field of robotics, or the banking sector, where countless amounts of data must be evaluated and recommendations for action must be made. Every industry is wise to make offers here.
The need for lifelong learning is emphasized everywhere, including employers. What is your experience in practice? Is lifelong learning sufficiently practiced in companies or is it just a phrase?
Many companies are already offering their employees training opportunities. The urgency of this topic is often not yet clear. 54% of employees see the skills gap that causes digitization as a big problem. This has resulted in our study Randstad Working Barometer. Measures must be targeted. The topic is quite complex. In companies, employees carry out very different tasks.
There are also the different training backgrounds. Take as an example knowledge in dealing with digital programs. Not everyone is on the same level. Providing the right offer for everyone - be it in the form of online or classroom training - is a great challenge for companies. Only they have to tackle it now. If you oversleep this task, you will not be able to catch up.
Recruitment and training - Is this a combination of which we will hear more in the future?
Personnel service providers have client companies from a wide range of industries. They are very close to the changes in the world of work. We started early on to make our employees fit for the increasing and changing demands. The Randstad Academy continuously develops offers for applicants and employees.
This ranges from eLearning courses to part-time training such as “learning on the job” to qualification programs that ultimately lead to a full professional qualification. As a result, our employees not only expand their skills, they also increase their employment opportunities in the labor market.
Do good training opportunities make employers attractive? And what do employers have to do concretely to use this factor for themselves?
A clear yes. Training opportunities should be standard. This does not mean that every company has to develop and provide its own services. In cooperation with educational partners, for example, attractive, needs-based programs can be set up and synergies can be exploited. In any case, employers should encourage their employees to continue their education and firmly anchor the topic in their corporate culture.
What influence will the increasing importance of further education have on the recruiting process? Up until now, companies have been looking for employees with complete knowledge - will that change and, if so, how fast?
That depends on the job advertised and the applicant. Expertise will still be required for highly qualified positions. In vacancies where you simply do not get an applicant, because the market is empty and there are no appropriate professionals available, a rethinking will have to take place.
Because that will be the case more and more often. Here, companies do well to develop measures that quickly prepare a candidate who does not yet have all the necessary qualifications for the respective job requirement. Only in this way can companies remain innovative and competitive. For example, in the context of qualification tests, we examine the candidates' skills in a targeted manner. If we realize that there is still a lack of specialist knowledge, we offer targeted further education courses to compensate for this. Of course, that's not always possible.
Will this process also affect classical studies / vocational training? There have long been people who question universities in the age of MOOCs and blended learning. What is your opinion here?
I think universities, colleges and adult education providers will be offering an offer for every type of learning in the future. It is also practical to follow a lecture from home via video transmission.
But I do not believe that online offers will completely replace presence events. In addition to the mere transfer of knowledge, personal exchange and discussion is still important. Of course, this is also about chats today, but the quality is yet another.
A worry that plagues many employers, for example in the competitive IT: they invest in expensive education and training, but when the employees have completed this, the competition exempts them. How do you meet such fears? How can they be broken down?
If companies pull walls here, it will not work. Of course it is annoying for a employer, if he has trained a specialist top and this then changes to a competitor. But investment in education is never lost money.
The retired specialist will certainly speak positively about her employer, who made all this possible. Training is also an investment in employer branding.
The Randstad working barometer shows: 51% of employees are well aware that they need to take the initiative and educate themselves to secure their jobs. But how can employers promote this initiative even more?
Often, employees think, when I ask for a training, I confess that I have knowledge gaps. Companies should establish an open learning culture in which further education becomes a matter of course. Everyone in the company, no matter what position, should regularly refresh their knowledge in their professional life.
Executives can set a good example here. Further education should be part of the good sound of a company. In addition, learning opportunities should be low-threshold, that is, the hurdles for workers as low as possible. If complicated registration processes are necessary, the willingness to participate will be reduced very quickly.
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