Training and Development Trends in the Age of Digital Upskilling





By V.Sanjugtha


While digital upskilling is essential in today’s day and age, traditional training still has a role to play.


Technological advancement is not only propelling the upskilling landscape but changing the way training and development programmes are carried out. Smart Investor speaks to several placement agencies and organisations with a focus on corporate learning to understand the trends and directions of the training and development industry. Here are some of their views.






What are the key competencies that most job candidates lack today?

Gan Bock Herm (GBH): Our annual Fresh Graduate Report found that poor command of the English language and poor communication skills were among the reasons for fresh graduate unemployment. The digital economy calls for adaptive thinking capabilities and skills and talents in areas of digital marketing, big data and analytics and e-commerce.


Do candidates prefer organisations that engage in training and development?

GBH: Based on the Employee Job Happiness Report, we found that the lack of training opportunities certainly contributes to the top three drivers of unhappiness among employees while the Top Companies Report revealed that employees voted “training and job development opportunities” among the top five company values that are important to them.





What type of training programmes do you find employers/employees seeking today?

Simran Kaur (SK): They are actively looking for programmes that offer both technical and soft skills know-how. Project management and digital marketing are especially popular and they align with the demand we are seeing in the job market. There’s also growing interest in soft skill courses such as leadership, human capital management and communication skills.


Are training programmes increasingly moving towards individualised online training as opposed to the traditional in-person training sessions?

SK: Yes, for today’s young millennial workforce due to flexibility. However, traditional classroom trainings are still highly regarded for its hands-on approach and interactive group learning environment.






What are the key competencies that most job candidates lack today?

Sarah Tanoue (ST): There are three main competencies which many job candidates in Malaysia need to improve on. These are communication skills, the ability to manage stakeholders, especially for roles that are located remotely or at board level and lastly, leadership in blending task-oriented and relationship-oriented management styles to maximise team performance.


What are some of the unusual job criteria job candidates have put forth as well as from organisation seeking candidates?

ST: We have had some candidates looking to retain their benefits, annual leave, insurance or even the number of medical leave they are entitled to. There are also candidates requesting remote working or reduced working hours, and requests for international mobility.


Some employers show a conscious or unconscious bias towards hiring someone who is similar to themselves and to the general workforce of the company. There are countless studies which show that diversity and inclusion (D&I) boosts productivity and creativity in organisations, hence they really are limiting their business success in approaching hiring with such mindset.


Do job candidates prefer organisations that engage in training and development?

ST: This usually depends on the level of seniority of the candidate. Junior candidates will value opportunities which offer training, qualifications/accreditation and advanced education. Mid-management and above are often more interested in career progression within the company.






Your take on the key competencies most job candidates lack today?

George Yap (GY): Communication and interpersonal skills top the list but there is also a lack of professionalism and patience in embracing job responsibilities despite being tech-savvy.


Share with us some unusual requests candidates as well as organisations seeking job candidates have put forth?

GY: From the job seekers, it ranges from flexible work hours, remote working to speed of promotion on the job but one fresh graduate once asked for unrealistic high salary because he has financial commitment for his new sports car!

Organisations seeking job candidates have requested for social media accounts and a specific physical appearance to name a few.


What type of training programmes do you find employers/employees seeking today?

GY: Soft skills training is popular to improve communication, presentation and problem-solving skills at workplace. Candidates cherish organisations that provide regular trainings for self-development and increased work efficiency.


How engaged are the local companies when upskilling towards Industry 4.0?

GY: Many companies are aware of the need to upskill employees to face digitisation and automation of

services and products. However, the high costs involved and the lack of understanding the long-term

benefits are a deterrent.






What are the key competencies that most job candidates lack today?

Francesca Mah (FM): On average, most candidates spend a mere one to two years on each job, therefore they lack the depth of skills. Mastering a specific skill and learning to harness it well takes time.


How engaged are the local companies in upskilling for the Industry 4.0?

FM: There seem to be mixed reactions towards Industry 4.0. Some companies are going all out to revolutionise their training to be prepared for Industry 4.0 but a lot of companies are still not ready to adopt to the revolution. Naturally, data analysts and IT experts would be the key contributor towards this evolution. Eventually, everybody needs to reskill himself/herself to be able to integrate with the technological changes.


The training and development challenges faced in your company?

FM: One of the biggest challenges we face is situations where staff may think they possess the competence, but the job managers don’t. This is addressed with a proper skill evaluation system/method and clear feedback.


Another challenge is developing staff competency, especially in the areas of strategic thinking and innovation. Usually, a staff would need a good mentor to be able to guide him/her to think on a deeper and broader sense.






Tell us about the key competencies most job candidates lack today?

Vickey Loh (VL): Most job candidates lack self-confidence, limiting their growth and leading to conservative career path planning and lower motivation for leadership roles. From my experience, there is a need for enhancement in critical thinking and problem-solving skills.


What type of programme is currently trending in the training and development industry today?

VL: Cultural team building workshops conducted out of the office are quite paramount these days as young talents are more emotion-centric than previous generations. Talents today value togetherness and forging stronger bonds of loyalty and this leads to increased work efficiency.


How engaged are the local companies in upskilling towards Industry 4.0?

VL: While building Industry 4.0 skills are paramount, it is still very green to local companies where the training skill set selections are still very broad. It might take about one to two years or more for local companies to fully empower employees to adopt the skillsets.


Your organisation’s challenges in the area of training and development?

VL: Selecting the right training for the right employee has proven to be the biggest challenge. Another challenge is updating critical traditional programmes with a dynamic combination of a new mindset and behaviours as well as digital knowledge and skills that are critical to lead teams in the digital era.


Sanjugtha, V. “T raining and Development Trends in the Age of Digital Upskilling” Smart Investor Jan. 2019:30 – 32. Print.



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