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Professional Training

Learn more about different types of professional development, continuing education trends and different application areas. A free ebook on this topic can be downloaded at the bottom of the page.

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1. Types of continuing vocational training

Face-to-face learning

In face-to-face learning, the dino of continuing vocational training, the seminar leader and learning group come together at the same time to work on learning content together, to discuss it and to achieve common learning goals. Although the presence learning in seminars was supplemented by various new forms of learning, it is not (yet) to be excluded from the further training. Because it still offers a number of advantages.

These are:

  • Promoting social interaction
  • Development of a sense of belonging within the learning group
  • Promotion of confidence building within the learning group

However, disadvantages that cannot be discussed away are:

  • Travel time
  • Taking the learners out of the workforce
  • Learning groups are usually very heterogeneous and the learning contents do not always fit exactly.

E-learning

The big "E" in e-learning stands for electronic - electronically supported learning. This includes online courses, the use of learning software or learning in a virtual classroom. Of course, this presupposes that users are familiar with the handling of digital media and devices. Then they can benefit from the numerous advantages that e-learning offers them.

For example, e-learning can be perfectly integrated into one's own working day - because content can be retrieved anywhere and at any time ie self-paced learning. In addition, the employee does not have to travel to a physical classroom - this saves a measureable amount of time, while the employer is happy to save money.

And: Since different media and presentation formats can be combined with each other, different types of learning styles can be addressed. E-learning caters to different senses, in particular hearing or seeing - via text, video, animation or graphics. In addition, the learning success can be controlled at the push of a button. Statistical functions or learning progress analyses provide an excellent overview of all learning processes and can be adapted if necessary.

However, e-learning will never completely replace classical learning formats. Because there is a catch: If learners have special questions, they have limited possibilities to ask questions them with e-learning formats. The contents are presented continuously - without direct contact to the trainer. This can also lead to misinterpretation of the content, which impairs learning success. Accordingly, e-learning is particularly suitable as a supplement to seminars.

Blended Learning

Blended meaning "mixed" or "mixed together". Accordingly, blended learning refers to a mix of different forms of learning. In practice, blended learning offers combine, for example, phases of face-to-face teaching with supplementary offers from the e-learning sector.

These can be video recordings, slides, podcasts or knowledge quizzes. This content can be flexibly retrieved and edited by learners. The corresponding phases of concentrated IT-supported learning relieve the burden on the classroom sessions, in which the interaction of the learning group, the application of what has been learnt and the exchange of experiences are the focal points.

The principle of blended learning is very practical for the participants for several reasons:

  • The process of learning is not time- and location-bound: Learners can devote themselves to the material in those moments when they have their head free for it. This promotes learning success, because learners are always fully involved when they retrieve learning content.
  • Improving work/life balance: Learning and leisure are no longer opposing forces thanks to the flexibility that blended learning brings. So there is nothing to be said against spending a nice afternoon with friends and family, for example, and then devoting yourself intensively to the learning content in the evening. This increases the motivation to take part in a course.
  • Promotion of independent work: A side effect of blended learning is that skills such as self-motivation and personal responsibility are enhanced. The learner disciplines themself in order to accept the offer. This can also be an advantage in everyday professional life.

Integrating blended learning offerings into vocational training is also extremely practical for the employer, as employees are less likely to be absent than at face-to-face seminars thanks to the flexible online sessions that can be called up. This reduces costs.

Mobile Learning

Learning goes mobile: Mobile Learning or M-Learning means nothing other than that learners access learning content via their smartphone, tablet or laptop. This has a decisive advantage: learning can take place not only at any time, but also at any place. Even if the employee is not at work at the time, but is on the road or travelling by train to the customer appointment. The learning content can be retrieved and edited by optimal at idle times. This makes continuing vocational training a highly flexible affair.

This is how it works: Employers upload individual content into a learning app, which can be edited by the employee in the app. An explanation video with a subsequent quiz, for example. But mobile learning can do even more. It also involves interaction with the teacher and other learners. Teachers and learners are networked via their mobile devices and can, for example, exchange information individually or in groups via the chat applications.

Mobile Learning is also an extremely positive contributor to Work Life Balance. After all, it is perfectly compatible with one's private life. The learner is not dependent on fixed times during which he has to complete courses. Instead, he can coordinate with the family when he can retrieve and edit his learning content. So it is no problem to take enough time for one's own relatives, friends and acquaintances and to further educate oneself professionally.

The way in which learning content is prepared can also contribute to a positive work/life balance. Mobile Learning often consists of so-called learning nuggets, which are shorter learning units. These can be accommodated much more easily in everyday life than "classic" learning units of a few hours.

Micro Learning

Micro Learning - this form of learning is about imparting knowledge in small portions. Compared to other common learning formats, these are "microscopically" small. A course unit usually lasts hardly more than two or five minutes.

Classic formats for Micro Learning are:

  • Short videos
  • Interactive videos
  • Whiteboard animations
  • Infographics
  • E-Books
  • Interactive PDFs
  • Wikis
  • Blogs
  • Chats with experts

In very fast-moving industries like IT, Micro Learning offers a number of advantages. Here, work steps and contents change rapidly. This makes it all the more important that employees always stay on the ball. Micro-Learning enables learners to update themselves continuously and quickly. Staying that way is always up-to-date.

Microlearning combines several advantages:

  • New knowledge can be developed at short notice during working hours and implemented immediately.
  • With Micro Learning, existing gaps in knowledge can be closed quickly and precisely.
  • Access to the teaching material does not interrupt the workflow during work.
  • Microlearning takes the most diverse formats into account and is suitable for every type of learner.
  • The individual learning units are so short that they can be completed quickly and knowledge can be implemented quickly and effectively.

Social Learning

Social media have not only changed the way we communicate with each other, but also the way we learn. Users are increasingly sharing exciting knowledge contributions with their followers on social platforms. And since people with the same preferences usually connect via Facebook, Instagram, etc., the interest in shared subject matter is usually very high.

Many employers offer their employees collaboration and information exchange opportunities in the professional sector via a corporate social networks. Using communication and social media apps for use in business, colleagues can inform themselves via news stream or chats about interesting facts, send pictures, text and voice messages or video messages. Employee apps are an enriching component of internal training because internal knowledge is always in flux and informal learning is encouraged across different locations.

At the same time, social learning enables peer-to-peer learning, in which knowledge is not shared by a teacher, but by an employee who shares his knowledge with others. The corresponding content can be processed within an employee app and shared precisely with the right audience.

Peer-to-peer learning brings numerous benefits to organisations. What is learned on the job often also fits perfectly into the strategic needs of the respective company. The value multiplies when the learning is shared. And on top of that, it also networks colleagues with each other and promotes communication within the organization. A win-win situation.

Training on the Job

Training on the job means learning at the workplace. In contrast to often theoretical learning in seminars, training on the Job focuses on the transfer of knowledge in the immediate working environment. New skills are either developed by the learner himself or demonstrated by a mentor and then directly applied, trained and consolidated by the trainee. The whole thing also works online across different locations. For example via chat or videoconferencing.

Dual or in-company training

Anyone seeking in-company training generally completes it in a dual form. In other words: The training takes place in parallel in a training occupation and in the vocational school. Vocational school lessons take place on up to two days a week, while trainees work in their training company on the remaining days. Sometimes school lessons are also offered in one block - for a few weeks at a time. While trainees learn theoretical specialist knowledge at vocational school, they acquire practical knowledge and skills in the company. The model exists in Germany, Austria and Switzerland - but it is recognised worldwide because it combines theory and practice very well.

2. Training trends

The Status Quo

The continuing education market is still rather traditional at the moment: First and foremost, internal or external presence formats dominate. 98 and 88 percent respectively of medium-sized companies rely on this. On the other hand, webinars or web-based training courses are much less widespread, each accounting for 37 percent. These are the findings of the Leipzig Graduate School's Continuing Education Trend Monitor.

The authors of the study conclude: "Continuing vocational training in enterprises is one of the few areas in which digitisation is on the upswing, but still at a relatively early stage. Companies now have the opportunity to actively shape change within continuing vocational training. With the integration of new learning formats into in-company continuing training, a considerable increase in efficiency in personnel development can be achieved. The new training formats can be integrated more flexibly and precisely into everyday working life. So the acquisition of knowledge can always take place when it is necessary. Companies should use this competitive advantage: Content, processes, software and hardware as well as legal regulations change at ever shorter intervals.

The driver of this development is digitization, and in most indutries shortened product lifecycles. This always requires new user knowledge. In addition, work content is changing rapidly. More and more routine tasks are being outsourced to the computer and the human resource is increasingly turning to the field of knowledge work.

In other words, we carry out fewer and fewer recurring work processes, but works more strategically and creatively. In order to be able to adequately fulfil these tasks, the individual must constantly update new fields of knowledge.

If companies provide the right infrastructure for this, internal company decisions are always made on the basis of the latest knowledge. This leads to better results. "Therefore, it is not enough to have good schools and education. We must also ensure that all workers can regularly renew and adapt their skills and qualifications so that today's workers can do tomorrow's work. Further training will thus become a central prerequisite for securing work and prosperity in the future," summarises Hubertus Heil, the German Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, in the foreword to the study "Further training for the digital world of work".

According to the representative survey conducted by Bitkom Research on behalf of VdTÜV e.V. and Bitkom e.V., this customer has also reached most employers:

  • For 90 percent of companies, the continuous training and further education of their employees has become an important or even very important topic.
  • 99 percent of companies are of the opinion that lifelong learning is becoming increasingly important.

In practice, however, continuing education leveraging digital and mobile tools is still in its infancy. On average, only 2.3 training days are available per employee and one in five companies states that they do not offer any training at all. Digital learning tools can help close this gap.

Conclusion: A new start in lifelong learning is needed. Not only does further training have to become more digital and more flexible in the everyday lives of employees. Enterprises must also give workers the opportunity to develop their knowledge and to include the time needed for this more strongly in working time calculations.

The future of learning

We saw: Although the range of digital tools on offer for continuing vocational training is growing, the introduction of these solutions in companies is relatively sluggish. However, employers are begining to recognise the benefits of a functioning learning culture and what it means for their overall ability to compete in the marketplace.

The Continuing Vocational Training Trend Monitor states: "Due to the cost pressure in continuing vocational training and the evidence of the highest possible return on investment, it is necessary to adapt the learning content as best as possible to the company requirements. Of particular relevance in this context for the companies surveyed are the practical relevance, the topicality of the learning content taught and the efficient transfer of knowledge: 98 percent of the companies state that the learning content must not be too theoretical, 93 percent emphasise the necessity of compact and efficient transfer of knowledge and 81 percent consider it important that the learning content corresponds to the current state of science.“

In the future, however, it will not only be a matter of imparting knowledge, but also of imparting skills that enable employees to use their specialist know-how efficiently depending on the situation.

According to the Bertelsmann Foundation's study "The Future of Learning", "Open and dynamic situations in which decisions are needed are part of everyday life in modern times. The development of competences is therefore important for all people, regardless of their educational level and the tasks they perform on a daily basis. For this reason, educational offers should meet people's need to build up and expand their competences in a self-organised and personalised way.“

The right framework conditions must be created for this. The study defines the following prerequisites:

  • Learning conditions that take into account the individuality and personal responsibility of the learners by allowing them to plan and implement their personalised learning processes in a self-organised way.
  • There is a need for a learning culture that does justice to demographic change and the associated heterogeneity of learners, by rethinking existing teaching and learning concepts, learning materials, but also the role of today's teachers from the learner's point of view.
  • Learning environments must do justice to the diversity of lifeworlds and the diversity of intercultural challenges, "by learning where real challenges are to be met, taking them up and thus promoting communication and collaborative work and learning between people".
  • Learning environments must actively address technological change "by designing the learning world as a reflection of the increasingly digitised world of work with the aim of efficient competence development".

A combination of different learning opportunities - digital and non-digital - offers learners the opportunities they need to promote individual learning. This enables the management of a wide range of learning materials and media, information on learning progress and tools for teamwork. These offerings can be increasingly expanded and adapted to the new challenges of continuing education. In this way, the learning culture of a company grows with its requirements.

3. USE CASES: Upskilling and Reskilling

Introduction

In the future the demand for digital and specialist skills will increase. Employees must also redevelop certain social skills. For example, the ability to work in a team will become more important. Because teamwork is a good way to work on creative and interdisciplinary tasks in an increasingly complex working environment. More and more often, teams will be composed of experts who complement each other in their specialist knowledge. The more efficiently they work together, the more successfully they manage their tasks. Accordingly, communication skills are required to ensure a smooth exchange of specialist knowledge. The teaching of social skills must in future be part of in-company continuing training. Experts call this reskilling.

According to the study "How companies prepare their employees for the world of work 4.0" by the non-profit organization Ashoka and the management consultancy McKinsey & Company, reskilling supplements the necessary measures for upskilling within continuing vocational training. This means that employees in all existing jobs must be trained to use new digital tools and applications.

"Upskilling and reskilling are short-term measures with which companies must train their employees in order to react to the first waves of technological changes," says Matthias Daub, co-editor of the study and partner at McKinsey. But where do companies stand here? This is shown by the following two use cases.

Use Case Reskilling

The challenge:

According to figures from a Bitkom Study, around 3.4 million jobs will be lost within the next four years because robots or algorithms take over the work that people used to do. However, this does not mean that there will be fewer jobs in the future, as new occupational profiles will be created in other places.

Futurologists therefore assume that in the future, employees will no longer exercise only one, but several professions in their lives, and that they will always assume new roles at different levels. In each there is a need for different social competences, which have to be learned. That makes reskilling indispensable.

Application Upskilling

The challenge:

The study „Upskilling your workforce for the age of the machine“, for which 800 executives and 1200 executives and non-executives from more than 400 large companies with an annual turnover of more than one billion US dollars were surveyed worldwide, proves that the topic of upskilling cannot be postponed either.

The insights:

  • In companies that offer their employees an upskilling program, 46 percent of managers worldwide report that productivity has increased.
  • In already highly digitalized companies, which are only at the beginning of their upskilling program, only 35 percent of managers and 42 percent of employees report an increase in productivity.
  • Companies that have already fully implemented their upskilling programs have saved approximately $90 million more per year than those that do not train their employees.

In a global comparison, however, only ten percent of the companies surveyed have an upskilling program for their own employees. The figures speak for themselves: there is a clear need for action.

The solution

Regardless of whether it is a question of up- or reskilling their own employees - companies will be forced in future to offer their employees suitable further training opportunities. A mobile Academy solution supports the training of employees in both areas.

In the field of reskilling, it offers the perfect preparation for federal examinations. According to figures from 2018, the costs for absenteeism and for the time lost by cadres in resolving internal conflicts are enormous in Switzerland. Strengthening the leadership and management competencies of senior management is therefore more than a sensible investment.

In the area of leadership, the training comprises six modules and gives managers the tools to optimise their communication, but also to lead their teams in an authentic, visionary, understanding and efficient way. Meanwhile, the management training consists of five modules and provides managers with the necessary foundations for a responsible, far-sighted, inspiring and efficient way of dealing with the stresses of everyday life.

In another scenario, you need a unified learning platform for your in-house upskilling program. Do you already have numerous contents and your own trainers? But you do not have a digital platform with which you can easily reorganise your training courses? Are you looking for a partner who designs and/or develops company-specific training courses?

In both cases, The Swiss Mobile Academy is here to assist navigate this new world of learning. We help you to create up-to-date digital teaching materials and provide you with our Swiss Made technology.

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Download the Ebook - professional training