New Leaf Technologies’ MD Michael Hanly explains what qualities companies are looking for and why they need to invest in learning and development programmes for staff
JOHANNESBURG, 30 March 2023 – Equipping and re-equipping professionals with the insights they need to stay relevant in their professions is no simple task.
The rapid speed at which technology is advancing can be terrifying for many people, as just as they have become used to a certain way of doing things, they need to be retrained.
The advent of technologies like ChatGPT, LaMDA and Neuralink are making professionals even more nervous. Suddenly they are questioning whether they are even needed anymore or whether they might be retrenched.
Particularly in a country like South Africa, where the business environment can be volatile due to the political and economic dynamic, these concerns are felt even more deeply.
It may seem blunt, but the reality is that modern South African workers needs to be able to adapt to these changes and navigate challenges quickly and effectively.
Fortunately, says Michael Hanly, MD of South African online learning solutions provider New Leaf Technologies, there are learnable skills that can equip people for this ‘new world’ where different ways of doing things arrive almost every other month. These include:
- Digital literacy: As more businesses move online and remote work becomes increasingly common, digital literacy is becoming a fundamental skill. This includes proficiency in basic computer skills as well as more advanced knowledge of software, data analytics and cybersecurity.
- Leadership and management: Leaders need to navigate complex business environments, motivate teams and drive innovation.
- Creativity and innovation: These are essential for companies looking to stay ahead of the curve.
- Emotional intelligence: Emotional intelligence (EQ) helps workers at all levels communicate effectively, manage stress and build strong relationships.
- Cultural competence: Understanding of different cultural norms and values and being able to work effectively with people from different backgrounds is crucial in South Africa.
- Data analysis: There is an increasing demand for professionals who can analyse and interpret large volumes of data to inform business decisions.
- Communication skills: This includes not only written and verbal communication, but also the ability to listen actively and work collaboratively with others.
- Critical thinking and problem-solving: Analysing information, identifying patterns and trends, and developing creative solutions to complex problems are a must these days.
Hanly says these skills are likely to remain in high demand for the foreseeable future, which it is why every business should be investing in learning and development (L&D) programmes to help employees along.
“These programmes should be designed to meet the specific needs of the learners and should include a variety of learning methods, such as classroom-based training, online learning and on-the-job training,” he says.
“Educators and training companies should partner with the right industry experts who can provide insights on current industry trends, technological advancements and market demands. Innovative and interactive learning methods such as gamification, simulations, scenario-based learning and virtual reality are encouraged, while it is vital to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the training to ensure that they are achieving the desired outcomes.”
Having the right tool for this purpose is critical. This is called a learning management system (LMS) or Learning Experience Platform (LXP), which is designed to deliver engaging, practical and personalised experiences.
The LMS needs to offer a variety of content types and formats, such as SCORM and xAPI, virtual classrooms, simulations, gamification and even built-in content authoring. It must also include analytics and reporting tools to track learners’ progress and identify areas for improvement.
New Leaf Technologies has exclusive rights to the aNewSpring LMS platform in Africa. This platform ticks every box and allows educators and training companies to create personalised learning paths for learners based on their individual needs and learning preferences, what is known as ‘adaptive learning’.
A study recently undertaken by aNewSpring in partnership with Dutch publishing house Bohn Statleu van Loghu showed that adaptive learning can reduce study time by more than 30% compared to traditional e-learning methods, all while maintaining the learners’ grades and results.
Importantly in the context of South Africa’s need to grow the small business sector, the platform can accommodate organisations of any size, from small startups to large enterprises.
“We’ve found that the aNewSpring Learning Platform is very well-suited to meet the demands of the skills gap in South Africa,” Hanly says.
“It is fully SETA-compliant and automates Annual Training Reports and Workplace Skills Plans, saving you a huge amount of administrative frustration. It is also now available with a text-to-speech engine for all 11 official South African languages. It truly is the unicorn solution that encompasses every training requirement for training companies and corporates to equip their professionals.”