Tommaso Agasisti is the Associate Dean for Internationalisation & Quality at MIP Politecnico di Milano.
Internal training processes in companies are undergoing a phase of profound transformation. The circumstances imposing this radical change are numerous and have been playing their role since well before the Covid emergency.
Today, the purpose of training is no longer just to ensure a constant improvement in the skills of employees, but to place itself at the heart of real policies of investment in people to ensure a more sustainable way of working and oriented towards the common good. The next few years will be a test to see how training will be able to play a leading role in these changes and establish new horizons and standards.
MIP Corporate Education Community
The Corporate Education Community is an initiative launched at MIP under the patronage of ASFOR (Italian Association for Managerial Training). It involves the realities of working in corporate training with two of their own, personal aims. Firstly, the initiative aims to create a network of innovative companies in the field of corporate training. Secondly, it aims to identify the trends and future perspectives in Corporate Education.
The community focuses its research activity on three main areas; the role of corporate training in supporting corporate strategy and transformation, the evolution of corporate issues, formats and tools, and the role of new technologies.
Community members are called to play an active role in the research activity, made up of brainstorming, interviews, focus groups and networking. Based on the results of a survey carried out on a sample of 116 companies (71% large companies and 29% SMEs) operating in Italy, members have produced the first Corporate Education Community report on the evolution of corporate training.
Corporate Education Community report
The aim of this report is to contribute to the knowledge of a phenomenon that is important but too often under-investigated, the evolution – the “transition” if we use a term that is now fashionable and perhaps even abused – of corporate training from being a tool for supporting company processes and updating basic skills in the hands of personnel management, to becoming a real tool for applying strategic direction, a necessary accompaniment for the transformation of a company in increasingly competitive contexts.
The report found that corporate training in Italy is, on average, of high quality. Around 90% of companies consider themselves satisfied with what is organised internally in terms of upskilling and reskilling. This is most likely due to the fact that 93% of Italian companies consider it a priority to invest in the upskilling of employees.
From the point of view of external factors, the increasing automation of various business functions and activities has required the rethinking of roles within organisations and the necessary skills. Systematic analysis between the competencies required and the competencies available within companies has revealed the existence of significant skill gaps, which require a conscious and intentional investment in upskilling and reskilling actions.
On the other hand, looking at internal factors, many companies have experimented – in the changing environment in which they are immersed – with alternative ways of managing their activities. For example, developing incentive systems that differ from the traditional ways based on financial profit. In many circumstances, the human resources within these companies were not immediately ready to capture the scope of these changes, and to grasp their potential.
Given the perspective characterised by these changes, the role of in-company training is rapidly changing its objectives and operating methods.
The emergency linked to Covid-19 has significantly accentuated certain dynamics, such as the adoption of a broader perspective in rethinking forms of work (smart and remote working), as well as training methods (from classroom to digital to hybrid). Digital transformation is the most important training topic to invest in over the next quarter, and 93% of companies consider it a relevant asset. Other training themes that companies will focus on by 2024 include lean or agile methods.
Going back to the research data, it is also clear that the relevance of the thematic areas covered by the training projects depends on the reference sector of the companies. The already mentioned digital transformation, for example, is a priority for utilities and multi-utilities, like energy and waste, surpassing other sectors. Finance and accounting topics are more interesting for banks, insurance companies and consulting firms. On the contrary, marketing sales contents are more relevant for commercial players. Smart working issues, in terms of training, are also a priority for the energy sector.
Yet the report found that, in the last 18 months, experiential techniques applied to employee training have not been easy to use: limited access to workplaces has not allowed for the kind of on-the-job learning that was widely used before 2020. Custom digital and online learning platforms seem to have rapidly reached a high degree of maturity, according to responding companies.
The next few years will be a chance to really watch how this digital transformation and training transpires, and give leaders the opportunity to consolidate new paradigms.
This report, which is the result of the dialogue and work between MIP Politecnico di Milano and a number of important companies that are part of its ecosystem, is intended as an initial support tool in this direction.