The Make-or-Break Factors in STEM Training Initiatives
School curricula have changed immensely in the last several years to better prepare children to be part of a STEM-driven (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) workforce. Coding camps, robotics clubs, more options for advanced science and math classes...the next generation of workers have been given all of the tools to prepare for and innovate in a digital, technical industry landscape.
But what about current young talent who did not have the same resources?
Preparing current talent for opportunities in STEM can no longer be an option for employers. It’s a must. In today’s digital-first marketplace, every company has to be, in one way or another, a technology company. Businesses that fail to invest in their employees’ tech abilities are setting themselves up to fall behind, as well. This is also known as enterprise inertia, or an organization’s unwillingness to invest in emerging technologies,
Companies that aren’t prepared to embrace new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and empower their employees to innovate will fall behind their peers, missing out on real revenue, talent acquisition, and retention.
Organizations of all kinds, from governments to nonprofits to businesses, are establishing large-scale initiatives to help prepare the global workforce for the jobs of the future. In fact, in 2018 the U.S. government unveiled “America’s Strategy for STEM Education”—a national vision to improve scientific and technical literacy and prepare the U.S. workforce for the jobs of the future. Moreover, Docebo is committed to increasing the number of women working in technology roles. It aims to tackle the root cause of the problem by inspiring and educating women aspiring to take on a career in technology.
In particular, Docebo is working in collaboration with SheTech to share the career stories of our Docebo Women.
While these are noble goals and essential to pursue, these initiatives represent huge amounts of time and financial investment that could easily be wasted if the approach is misguided. So how can executives mitigate enterprise inertia and invest in elevating their workforces through concerted STEM training?
Here are a few key considerations for business leaders looking to empower their employees through STEM skills training need to keep top-of-mind:
1. Any organization can become a STEM skills leader.
Though large governments and Fortune 500 companies have embarked on the most high-profile STEM training initiatives, it doesn’t take a major organization to become a STEM leader.
Businesses of all sizes are ideal leaders for driving STEM education across the country. With the right partners and technology support, companies can build their own STEM talent pipelines without waiting for a new wave in the talent pool. Businesses can take the lead and more effectively provide work-based learning experiences.
2. Don’t stifle success—let technology amplify training.
Benefiting from shared knowledge will be the most expedient way to see real change in workforce preparedness. Learning is an inherently tactile and collaborative process that requires hands-on work over time in order to optimize. Investing in STEM training cannot yield results in a matter of days, weeks, even months. Because that’s what the process is after all— an investment.
Once organizations have invested time and resources into STEM training programs, digital extended enterprise learning tools can help organizations widen the scope of people they can reach with their resources. Tools such as artificial intelligence can help elevate where traditional and dated training tools and resources cannot.
Of course, training and education is highly personal—and the technology exists to support each individual and cater to his or her unique way of learning. AI allows for highly personalized training to each individual’s particular expertise and maximizes the time spent in training.
In a circular way, technology itself (such as AI) is the most valuable resource for creating a workforce that is prepared to utilize technology. With training programs backed by advanced technology such as AI, training tools can be far more effective than traditional learning programs.
3. The most essential STEM skill? Creativity.
The only real constant is change, so STEM training programs that focus too narrowly on a specific set of tactical skills will not set up participants for success. The goal of STEM training is to challenge employees to understand their work differently and inspire creativity to implement new and innovative business systems.
Particularly in STEM careers, the most valuable employees are those who also have the soft skills essential for problem solving and continuous adaptability, such as communication, creativity, and teamwork. Employees must be given the training support to take the more transactional knowledge and leverage it to support higher level thinking and creativity.
For example, second and third grade students are taught spelling and vocabulary to build words, and then use that knowledge to create thoughts and ideas in writing. The same goes for STEM training—give employees the building blocks and support to use them, and they will be able to transform rote knowledge into innovation.
Companies are aware of the value of training in the age of digital transformation, and many are taking small steps to start catching up. According to a study, almost half (49 percent) of the executives surveyed say their company provides education and training to employees on information security matters. This number is up from 30 percent two years ago, and is a trend in the right direction toward innovation.
But the work is far from over. Training is a marathon, not a sprint. Executives need to invest in their employees through concerted training programs that elevate, empower, and challenge workers to think creatively and innovatively.
Francesca Bossi is the chief human resource officer at Docebo, a learning platform company that is changing the way people learn with artificial intelligence and built on the belief that there is a better way for people to learn and a smarter way for enterprises to train their people. Docebo is used by more than 1,300 companies around the world including Starbucks, Uber and HubSpot for training and development.