The rapid digitization of industries – known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution – is pushing governments to catch up to a private sector that is quickly transforming the way we live and work. Governments are currently in a critical position to make significant investments in technology, as national crises like the COVID-19 pandemic have shown how government agencies that are data-driven, automated, and adept at leveraging smart technology have the advantage of being able to make decisions quickly, collaborate with other organizations, track benchmarks, and increase public transparency. Governments also have the benefit of learning from examples set by early adopters of technological innovation and investment in the private sector.
Coursera’s eBook, “A 4-Step Guide to Maximizing Success From Your Technology Investments”, emphasizes the importance of focusing on workplace training so that government and public sector employees can become skilled at the latest technologies. This leads to an upwardly mobile work force, which can bring cost-savings to governments that no longer have to seek outside consultation to keep up with new technology. Investing in technology can be a costly endeavor; governments that upskill their employees to use and manage technology in-house will see longevity and success in their technological endeavors.
Although the pandemic fast-tracked a mass shift to digital learning, many companies had already begun training their employees with remote online learning tools, as the Fourth Industrial Revolution was already changing how we approach workplace training, generating a greater urgency to ramp up professional training and education programs to keep employees up to speed with technological innovation. As organizations adopt automation, data collection and analysis, IoT, and AI, traditional forms of learning are no longer sustainable. As a result, there has been a major shift to new forms of learning that challenge previous models. Governments stand to benefit from these examples.
Modern forms of learning must embrace change management to keep up with rapidly changing digital landscape. In the eBook, experts encourage governments to follow four pillars for creating workplace training programs that are adaptable while continuing to drive technological innovation. First, programs should establish foundational knowledge, as employees must develop basic knowledge of technology in order to understand new skills later. Second, employees must be able to apply their new skills, as 75 percent of learning is lost if it isn’t used. Third, courses should be tailored to the individual learner, so that all skill levels are accommodated. And fourth, the training should apply uniquely to the organization, so that the new skills are immediately applicable.
Traditional classroom learning environments can be inhibited by factors such as restrictions on time and space, and less flexibility to customize learning experiences. Online learning, on the other hand, offers new solutions to these setbacks. For example, Guided Projects uses virtual cloud desktops, which make it easier to bypass logistical barriers such as software installation and licensing. Online learning platforms are also customizable – each Guided Projects course is scalable and can be curated to meet both the agency and individual learner’s needs, meaning learners can work through guided instruction at their own pace. These features help learning programs better accommodate the four fundamental pillars.
The federal government already has a plan in the works to make sweeping investments in technology with the White House’s forthcoming President’s Management Agenda (PMA), which will modernize IT and leverage data insights. A huge concern, however, is how federal agencies will retain the technical talent necessary to keep these programs running as well as innovating. It isn’t wise to simply seek new talent to keep up with technology, as the expertise offered by long-term employees remains an asset to federal agencies. Online learning programs that focus on reskilling and upskilling long-term employees will not only help them grow professionally, but will also increase retention and ultimately benefit the governments that employ them.
To learn more about how online learning programs help governments make the most of their investments in technology, download Coursera’s eBook “A 4-Step Guide to Maximizing Success From Your Technology Investments.”