As we’ve seen, financial services (FS) organizations will need to transform how they find and train talent or they will risk missing out on the most important benefits of game-changing technology. But in order to truly close the skills gap, the FS industry will need to think carefully about empowering all learners.

As the FS industry moves further into the digital age, workforce education is becoming less of a process and more of a continuous cycle. The industry’s learning programs will need to change to keep pace. This change will need to be more than incremental to meet the demand for new learning. FS organizations will need to update both their means and methods of training to keep pace with the ever-changing technological landscape.

The good news is that creating new training channels and fostering a culture of lifelong learning are investments, not sunk costs. Effective corporate training programs have been shown consistently to help attract, engage, and retain high performers and top talent.

So what should these new learning programs look like? We looked at some powerful tools they should incorporate in earlier posts in this series. For this concluding post in the series, we’re going to zoom out a bit and discuss the principles that should guide FS leaders as they create new learning systems.

  • Learning programs should be multimodal. There are many ways to learn. An abundance of persuasive research has found that no single way of learning works best for everyone. FS learning systems should be designed accordingly.
  • Learning programs should be effortful. The evidence is clear that information retention and skill development are both boosted when learners are required to make some sort of effort in connection with the material. Unsurprisingly, educational research has found that purely passive absorption of information is less effective.
  • Learning programs should be spread out over time. Learners need time to absorb and process new information, ideas, and skills. To achieve meaningful results, learning programs need to be chronologically spread out. Cramming a reskilling program into a single weekend is not a recipe for success.
  • Learning programs need to properly contextualize their material. A number of fascinating educational studies have demonstrated the importance of context when it comes to learning new skills. In one famous example, researchers found that stay-at-home parents in California were far better at arithmetic in the context of shopping for groceries on a budget than on a pen-and-paper math test. Another famous study found a similar effect among children living on the streets of Brazil, who could perform mathmatics when making sales on the streets but could not answer questions testing those skills in the classroom. FS learning programs need to simulate relevant context for their learners as closely as possible.

What does this look like in practice? As it happens, Accenture itself has been involved with some accessible skills initiatives that are showing promising results. As part of our Digital Skills initiative in the UK, to help those excluded from the labor market gain a foothold, we’re offering online digital literacy courses to anyone looking to thrive in the digital economy. The program offers bite-sized digital training modules and gives students the chance to interact with Accenture experts. The initiative is part of our global Skills to Succeed program, which has equipped 2.2 million people with the skills to get a job or build a business. We hope to see that reach three million by 2020.

Key questions for leaders

No one knows exactly what the future of learning will look like for FS. But we do know that it’s going to be different than today, and that the time to start building towards it is now.

Here are some key questions to kickstart your thinking:

  • Has our organization assessed which workers are most exposed to automation?
  • Have we identified how their talents can be redeployed to new areas of value?
  • Are our skill-building systems set up to support older workers and the lower-educated with lifelong learning programs suited to them?

This concludes this blog series, but it doesn’t mean the end of the conversation. If you have questions, comments, or other feedback, I’d love to hear from you. My contact information can be found below. In the meantime, you might be interested in the Accenture report on this topic: It’s Learning. Just Not As We Know It.

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