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SkillingNow Podcast: Episode 8 - English Transcript

Transcript Podcast GAN Argentina – Episode 8

Cecilia Sleiman: Welcome to a new episode of the SkillingNow Podcast. Our episode today is dedicated to Return on Investment (RoI) in Training. My name is Cecilia Sleiman, I am the Coordinator of GAN Argentina and I am here with Diego Bekerman, Managing Director of Microsoft Argentina, and with Jorge Figueroa, Director of Public Affairs and Sustainability of Randstad Argentina. Welcome to you both! I wanted to start with some questions about changes in the world of work and the future of employment, and how new workers find training and development opportunities in Argentine companies and both your companies, which operate both globally and in Argentina, and what do you see in other countries. I wanted to begin with a first question for both of you: what do you think are the factors that most affect the changes in training that current and future workers need?

Jorge Figueroa: Well Cecilia, thank you very much for the invitation. Diego, thank you for joining as well. What Randstad observes as a Human Resources specialist, is first, that the future is quite uncertain as to what skills or abilities will be required in the future. What we do know is that skills related to learning and unlearning quickly will be required, because the evolution or speed with which technology grows is exponential, compared to the linear growth of the learning process. In fact, today 65% of the kids who are in primary school will be developing careers for jobs that don’t yet exist. So this poses a major challenge in terms of training, where the company is going to have a more than important role and perhaps, even more important than formal education.

Cecilia Sleiman: Diego?

Diego Bekerman: Hello everyone, thank you for the invitation. On Jorge's point, let me add the following. The first thing is: I think today we are looking for teams that are curious with this element of learning a bit of everything, because the team format where you are looking for specialists who complete the perfect perspective does not exist anymore. Beyond the future, today all our interaction is intervened by technology, by artificial intelligence, and I believe that it is not only the role of learning that is important, but the flexibility to rethink ourselves permanently, and the diversity with which we form the teams to understand the dynamics that we have to serve to have a real and concrete impact, and use the technology as an amplifier, and not as a disruptor.

Cecilia Sleiman: And speaking about the labor market, to what extent do you agree with the statement that "global economic growth is delayed because workers' skills today are not up to the jobs required today and in the future"?

Diego Bekerman: I think there is concern about artificial intelligence replacing workers and there is also this worry about a growth lag. However, I think it is more about how we prepare ourselves for the current context. I consider myself an optimist, and I think we have to consider the situation from that point of view: think about how we understand the logic of the technologies we interact with, and how they amplify our capabilities. Learning is continuous and permanent. So, if we think of workers who want to redefine themselves, what they have to do is study permanently, and that's what all of us have to do. If you think about the young people who are joining the labor force, the way to accelerate that growth is to embrace technology as a productive factor, understand it and interact with it to generate greater growth.

Jorge Figueroa: Well, I totally agree with Diego. I believe that the human factor continues and will continue to be fundamental in the development of all organizations. I think technology can be a complementary tool that improves quality. There are very profound changes taking place that are changing the interpersonal relationships and the relationship between people and the environment. Our formal education today means that we dedicate about 80-100% of our effort to learning during an average of 20% of life; that is, from 5 to 25. For a time when education was not out of date, or knowledge was not out of date, it was perfect. From now on, as Diego said, it is lifelong education and knowledge, which means that for the rest of our lives we have to spend at least 20% of our time to reskill and acquire new knowledge.

Cecilia Sleiman: And speaking of learning new things, of reskilling people for future jobs, thinking about social inclusion, and also from the perspective of companies having sufficient human resources to face the changes that companies also experience - what strategies do you see? How are the experiences being managed?

Diego Bekerman: I think the important thing here is that we talk a lot about reskilling. And I think that in the framework of companies this especially happens in companies that are very connected with the use of technology. The role of companies in the world is to help include more people in the present and in the future. The activities and collaboration of governments in digital talent agendas are fundamental. I think there are very good experiences, where private companies and third sector organizations focus on helping, building skills, arousing curiosity, encouraging critical thinking of people who have devoted their entire lives to a single profession and have to acquire new skills to stay relevant. This connection between the three actors also becomes decisive for the growth of communities and countries.

Jorge Figueroa: We see that there will be a concept based on knowledge that will build the skills of the future. That is, on what are called STEM jobs: science, technology, engineering and mathematics. But there's also going to be a sector where we're going to have to develop soft skills that have to do with care and free time. Because people's age or active life expectancy is also growing, meaning that everything that has to do with entertainment and leisure is going to be one of the businesses of the future. So, from that perspective I think that companies have an important role to play and they are going to have to articulate with the State what forms of education we need to adapt to the market. Last year, Randstad participated in skilling and reskilling programs and reached 300,000 people worldwide. Because our customers are asking us for profiles adapted to current requirements.

Cecilia Sleiman: Regarding on-the-job training programs, a tool that many companies use, also to skill internally or re-skill- how do you think this brings benefits to companies? In terms of finding new talents in workers, reducing hiring costs, increasing productivity and staff retention... In your experience, how does reskilling benefit companies?

Jorge Figueroa: It is a benefit at present, but it's surely going to be a must, because today what we're seeing is that we receive people who are going to work for other organizations, and we add training, an induction, an adjustment for specific positions, for specific knowledge. And there's a mix of 80% of what they bring themselves and 20% is a layer that we add. I think the future is going to reverse that mix, because the speed of how knowledge changes will require companies to give more time to training, more investment to stay competitive and above all, to retain talent. Because today the new generations, like millennials, greatly appreciate the companies that support their career development, that give them benefits when it comes to their own growth.

Diego Bekerman: You mentioned on-the-job training programs – I think it's a very interesting opportunity to bring in people with skills, with learning skills above all, and allow them to find their vocation, find where they feel they can have an impact. At the same time, it allows companies to find that cultural fit that we often talk about, and provide those talents with tools and skills that allow them to develop a career in that same company, or insert themselves into the world of work in any other company. Today, we work a lot on this ecosystem model and I think we have to motivate companies to implement these kind of programs, so that more young people gain experience, acquire skills, and become part of that ecosystem, generating more growth and social integration as well.

Cecilia Sleiman: Speaking of involving and motivating this ecosystem of companies to carry out internships and training programs, what strategies do you use? Both Microsoft and those of Randstad’s use to explain the benefits that implementing these practices brings to the workforce. What advice would you also give to other companies that want to get involved in this?

Diego Bekerman: The first piece of advice I would give companies is the importance of understanding what kind of skills they're going to need today and especially what kind of skills they're going to need in the future. What kind of teams do they want to form? What are the pillars of their culture? And design strategies based on that.

I’ll share with you some of our experiences and those of our ecosystem. The first is that today anyone at Microsoft, and I myself included, we are studying to become more technically knowledgeable about the technology we sell or implement, because we believe that this allows us to better understand a customer's problem, what they are looking for, and at the same time how to propose the right solution. Today, probably all Microsoft employees worldwide are investing on average about twenty hours a month, on reskilling themselves - whether it's to continue looking for growth opportunities, which are part of our development plan, or to stay updated.

A second example, are on-the-job training opportunities to help young people acquire skills - and there we interact a lot with local governments, with our ecosystem of partners, which are over 17 million worldwide and 150 thousand in Argentina, to reach young people. We have interesting plans for example, with young mothers who had another profession and based on a 200-hour curriculum have been reskilled in soft skills and hard skills. And as Jorge said before about STEM, to be part of the Argentine ecosystem of the knowledge industry. So, I think that's part of our dual role, to stay current and at the same time, to have a concrete impact on society, creating more jobs and giving people more opportunities to reskill or train to acquire their first job.

Cecilia Sleiman: Jorge, I am also interested in your answer, because together with GAN Argentina we are conducting a study of Return on Investment on these topics and I would like you to comment briefly to see what your vision of that project is.

Jorge Figueroa: In this whole process of profound change, there's obviously an additional challenge: not to leave anyone behind. In line with SDG 8 on formal work and economic development of people, is that internally we do all the training through e-learning platforms. We are even involved in changing the selection process, because it was based on the candidate’s background. But from now on, the challenge will be to discover these abilities to learn, as Diego said, that ability to have the curiosity to grow, to know, to see what is new.

And in our environment, we try to impact those people who are more vulnerable and have more difficulty accessing the labor market. To that end, we set up a public-private project with CeDEL Government of the City of Buenos Aires, in a neighborhood that is undergoing an urbanization process. We set ourselves as a value link in the relationship between the supply and the demand for work.

People need an opportunity that opens that door into companies, and companies need to cover vacancies and talent. And the candidates in this particular case are discriminated against by place of residence. So what we offer is training, through the “My First Job” workshop, which includes CV development, simulated interviews, and specific training in trade marketing. We give employability skills so that these candidates can then find a formal, decent, inclusive job, which will give them the possibility afterwards of becoming self-employed and looking for work on their own.

We are currently doing research together with GAN, to measure what the impact of this investment is, and to assess how the 45 or 42 companies that are working on this system value the people who have entered these companies from that neighborhood.

Cecilia Sleiman: Thank you very much. And, Diego, with regard to the program that you mentioned about women mothers and inclusion in the knowledge industry, what would you say are the benefits of that investment for companies?

Diego Bekerman: I think this program that we call Azurduy, which is the result of the collaboration of many companies with the global EIDOS Foundation, is a learning opportunity for the participating companies. The first version that we did, had a hundred hours of curriculum. And the second one, two hundred hours, because we were able to better understand how to impact a mother who maybe was teaching at a school, or doing pottery, or had simply chosen to be a housewife and today she wants to go back into the workforce.

We help them not only with hard skills, which was what companies often asked us to do, but also through conflict resolution workshops, negotiation skills, teamwork. Today, when you talk to those who have found employment and feel that they have more impact and are growing in large relevant companies here in Argentina, it has more to do with the soft skills, than with the hard skills they were able to acquire through this process. And the combination of remote and face-to-face training, because it allows them to advance through the curriculum remotely at their own pace, but at the same time, learn from others.

Cecilia Sleiman: Well, for my part, I've already met my expectations for this podcast episode. I wanted to ask you if you’d like to add anything else.

Jorge Figueroa: Well, I think we have a big challenge ahead of us which is how we rescue all those people who have a major knowledge gap, but also in Argentina regarding issues that have to do with soft skills: work culture, discipline, punctuality, etc. Because we need to develop that human capital so we can think about economic development.

Diego Bekerman: I think that if we take advantage of the opportunity that we have, the potential for growth is infinite. The way to get it right is to help people find where and how they can grow and to promote a culture of lifelong learning. Technology amplifies human capacity. If we know how to understand the logic of technology and how it positively impacts us, we will have more tools to be more relevant, but above all, have more impact on the communities in which we are and generate growth in the future.

Cecilia Sleiman: Thank you both for your time and for your ideas.

Diego Bekerman: Thank you very much.

Jorge Figueroa: Thank you.