2021-06-24

Fast learners

Woman working, writing notes

Ongoing learning and development is one of the cornerstones of our diversity strategy. Claudia Rais, Director Learning Transformation, and Kristian Åsberg, Director Learning and Organisation, explain how we were able to continue offering opportunities to colleagues throughout the COVID-19 pandemic by accelerating our shift to virtual learning. 

Claudia: “The big learning story for 2020 was the new leadership curriculum. We had intended to deliver a large portion of it digitally, with some face-to-face components for management teams. Luckily, we had already invested in the new Learning Platform by the time the pandemic hit, so were able to switch to digital delivery for all components with minimal delays.

“In fact, the Learning Platform was always intended as the starting-point for a much longer-term change to the way we deliver learning, moving from the old model, where you might fly in for an intensive two-week course, to a more sustainable learner-directed way of including personalised learning, exploration, journeys and collaboration. 

“The Learning Platform can host a huge variety of content and enables the user to direct their own learning according to their areas of interest. It’s part of a move away from employees doing the minimum mandated training towards having individuals who are enthused and engaged to take ownership of their own learning. The Learning Platform will suggest content based on your goals and interests, and there will also be learning groups and communities who can learn from each other, with support from subject-matter experts from the business and learning professionals. Of course, some learning (such as compliance training) will still be mandatory, but overall we expect learners to follow their own personal journey. 

“Moving the entire leadership curriculum onto the Learning Platform certainly helped to speed up this journey. It was great to see that after the leadership programmes there was a good take-up of optional modules around sustainability and other topics. As more people use the Learning Platform and more portfolios develop content it can host, we expect to see self-directed learning really take off.”

Kristian: “It was fortunate that we had a strong learning infrastructure in place before COVID-19 disrupted our plans for 2020 delivery. As well as having pre-installed the Learning Platform, we had signed up to use digital training assets from LinkedIn and had also invested heavily in ‘train the trainer’ courses. Because of these strengths, we were able to respond quickly and minimise disruption to learning. 

“When the pandemic hit, we were in the early stages of digitalising learning, so along with close to 600 instructor-led courses, 300 learning programmes and certifications we had around 500 e-learning modules designed to complement them. At first, everyone assumed this would be a brief period of disruption, so it made sense to take short-term measures just to stay on schedule – delivering instructor-led learning via Webex, for example. As it became clear that things were not going back to normal any time soon, we realised this could be a real moment of opportunity to change the mindset around training.

“So, we had a real push to move delivery online through self-paced e-learning modules and also through virtual learning, where you learn and collaborate with others and have an instructor to guide you in real time. This required a massive and extremely fast upskilling of our instructors and co-hosts.

“Traditional instructor-led training in a classroom is very much about learners responding to the instructor as a specialist. When you deliver training virtually, the dynamics are completely different, and the demands placed on the instructor are far greater. This type of learning takes longer to prepare and often needs a co-host or facilitator during the session. Virtual training also has more impact for learners if it is spread out as shorter sessions over a longer period. People learning or instructing from their home environment can also present challenges.

“Of course, for some types of training, there’s no real long-term substitute for classroom learning. We plan to retain virtual training for around two-thirds of our portfolio and revert to classroom training for the remaining third. While we did manage to deliver some service engineer and lab training virtually during lockdown, for skills involving muscle memory and for colleagues working on , uniquely customised machinery, for now there’s no satisfactory substitute for hands-on training. It’s also something many customers require – hence the decision of some to take Tetra Pak service engineers into their ‘bubbles’ during the pandemic."

“Over the past year, we’ve gone from 0% to 90% virtual delivery for the instructor-led courses prioritised by the business. Now we have an opportunity to build on this and to actually design content for virtual delivery. The pandemic has dramatically increased  acceptance of virtual training and we are now in a position to drive through this change to emerge with a sustainable hybrid system of learning and development.”