In the digital transformation journey of businesses, one of the critical success factors that is drawing significant attention is with respect to the capabilities of the workforce. Organisations are in the midst of rethinking the roles and the new competency matrix that would be pertinent to meet the requirements of the conducting business in the digital era. They also recognise the urgent need to retool and reskill the existing workforce and bring on board talent with new capabilities. While new training programmes are being drawn up and experts being identified to deliver these programmes, it is equally important to rethink the assessment methods. Most businesses use pre and post assessment tools available through automated systems to support this process.
The current approaches to assessment is predominantly based on how much learning has taken place and the delta learning that has occurred during the course of the training duration is considered as the outcome of the training programme. This indeed is an important measure of the training efforts but it is important to consider the new set of capabilities organisations are expecting from their workforce as part of their digital transformation journey. In order to keep pace with the new technologies, we now require new digital capabilities including new skills in reading, interaction with technologies and online searching. We need new technical expertise depending upon the roles being performed by the individuals.
Apart from all of these, organisations are giving greater emphasis to skills and attributes that are required to adapt to the digital phenomenon and be able to get digital technologies deliver the best for their businesses. In order to develop new assessment tools and techniques, organisations need to consider whether competencies such as creative thinking and problem solving would be generic or contextualised to the business they are part of. Assessment methods that are mostly prevalent today are aimed at testing the mastery of curriculum. We now need tools that not just measure learning outcomes but enable us to understand how learning takes place.
Further direct observations or alternate tools are required for assessment of learners’ performances in complex situations, problem solving in real life situations, taking classroom concepts to application, creating new solutions using innovative technologies and communicating with others. Competencies such as critical thinking, self-management and collaborative problem solving require long-term development and therefore assessment tools that seamlessly track the learning evolution of the individuals over a longer period of time would also be necessary.
It is the confluence of technical, psychometric and pedagogical innovations that would lead to the transformational approach to make assessments contemporary to the training needs of the businesses. Many organisations have started adopting adaptive learning, continuous feedback and personalised assessment supported by customised learning ecosystem and are moving towards adopting virtual reality, artificial intelligence, analytics and machine learning in various ways to make the learning-assessment engine more robust.
Assessments need not be at predefined intervals alone, they could be real time as part of the employees’ workflow and thus could become ‘invisible’ to the learning process as it would be possible to collect data on their performance on the job. If Amazon and other retailers can use behavioural technology for making suggestions to customers on what additional purchase they could consider based on their previous purchase patterns, the next generation assessment engine should be capable of mapping cognitive learning parameters and tapping into dataflows of various transactions. This could help direct employees’ attention to the areas that require their attention and what they need to learn to address these gaps.
The writer is CEO, Global Talent Track, a corporate training solutions company