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Accenture report calls on Canadian firms to adopt ‘smart learning systems’

April 22, 2015  

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Canadian companies must act to take greater advantage of new technologies to deliver better workplace education and training, and to drive competitiveness and productivity, according to a new report by Accenture in collaboration with the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE).

Increasing the Return on Talent Development for Canadian Companies was developed as part of a multi-year CCCE initiative on jobs and skills for the 21st century which, in part, encourages Canadian employers to prioritize workplace learning and development to drive competitiveness.

“This report is a call to action for Canadian companies to strive for better outcomes when training employees, and underscores the critical importance of spending training dollars wisely,” said Danielle Francis, Human Capital lead for Financial Services at Accenture in Canada.

The report calls on more employers to consider the advantages of innovative “smart learning systems” that provide access to knowledge, anytime and anywhere. Often, these methods are more effective than classroom-based training while also costing less on a per-employee basis.

The report found that Canadian firms are at different levels of maturity when it comes to talent development capabilities. Some companies rely on traditional and relatively costly classroom-based instruction, while others are deploying advanced learning strategies that involve a combination of in-person and technology-based training.

“The payoff for these more advanced strategies is improved talent development capabilities and a greater return on investment and stronger workforce performance, which in turn generates higher levels of innovation and productivity in Canada,” said Francis. “In the end, it’s not only about how much you spend on training, but what you get from that investment.”

In addition to online courses, examples of innovative workplace learning and development systems include: mobile technologies that permit access to information through smartphones and tablets; social media platforms that offer peer and self-help support; and “micro learning” systems that provide employees with concise explanations and just-in-time instruction instead of requiring them to take a full-blown course.

The report was based in part on interviews with a range of CCCE member companies that have adopted innovative workplace learning technologies and approaches. They include Bell, BHP Billiton, CIBC, Enbridge, Loblaw, National Bank, Suncor, TD Bank, TELUS and RBC, as well as Accenture itself.

“When it comes to training and development, and building talent, there is no shortage of investment in Canada,” said Neil Hunter, director of Learning and Capability at Suncor. “The key is to sustain these great investments and ideas over a longer period of time, and to sustain the skill sets within Canadian organizations, to help ensure competitiveness and high productivity for generations to come.”


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