In January 2021, the World Economic Forum released a report on upskilling for shared prosperity. It was a call to action stating that closing the skills gap could add up between $5-6.5 trillion USD to global GDP by 2030.
Now more than ever, the learning and development function is critical to companies who want to develop organization-wide data literacy. This May, DataCamp hosted a panel discussion with Kerrie O’Sullivan, EMEA Training Manager, and Sheil Naik, Senior Technical Trainer from the Bloomberg Global Data Team, alongside Marcus Robertson, Global Curriculum Lead at NatWest Group, to discuss the state of L&D for data-driven organizations, best practices designing digital-first learning experiences, and how they foster a learning culture in their organizations.
In the panel discussion, two broad themes emerged. One on the strategic importance of L&D when providing organizations insights on skill (and data skills) transformation, and second on best practices for operationalizing data skill transformation. Here are some key takeaways from the panel:
The strategic importance of learning and development
On the role L&D plays in the organization — The panel highlighted how learning and development teams can drive the skills transformation vision throughout the organization. This includes collaborating with business groups to provide guidance and thought leadership on the skills of the future, and designing learning environments that are flexible and equitable to all learners. This is especially important as jobs are quickly transforming, and organizations and communities are starting to engage in what can be considered the biggest reskilling and upskilling programs we’ve seen in decades.
The role that data skills play in upskilling and reskilling efforts — Data skills sit amongst the top key competencies to upskill and reskill on for L&D leaders on the panel. For example at both Bloomberg and NatWest, these skills can range from upskilling on Python, SQL, and business intelligence tools, to data literacy and understanding where to access data and how to make sense of it. It’s important to note that, data skills are a methodology for solving business problems, so it’s highly important that data skills are injected into already existing subject matter expertise. These data skills whether conceptual or technical, allow subject matter experts to break down organizational siloes by becoming conversational with data experts or creating analysis for themselves.
How building and sustaining data skills is different from other skills — Since data skills are relatively nascent and can be daunting at first, creating a narrative for data upskilling to ensure learners are excited about what they can achieve with data is a prerequisite to foster data skills. Moreover, as organizations upskill on data, there are various roles with differing data literacy that need to interact with data. As such both Bloomberg and NatWest rolled out learning programs that emphasize what is possible to achieve with data and how to integrate data into daily work. Marcus highlighted the importance of providing a safe installation-free environment for experiential learning on technical tools like Python and R such as DataCamp. Interestingly, since data skills are technically oriented and are applied with tools such as Jupyter Notebooks and IDEs, the impact of learning outcomes is more easily measurable than other skills. An example could be drawn from how Sheil leveraged data analysis with Python, to analyze the effectiveness of his blended learning program on data analysis with Python, which uses DataCamp for foundational material alongside in-house training delivered and administered by Sheil.
Best practices for operationalizing data skill transformation
The switch to a digital-first L&D function — Like most teams and organizations, both Bloomberg and NatWest L&D teams transitioned to a digital workplace throughout 2020. For example for Bloomberg, this meant redesigning data upskilling programs to be digital-first by making them shorter, more interactive, and by encouraging learners to interact with experts within the organization. Moreover, transitioning to digital meant the breaking down of barriers between regional L&D teams and their learners within both organizations. This means regional L&D teams sharing best practices and the development of a culturally richer training experience for facilitators and learners alike.
Best practices creating a learning culture — A key theme mentioned throughout the panel is the importance of senior leadership when galvanizing excitement around learning. While this includes senior executive sponsorship for data upskilling, it also includes middle-management having conversations with direct reports around their upskilling opportunities and what that means for their teams. Marcus mentioned that a balancing act middle-managers face is that they are asked to deliver results, while also facilitating the skills development of their team. A key point to get across, however, is that teams can only deliver results if they develop their skills. Moreover, Kerrie highlighted the importance of promoting and providing structured training programs that are discoverable, paced, and clearly, articulate learning outcomes, can jumpstart the conversation, and create excitement around learning.
This only scratches the surface of what was covered in the panel — in the on-demand recording, Sheil, Kerrie, and Marcus deep-dive into best practices aligning business objectives with learning outcomes, how to conduct a thorough needs analysis for skills, how they envision L&D programs will be affected by the return to the office, and more. Make sure to register to catch it all.
Learn more about DataCamp for Business:
DataCamp for Business provides an interactive learning platform for companies that need to upskill and reskill their people on data skills. With topics ranging from data literacy, and data science to data engineering and machine learning, over 1,600 companies trust DataCamp for Business to upskill their talent.