Learning should be pervasive and compelling

Mobile technology and gamification are the effective ways of putting content in the hands of people seeking to learn. It makes learning content pervasive, interesting and compelling

I have always worked in capital intensive industries. I began working in the steel business, a company that stocked hundreds of thousands of tonnes of steel around the globe, then went on to work for a cargo carrier and then for a container shipping line.

The captains of industry who run such companies are (only) able to justify the tremendous investments in fixed assets by offsetting the cost against future revenues. They estimate what that aircraft or container ship will earn in revenue over a twenty year period and are thus able to justify its expense today. The calculations are made on the basis of a future output value.

What has always amazed me about the same capital industries is that when it comes to people, considerations are made on the basis of input cost. How much is this person costing me today, and how much more is that than what he or she cost me last year? Calculations are seldom made on the basis of the output that a person could generate for the company.

When it comes to calculating the cost – benefit of training people therefore we seldom think in terms of the improved output that someone could generate. In India especially we reach back to the age – old solution: throw more people at the problem.

That solution unfortunately will no longer work, for a number of reasons:

  1. Throwing more people at a problem more often than not makes the problem worse, not better
  2. Salaries are going up and so doubling your headcount is no longer cost neutral, even relative to the value of goods sold
  3. The people who are worth having, those with the right brains, skills and education have multiple choices. They are no longer obliged to accept the first job that comes along
  4. As an industry logistics, shipping and transportation is not viewed as being attractive. We have to compete with industries such as finance, fintech, media, IT and people’s own startups that are viewed as being significantly more attractive

There is a very real need, now more than ever, to train people who wish to work in our industry, or to put it differently, to train them so that they may wish to work in our industry.

The method of training is undergoing a major shift in terms of approach. We are targeting one of the most impatient if not irrepressible generations ever. This generation now entering the workforce will not wait patiently to be sent for a two day training after five or ten years of good service. They want the skills and knowledge needed to move ahead in their careers now. They are already able to access sources of knowledge across the globe.

Combine that with the fact that they also have every distraction ever known or unknown to mankind being thrown at them on mobile devices and streaming services and you will appreciate why finding the right way to capture and retain their attention is key.

Mobile technology is one of the ways that content can be put in the hands of people seeking the skills needed to work in an industry. Companies such as my own company 21CC Education combine mobile technology and gamification to make learning content so pervasive, interesting and compelling that the learner doesn’t necessarily know that they’re learning!

As business leaders and managers we need to realize that we are all engaged in a very real race for talent and that it’s incumbent upon us to create and widen that pool of talent, even in a country of 1.3 billion people. Our ability to access the right people and bring them up to the right level of knowledge as soon as possible will determine our future share of the rapidly growing Indian economy. Exciting times ahead!