Posted: 24 Feb. 2021 8 min. read

Digital transformation

Transforming learning to develop capabilities in the digital age

Emerging technology is reshaping the world of work, including the kind of jobs and the varying skills required. To keep up with the pace of change in the digital age, reskilling workforce and developing capabilities are need of the hour.

With the addition of the ongoing global health crisis to the fourth industrial revolution which was underway, organizations have had to fundamentally rethink aspects entailing the future of work. These include not just the training aspects of reskilling, but also the types of people and skills they will hire for. 

A change in the dynamics of hiring is likely to have a cascading effect across the talent model. For example, the way in which new professionals are now being onboarded, there is not just the virtual aspect involved, but also, and more importantly, there is a gradual change underway in the types of activities and focus areas during onboarding. As a result, the impact of the change is also being felt across the employee lifecycle as the new professionals carry that experience forward with them.

With organizations shifting their focus to adapt their systems to a digital environment, it is leading to a rising need for existing talent across organizations to focus their efforts on continuous learning, reskilling, and upskilling. As talent acquires the needed digital skill set, it may not seem sustainable without focusing their efforts towards imbibing a growth mindset, i.e. a mindset that allows talent to start forming capabilities, besides enhancing skills. This will enable existing talent across organizations to better adapt to the digital environment such that:

  • Talent can be better prepared to endure and keep up with the changing needs and skills.
  • Businesses can benefit from a sustainable way of finding the talent they need for future needs.

A rising alternative to traditional degree education

It is true that the rapidly decreasing half-life of skills is leading to an increasing emphasis on reskilling. Combine this with the changing dynamics of workforce and nature of work, and that gives way to a growing acceptance of micro-credentials and credit-based learning.

These routes serve the purpose of delivering bite-sized learning, available anywhere, anytime, thereby reducing the sole dependency on traditional degree education. 

In the changing landscape of work, workforce and workplace, organizations are now increasingly promoting bite-sized learning—by leveraging the current open source platforms that are available in the learning space—among the existing pool of talent. And professionals across various career levels are now showing more interest in learning on-the-go.

In this context, business is looking to collaborate with educational institutions for an ongoing dialogue, such that:

  • Businesses can share insights of the changing landscape with educational institutions.
  • And educational institutions can in turn, adapt their curriculum and strategy, and shift educators’ focus to serve the needs of the changing business landscape.

Reshaping models for learning transformation

The question that follows is, how can institutions look at reshaping their learning models and approaches to classroom learning.

When it comes to digital transformation, we see that it is as much a people challenge, as it is a technology challenge. In the learning space, usually humans think of technology, in some ways, as a substitute for face to face learning. In this regard, it is important to understand that leveraging technology for distance (virtual) learning, is one way to enable learning; when you combine this with face to face learning as a complimentary path, a whole new world of opportunities opens up for an impactful blended learning experience.

Serving as the backbone of a holistic learning experience are learning models, where learning extends beyond the purview of content. We notice that learning happens in multiple ways—via application, experience, reflection, and even coaching. When lifelong learning is integrated into the flow of work and life, it can serve as a vital step in the process of learning transformation. 

In this direction, the new national education policy aligns the Indian higher education landscape to the future of learning.

Tapping into a diverse talent pool

So, it is not just the focus on skills that needs to be revisited and molded through lifelong learning, but it is also about focusing on the types of people that businesses are tapping into as potential candidates. 

Ode to the ongoing health crisis, there’s been an increase in the different types of hiring—from freelancers to gig workers, with an attempt to bring in more women into the workforce. This is, in part, led by a changing outlook towards the nature of work, where work can now be divided into various parts, such that some elements of work can be done offline or from home, thereby allowing more flexibility to professionals.

In summary

The future of learning is likely to be experiential and revolve more around work-integrated learning. The spectrum of learners is going to vary over a broader range of age, experiences and learning requirements. While the current landscape offers a plethora of opportunities via the various platforms available, any organization aiming to stand out—in this space of catering to the learning needs of this spectrum of learners—will most likely be able to create an impact through the customized experience it delivers to these learners.

With the nature of work changing in the digital age, it is important to note that the pandemic served as a wake-up call for businesses and higher education institutions to make the necessary changes to adapt to a digital environment at an accelerated pace. 

In that direction, when we consider what it takes to “be digital”, we notice that it engulfs a digital transformation. And the activities in any digital transformation are enabled by people first. For people to enable these activities sustainably, the need of the hour is to develop enduring human capabilities, which go beyond reskilling and upskilling. 

While the new normal during the 1st year of the pandemic evolved so rapidly into a scenario most had not imagined, the new normal post-vaccination is equally likely to be quite different from anything we may have yet seen or experienced. 

With that in mind, as organizations undertake the path toward digital transformation, let’s aim to ensure the process is not a short-term goal to be ticked off on a checklist. Treating the transformation as a catalyst on a journey to be more future-ready and robust in a systemic way, is sure to help organizations respond faster to the marketplace, as they discover new ways of functioning. At the same time, this will help carve a path to a more sustainable and mutually beneficial academia-industry collaboration, thereby truly paving the way for a futuristic transformation.

Learn more

Explore the in-depth article on Deloitte Insights to know more about how COVID-19 rattled India’s higher education but also opened myriad opportunities.

About Deloitte’s Deans Summit:

Deloitte’s marquee event, Deans Summit by Deloitte India (Offices of the US), shifted gears to keep up with the changing times in 2020. Where virtual connects are the norm now, they became instrumental in supporting us to see what was possible, as we continued to make an impact that matters with our cohort of deans, directors and principals from some of India’s top colleges and universities. 

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