In the period 2022–2023, the NVL Digital – Working Life network had a focus on digitalization in small and medium-sized enterprises, and an interest in how new digital competences come to emerge in the manufacturing industries, with a focus on the skilled and unskilled employees.
The report “The Role of Lifelong Learning for Inclusion in the Digital Transformation: Work Life of Tomorrow” explores the ways in which digitalisation is unfolding and organising working life, and how new learning practices can meet new opportunities and challenges.
The main finding from the report is that any digital transformation process shapes and is shaped by the concrete organisational practices of which it is a part. This means that the transformation is influenced by many factors that unfold empirically.
Furthermore, another finding is that digital technologies are just one of several actors that are helping to reorganise work and change the role and thus the professional identity of individual employees. Therefore, learning initiatives cannot only prioritise digital upskilling in digital competence development but must also involve professional experiences and insights possessed by the individual employee as a resource in the transformation.
Need for strategic competence development and competence planning
The report “The Role of Lifelong Learning for Inclusion in the Digital Transformation: Work Life of Tomorrow” presents five recommendations that are the result of the research.
Iðan Education Centre invited Dr Tryggvi Thayer from the University of Iceland to reflect on these recommendations.
See Dr Tryggvi Thayer’s analysis in the video podcast here
The video podcast interprets the recommendations of the report within organisational and workplace contexts. The video podcast reinforces the need for strategic competence development and competence planning within different sectors and types of businesses. It also “takes the recommendations one step further” pointing at the need to look for and analyse possible future scenarios and possible future competence contexts following these scenarios.
The report recommendations, in particular recommendation 4, emphasize the necessity of including employees’ competence in the planning, preparation, and implementation of major changes at workplaces – co-creation and cooperation are necessary to meet changes.
In the video podcast, Dr Thayer highlights the importance of being aware of how the changes may affect the employees, especially when their professional integrity and identity are at stake.
The criticism about the fact that it is rather unrealistic to use “timely slowness” is appropriate. It is a dilemma that on one hand involvement takes time and on the other hand, the changes within digital development happen quickly. Thus, the report and the video podcast together make a good frame for discussions and development work within companies and education organisations.
Read the report online here.