Self-study

How to turbo-boost your upskilling with active learning – FM | Financial Management

Summary

As machines and algorithms continue to modify many traditional accounting and finance roles, professionals are under increasing pressure to learn new skills and embrace the concepts of continuous and active learning. In the wake of the global pandemic, which rapidly accelerated digitisation, the pressure to reskill or upskill is palpable across industries and sectors.

According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2020, 94% of business leaders now expect employees …….

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As machines and algorithms continue to modify many traditional accounting and finance roles, professionals are under increasing pressure to learn new skills and embrace the concepts of continuous and active learning. In the wake of the global pandemic, which rapidly accelerated digitisation, the pressure to reskill or upskill is palpable across industries and sectors.

According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2020, 94% of business leaders now expect employees to pick up new skills on the job. Apart from the technical reskilling, the report notes that employers are placing increasing importance on self-management skills with the emphasis on active learning, resilience, and flexibility.

Yet for many professionals and business leaders, the concept of active learning is unclear — not to mention the actual strategies that differentiate active learning from more traditional approaches.

“Active learning is learning by doing, and it’s a dynamic approach that combines theory with real-world applications using the likes of articles, case studies, formative assessments, discussions, and debates,” said Sanlie Middelberg, FCMA, CGMA, Ph.D., professor of management accounting at North-West University in South Africa. “This approach to learning prepares students and professionals to apply theory to any situation or circumstance and to be flexible and adaptive when under pressure in the workplace.”

According to Giancarlo Brotto, global education adviser for SMART Technologies and co-founder of Catalyst, a community for leaders looking to crowdsource solutions to education’s biggest challenges, the spirit and core principle of active learning can be encapsulated by asking: How can I get my brain activated?

“This activation element is often what is missing from many of the online courses offered to professionals, which is why you see high attrition rates, with less than 20% of people actually completing self-directed learning courses,” he said.

For Mathetha Bopape, ACMA, CGMA, strategy associate at Old Mutual Specialised Finance in South Africa, continuous and active learning has been a key priority since joining the organisation.

“Unlearning and relearning new skills has been the order of the day pre-pandemic, and I knew, being a finance professional, that employers would use this time to reimagine how they ran their companies and, for some, even go as far as restructuring,” she said. “For instance, I’ve recently taken an online short course in design thinking, because we are now in a design thinking world in which we’re constantly reimagining how to best solve new and complex problems.”

Bopape applies the principles of active learning to all her online short courses, an endeavour that she said is supported by her company, which provides the courses and tracks the progress of employees.

“As it’s all online, leaders are able to see that you’ve shown foresight and taken charge of your own learning,” she explained.

At a practical level, active or self-directed learning can be broken down into four key components, namely: