ALESSANDRA DI COSMO
By the Editorial staff
In December 2020 you launched an extraordinary training plan for all your employees. Why this choice? What does "skill transformation" mean for Vodafone?
Over the past year, Vodafone Italia has accelerated its focus on digital skills, and in December launched a very ambitious plan open to all of its 6,000 employees, to invest in the skills of the future. We were the first large company in Italy to access ANPAL’s New Skills Fund, which allowed us to offer everyone a plan for over 300,000 hours of training over three months. But this initiative is part of a broader and long-standing path: we have been investing in skill transformation since 2018, investing for years to build the professional skills of the future by enhancing and regenerating people’s skills. Now the strong push towards digitalisation, further accelerated by the pandemic, has created marked discontinuity in the labour market, radically changing the roles and skills needed in the future. The transformation and upgrading of skills is and will be increasingly crucial for people: it is expected that in the future skills will evolve so rapidly that we will spend 50% of our time at work on training courses, which will be necessary to be able to do our jobs in the remaining 50% of the time. To date, the entire organisation has been involved in a course on basic digital skills, a sort of “digital citizenship” course for all, covering the main digital trends, the main emerging technologies (AI, Iot, Cloud, Blockchain...), a focus on the future of work with the aim of providing people with tools and approaches that allow them to actively experience the digital transformation of work, etc. Particular attention was paid to so-called “agile working” from both a methodological and cultural point of view. We did this by guaranteeing people a certain amount of protected time to devote to training, the training days, which involved the entire organisation, during which "live" speeches were held with the protagonists of the digital transformation that over 3000 people participated in at the same time. The training course used an innovative format: a mix of content in different formats (videos, articles, video interviews, podcasts) from accredited sources (Polimi, HBR, McKinsey, Gartner, Bocconi).
What response did you get from people? How much of themselves did they put into this new proposal (in the broad sense) that was made to them?
The participation was extraordinary: over 95% of employees took part in each day, and over 3,000 people took part in the live events at the same time, which generated an extraordinary sense of closeness after so many months of smart working. The high level of engagement with the project shows that people have understood its importance and the company’s commitment to building our future together. In some cases, participation also led to the spontaneous co-creation of the training course: in fact, people began to spontaneously suggest content for subsequent training days. Our six-monthly survey also gained a high percentage of positive comments on the recent Training Days experience, which was appreciated not only because of its content and format, but also as a concrete sign of investment in innovation and differentiation that also brings with it a strong sense of pride and belonging.
How strong is the link between Inclusion and Learning & Development and what does it mean?
Vodafone has always stood out because of how much it values diversity and inclusion and thanks to its commitment to its people. The relationship between Inclusion and Learning & Development is very strong. In order to build an inclusive organisation, it is necessary to evolve the culture of a company and its values, starting with the leadership model. We need leaders who are clear on the fact that teams that are an expression of diversity in terms of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity and ability are the most innovative, creative and effective teams. In a word, the ones that perform best. Diversity is an opportunity to bring more value to the company’s business, not an HR policy. In addition, we need leaders who embrace diversity, who value everyone’s talent and put it in the right place. We are living in the age of the internet, of the network, of collective intelligence: we need leaders who are capable of skilfully orchestrating everyone’s skills and talents, through listening, empathy and empowerment. Leaders who are role models of an inclusive culture, and who are an example to young people first and foremost. In this context, Learning & Development today means taking care of people’s futures, investing in developing their skills, and initiating knowledge-sharing processes that are self-regulating and self-feeding. A sense of collective leadership over our performance and our ability to transform ourselves is at the heart of the success of this skills renewal approach. On the other hand, we know that organisations do not change by themselves, it is people who change. It is people who move organisations towards the future.