HomeEducationInterview: Skillsoft CTO Apratim Purakayastha On Industry-Relevant Personalized Learning

Interview: Skillsoft CTO Apratim Purakayastha On Industry-Relevant Personalized Learning

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In an interview with TechGraph, Apratim Purakayastha, Chief Product and Technology Officer (CPTO) at Skillsoft spoke about how the organization ensures its course offerings are relevant and customized for different organizations to upskill their workforce.

Read the complete interview:

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TechGraph: The workplace landscape has evolved significantly over the past few years, with emerging technologies and changing business demands. How does Skillsoft envision the future of corporate learning to address these shifts effectively, and what strategies are in place to keep up with this dynamic environment?

Apratim Purakayastha: The pace of change and the need for talent are outpacing our hiring capabilities. Training internal employees has become a key part of any business transformation. We at Skillsoft believe corporate learning should become a holistic approach that combines agility, digitalization, and personalized learning experiences.

Additionally, organizations should implement strategies that prioritize upskilling and reskilling, embrace emerging technologies like AI and immersive learning, and cultivate a culture that celebrates learning as a strategic advantage. By doing so, corporate learning becomes not just a response to change but a driving force behind it.

TechGraph: In an era where employee skills can quickly become obsolete, continuous upskilling and reskilling are becoming vital for companies to remain competitive. Could you share how Skillsoft is assisting organizations in building a culture of lifelong learning and what innovative approaches you’ve implemented to engage employees in the upskilling process?

Apratim Purakayastha: We take a customer-centric approach to this problem. We solve business problems like “How do we train 10,000 data center technicians to be cloud engineers?”, “How do we make 3,000 customer service efficient using AI in their day-to-day job?” or “How do we train first-line managers to manage growth?”

Skillsoft helps organizations foster a culture of lifelong learning through leadership and business skills learning solutions. With a wide range of learning modalities (e.g., video, e-book, in-person) and translations into more than 30 languages, learners can use predefined Aspire Journeys to map out personalized learning plans that help them become more effective and inspirational leaders. Skillsoft also offers one of the world’s largest libraries in technology training, including hands-on learning like labs and coding. Skillsoft offers compliance solutions aimed at changing the company culture.

The learning experience is delivered through Skillsoft’s personalized intelligent learning platform Percipio. It is an engaging platform with personalization, recommendations, multi-modality, and gamification which promotes a culture of learning by making it enjoyable.

TechGraph: Remote work and distributed teams have become the new norm for many organizations. How has Skillsoft adapted its corporate learning solutions to cater to the unique needs and challenges faced by remote employees?

Apratim Purakayastha: Skillsoft’s vast learning content is available on-demand worldwide as small microlearning assets. Remote employees can log in anytime from anywhere. The mobile learning experience for Percipio is rated world-class, allowing remote employees mobile and tablet access as needed.

Skillsoft has released specific content to train virtual employees about best practices, safety, and security. Skillsoft has introduced cultural sensitivity and DEI courses for a virtual global workforce. Moreover, Skillsoft integrates with Microsoft Teams and Viva so that learning becomes deeply collaborative.

TechGraph: The upskilling needs of various industries can vary significantly. How does Skillsoft ensure that its learning offerings are relevant and tailored to meet the specific requirements of different sectors and job roles?

Apratim Purakayastha: Firstly, Skillsoft offers content in technology, such as digital transformation or management skills, leadership, and business, that transcends many job roles in any company.

Skillsoft makes it easy for customers to add custom vertical content or licensed third-party training content to Percipio.

Apratim Purakayastha: Skillsoft has a deep discipline in managing its content library. It looks at the “currency” of content, not “recency”. For example, content on C++ and Java may not need to change every year, while Cloud content may need to change every six months.

We look at the nature, demand, and rate of industry change in a content area and use that information to drive our plan to refresh.

When Generative AI broke out in the public domain, Skillsoft and Codecademy released appropriate content within 8-12 weeks. Our content comes with assessments and benchmarks and provides for a completely curated learning experience rather than just videos.

TechGraph: One of the challenges in corporate learning is ensuring that employees apply the skills they acquire in their day-to-day roles. How does Skillsoft measure the effectiveness of its learning programs and ensure that the knowledge gained translates into tangible results for both employees and organizations?

Apratim Purakayastha: One of the ways Skillsoft ensures the knowledge gained translates to tangible results for employees and organizations is through pre- and post-assessments. The pre-assessments are called Skill Benchmarks. Using over 600 benchmarks in the platform, an employee can assess his skills quickly and get a personalized recommendation to address skill gaps regarding which courses to take. Benchmarks can be repeated every 30 days to measure progress.

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A post-assessment is a test that comes with every course or project that comes with an Aspire Journey.

For example, an organization has a cohort of IT professionals who need to upskill in DevOps. Skillsoft helps the organization to ensure that the training program has three components: concrete, objective ways to measure DevOps skill levels before the program starts using Skill Benchmarks; individualized learning paths based on skill levels for efficient skill development, and objective measurements after certain milestones are completed using course tests and capstone projects. By doing this, several indicators of success will include buoyed employee retention, a higher percentage of roles filled internally, and increased velocity of new projects staffed. These metrics can directly correlate to a bottom-line financial metric, enabling a concrete ROI calculation for the Skillsoft solution used.

TechGraph: Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have become essential aspects of modern workplaces. How does Skillsoft incorporate DEI principles into its corporate learning solutions to foster an inclusive environment and promote diverse perspectives?

Apratim Purakayastha: Skillsoft is deepening its commitment to customers and learners by offering a comprehensive DEI curriculum – Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Action. These courses are designed to be impactful, inspirational, and experiential to help customers and learners advance, nurture, and sustain a culture that appreciates and champions diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Skillsoft offers not only courses but many live LeaderCamps in this area with renowned experts. With our experts, we learn the facts and demystify DEI concepts. Through real stories, we inspire and empower each other. Through guided facilitation and discussion, we start to reflect and build new informed perspectives.

TechGraph: Artificial intelligence and machine learning are reshaping the future of work. How is Skillsoft leveraging these technologies within its learning platforms to personalize the learning experience and provide valuable insights to learners and organizations?

Apratim Purakayastha: At Skillsoft, we use AI to do several things that benefit users of our platform and users that access Skillsoft content through learning management system (LMS) integrations:

• Offer a comprehensive AI curriculum from Machine Learning to Analytical AI to Generative AI.

• Personalize learning for each user, helping them to progress faster.

• Improve search and discovery, making it easier for learners to find what they need.

• Link skills, roles, and learning together to guide career paths; and generate new content and curation, enabling users to assess their skills as they build confidence and understanding and to curate learning paths for trending topics automatically.

• Generate interactive and simulative experiences using Generative AI. We recently launched the beta of Skillsoft’s CAISY Conversation AI Simulator, an innovative generative AI-based tool for simulating business and leadership conversational skills.

TechGraph: Employee burnout and mental health concerns have been on the rise, especially during challenging times. How does Skillsoft address these well-being aspects within its learning programs and support employees in maintaining a healthy work-life balance while pursuing upskilling opportunities?

Apratim Purakayastha: Skillsoft has a comprehensive content library to support well-being, with courses in mental well-being, hybrid work environment, physical well-being, financial well-being, mindfulness at work, and meditation for wellness.

Additionally, Skillsoft partnered with GoodHabitz, a provider of online skills training and professional development based in the Netherlands, to provide customers and learners with an even more comprehensive content library to support mental health and well-being in the workplace, as well as a broad range of skills, including personal productivity, leadership development, and communication.

TechGraph: Lastly, as organizations strive to stay competitive, what advice can Skillsoft offer to companies looking to maximize the impact of their upskilling initiatives and build a future-proof workforce?

Apratim Purakayastha: Companies looking to future-proof their workforce must build a strong learning culture to define and develop the transformative skills that will allow them to retain top talent, upskill and reskill flexibly, and build a strong bench for succession. Investing in solutions to help all employees adapt effectively to change can provide a real competitive advantage in a challenging business environment.

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COP28 UAE: SANY Promotes Green Manufacturing Transformation, Takes Concrete Action to Tackle Climate Challenges

CHANGSHA, China, Nov. 23, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- SANY Group, ("SANY"), a globally leading enterprise of the high-end equipment manufacturing industry, is accentuating advancing sustainable development and the green manufacturing transformation of the heavy machinery industry, ahead of the COP28 UAE, that is set to take place from November 30 to December 12 in Dubai. The theme of the 13-day program this year is "Actionism," calling for people to rise to meet the climate change challenges.

The COP28 will center on four major paradigm shifts – namely accelerating the transition from fossil fuels, agreeing on climate finance shifts, emphasizing the role of people and nature in climate action, and ensuring the summit is an inclusive event that women, indigenous people, local communities, youth, countries and more can all be a part of.

SANY is responding actively and positively to the summit's agenda with concrete actions to promote the transformation of green manufacturing, bringing sustainable solutions to the industries of mining, construction, wind power, and more.

Taking green actions to build a sustainable future

SANY is vigorously expanding the use of green energy (renewables such as solar and wind) in production processes to reduce the reliance on traditional energy sources, lower carbon emissions, and support climate change actions. It has adopted multiple initiatives, especially in accelerating the R&D and application of wind energy, hydrogen, and electrification solutions, and achieved significant results.

SANY's subsidiary SANY Renewable Energy has been investing in and constructing wind farms to boost the proportion of wind power in the energy structure, through intelligent upgrades in manufacturing and creating intelligent workshops. By doing this, SANY Renewable Energy has reduced the overall unit energy consumption and carbon emissions by 15 percent compared to pre-upgrade.

In 2022, SANY has added more than 3,000 energy metering connections. SANY built China's first intelligent mixing station park and invested 3.22 million yuan in photovoltaic construction that will produce 900,000 kWh of power annually. The park will cut 887 tons of carbon emission, 242 tons of dust emissions, 26.7 tons of sulfide, and 13.4 tons of nitric oxide to achieve synergetic development of intelligent manufacturing and environmental conservation.

A total of 11 subsidiaries of SANY have installed photovoltaic power generation equipment, with clean energy usage amounting to 16.013 million kWh.

SANY is actively engaged in the R&D of hydrogen fuel cell technology to improve battery efficiency, reduce cost, and boost the production and storage capabilities, while expanding the applications of hydrogen energy.

Innovation-driven climate action tackles industry bottlenecks

Through establishing a green supply chain, SANY adopts renewable materials and environmentally friendly technologies to reduce resource waste and improve the sustainability of the supply chain.

SANY continues to improve the long-term mechanism for pollution prevention and control, strengthen the control of waste emissions including water, gas, and other hazardous substances, and be cautious of business and operation actions that could damage the ecological environment. In 2022, the group's wastewater and gas emissions met the standard rate of 100 percent, with a 100 percent compliance rate for hazardous waste disposal.

The group is also pushing for using environment-friendly materials to minimize pollution, so that the carbon reduction throughout the product life cycle also includes materials. In 2022, its VOCs emission density was 0.0011 tons per million revenue, a 39.71 percent reduction from the base year.

Meanwhile, the continuous upgrade of production techniques and processes, promotion of energy conservation technologies, and advancement of low-carbon technology development are not only playing key roles in improving production efficiency, but also reducing carbon footprint and aims to reach the "dual-carbon" goals.

Calling for the public's participation

SANY has been carrying out training programs and campaigns centered on environmental protection for employees, while further raising community engagement in terms of green, low-carbon, community-friendly, and educational innovation agendas. In 2022, the company employees completed 687.4 hours of volunteer work, and SANY invested 9.75 million yuan in the year to support 15 public welfare projects.

SANY Construction Industry is leading the green technology application in urban infrastructure construction to accelerate the sustainable development of cities and building intelligent cities, green transportation systems, and energy-conserving architectures to reduce energy consumption, improving urban environment quality and people's livelihoods.

In terms of biodiversity and sustainable development, SANY emphasizes the conservation of soil, ocean, crops, and animals to create a better future, and advocates a circular economy to decrease the waste of resources.

In the context of increasingly severe issues of global climate change, SANY, as a leader in the green industry, is committed to promoting sustainable development and actively joining global efforts to address climate change through comprehensive initiatives such as green supply chains, green energy, and carbon emission reduction.

For more information about SANY Group, please visit www.sanyglobal.com or follow us on Facebook or YouTube.

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