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.

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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.

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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.

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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Krishna Mali
Krishna Mali
Founder & Group Editor of TechGraph.
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