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Upskill your co-workers with an adapted Covid-19 learning approach

In today’s VUCA world, more than ever, there is no guarantee that the skills you have today will still be relevant tomorrow.

VDAB, in its ambition to enable all Flemish citizens (the unemployed and the working population) to fully develop their talents and competences, is fully committed to provide digital solutions to its customers. To realize that dream, they need additional well-skilled IT profiles to make that vision a reality.  More than any organization, VDAB fully understands the principle of ‘hiring for attitude and training for skills’.

Luckily, VDAB already has co-workers with the right attitude and the potential to acquire the right skills. VDAB partnered up with AE to reskill a first group of people towards a functional analyst role.  Together with VDAB and Informatie Vlaanderen, we set up an internal recruitment campaign. A thorough selection process led to a group of 6 people ready to start a new chapter in their career.


VDAB 1We created a safe environment to learn new skills, with a thoughtfully designed
4-week training program where the participants master not only the theory, but also practice to further develop their new skills and learn from each other. Several experienced trainers shared their best tricks of the trade with them and they started practicing on a fictional driving school case, under the watchful eye of two coaches.  

The first two weeks of training were intense, but gradually those 6 people gained more insight in how to model processes, behaviour and information. They also learned  how communication and interviewing skills are key to designing software systems that deliver value to the customer.

And then, Covid-19 struck. In less than a week, we went from ‘Let’s order an additional load of hand sanitizer’ to ‘All meetings with more than 5 people in a room should be cancelled, and everyone who can, should be working remotely in order to flatten the curve’. Continuing our classroom training as intended was not an option.

Over the weekend, Stijn Van Schoonlandt, one of our coaches, worked out an online learning alternative for the third week of the program. This allowed the participants to let the content of the previous two weeks sync in and repeat the parts that weren’t entirely clear yet. Daily check-ins with coaches Lore and Stijn made sure that every participant stayed on course in building up the right skills.

In Weeks 4 and 5 we switched to a full blended and virtual learning approach, with 3-hour virtual training sessions in the morning on Agile, requirements engineering and tools like Sparx EA, JIRA and Confluence. The remainder of the day was filled with time to work on a case and regular one-on-one coaching sessions to assist the trainees with their questions. The day ended with a group coaching session where exercises were discussed and the trainees could learn from each others’ solutions. At the end of the program, all participants presented their solution for their cases to a group of VDAB IT Managers and senior analysts.

There is no better way to capture the impact of this training program than with a few quotes from VDAB themselves:

“Great trainers and professional guidance by the coaches! They both have lots of practical experience and a high degree of flexibility (cf. Covid-19 measures). The training program was well-structured.” 
Paolo Meyvis, participant

“We can be truly proud of the content, the swift transition to virtual learning and the onboarding of new high-quality junior analysts into our department.”
Katrien Delille, Director Software Factory VDAB 

The current COVID-19 situation forces not only the participants, but also us as learning and development professionals, to learn at an even higher pace than before. We ended  the training program with a virtual retrospective using Microsoft Teams and We strongly believe this kind of team feedback and self-reflection will be key to adapting to volatile circumstances, now more than ever.

Stay tuned, because next week we will offer you some of our key takeaways when it comes to virtual trainings. Meanwhile, please don't hesitate to contact us when you are wondering what we can do for your organization in these turbulent times. Our experts our happy to help!