Let’s get serious about AI and personalisation in apprenticeships

Embracing the latest technology can help a workforce better prepare for the challenges of today and tomorrow

Embracing the latest technology can help a workforce better prepare for the challenges of today and tomorrow

7 May 2024, 5:00

With a growing imperative around upskilling and reskilling, it’s never been more important to challenge our thinking about the tools and approaches we employ in pursuit of personalised, timely and effective learning.

It’s clear that the appetite is already there for workplace learning that blends study with practical experience. But there’s still a long way to go to realise the full potential of apprenticeships – not least because of the perennial ‘perception problems’ they conjure of being unduly complex, inflexible, and admin-heavy.

Rightfully, the discussion about meaningful return on investment (ROI) continues among employers and the education sector alike. To get to meaningful value, however, we first need to address how and where apprenticeship programmes are put to work. Get the approach right, and the ROI takes care of itself.

Emerging technology holds the very real possibility of taking the apprenticeship format to the next level – departing from the traditional, ‘linear’ learning model; improving user experience; and working ever-smarter within funding parameters.  

Breaking the mould

Advancements in technology – particularly GenAI – will continue to disrupt and reshape the way we live, work and learn.

Importantly, the true value that emerging technology has to offer learning isn’t in the gimmicks of creating more content, quicker; It’s about considered, contextual use that augments and elevates the richness and relevance of learning and unleashes the human potential that’s currently muzzled by the process.

It’s true that bleeding-edge technology and the apprenticeships don’t naturally go hand in hand. In fact, it’s no secret that a large portion of the conversation in the education space has centred around scepticism and concerns about plagiarism.

However, with a shift to see opportunity instead of obstacle, the possibilities extend beyond simple applications in platform augmentation. There’s an opportunity to deliver learning in an adaptable, hyper-personalised way to deliver value to learners and their businesses alike, in step with the changing demands of the modern workforce.

For example, in a recent pilot programme with Obrizum utilising their market-leading adaptive learning technology, we embarked on a mission to define an entirely new breed of apprenticeship programme with AI. Together, we set about reimagining the way that learning is constructed, consumed and measured.

AI has the power to unlock and apply datasets to provide a holistic view of learner progress. It can help deliver a superior learner experience by broadening or reducing exposure to certain knowledge themes based on competence and confidence dimensions, as well as empowering skills coaches to support learners in a far more personalised way.  

In other words, such technology enables true personalisation by continuously adapting the learning journey based on individual performance and providing actionable insights to learners and skills coaches.

A new era

When ‘done right’, the apprenticeship format is all about balancing technical skills development with the confidence and behavioural attributes to create self-aware, well-rounded individuals. Ultimately, the goal of intelligent technology deployment is to support and augment the human aspects of that work, not to replace it.

The results of our recent pilot programme speak for themselves: 94 per cent of learners on the adaptive learning pathways felt the learning was highly personalised to their specific needs, leading to a 1.5x increase in speed to competency.

Moreover, we’ve seen a 25 per cent increase in learner satisfaction versus the non-adaptive pathways, and a 28 per cent increase in overall learner confidence. The programme was also awarded the ‘Best use of AI in Learning’ by the Learning and Performance Institute, recognising its application of AI-driven adaptive technology to enhance learning outcomes.

The role of education is to provide learners with the skills required to take them to the next step of whatever journey they’re on. Within apprenticeships, this encompasses both technical skills and the essential soft (or ‘power’) skills to build confident, competent and future-ready individuals.

AI-enabled apprenticeships have a significant role to play in contributing to a workforce that is better prepared for the challenges of today and tomorrow. Getting it right – and going beyond superficial applications to unlock true value – requires bold adoption and considered thinking about the opportunities the technology presents.

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