Endless Possibilities

Frontiers February 2013 Issue

To encourage development in critical skill areas, tuition is covered 100 percent in technical fields of study. BOEING FRONTIERS / FEBRUARY 2013 23 Boeing’s ability to remain an innovative company depends on having the right people with the right skills. Continuous learning combined with on-the-job experiences gives employees the chance to develop skills in key technical areas that are critical to Boeing’s business, such as engineering, computer science, cybersecurity and mathematics. Through the Learning Together Program, employees can pursue courses in these areas with no funding limits. Employees can also develop critical skills through formal and informal development and rotation programs. Norma Clayton, vice president for Learning, Training and Development, talked with Frontiers about how employees are using technology and other new learning tools to develop these skills. How is the way we learn changing? Boeing has traditionally been a formal learning organization, utilizing tools like instructor-led training, Web-based training and continuing education courses at colleges and universities. What we’re seeing in the training industry now is a move aligned with technology that is social and collaborative. And this is the space we’re moving into. All across the organization we’re seeing a distinct move toward smaller snippets of learning and we’re looking to leverage this. It’s all about giving people what they need at the moment of need. Instead of taking an entire course, we can break it down and give them a small piece of information that can be used right away. And we’re testing different technologies, such as mobile learning, as an enabler to deliver these small pieces of information. Employees are also using these technolo-gies to share information more than ever before. They’re texting, leveraging Wikis, blogging, connecting through inSite and using cellphone apps. How is this affecting formal education? While there will always be a demand for higher education, we’re seeing a distinct move from four-year degrees to certificates, particularly at Commercial Airplanes. As people are navigating their career, the strategy of shorter-term learning is attractive as a professional tuneup. It’s not as expen-sive or as big of a time commitment as a four-year or advanced-degree program. We’ve developed the Continuing Education Advising toolkit, which aligns skills with programs at colleges and universities available both at a local and national level. The courses are eligible for the Learning Together Program, Boeing’s tuition assistance program. If you’re pursuing a career interest in supply chain management, there’s prob-ably a local or online university that has a program. Certificates are a great option to give someone an overview on a particular career path while providing applicable skills they can put to use right away. How does Boeing plan to utilize emerging learning technologies? We’re using technology as an enabler of learning where it’s appropriate. In our delivery methods, we aim for the highest level of knowledge transfer. Sometimes that means formal learning and sometimes it means using technology. Our big near-term technology advancements are around collaborative learning environments. This may take the form of a more interactive classroom where the instructor changes his or her role as the sole knowledge expert to a knowledge facilitator. In this kind of environment, the facilitator integrates the latest learning tech-nologies to leverage the knowledge of the learners. This approach not only increases learner engagement during the class, it exponentially increases the knowledge shared and gained between learners. What is a learning path? A learning path defines the sequence of formal, informal and experiential learning that’s needed to prepare someone for either additional advancement or overall career growth. A learning path looks at a career over the long term and the learning and experiences needed along the way. It’s very personalized, allowing each person to move at his or her own pace. Not all job functions have formal learning paths, but there’s nothing stopping employ-ees from working with their managers to lay out a plan. We’ve provided the means to do so through a number of tools, such as the Continuing Education Advising Toolkit, Learning Together Program, LTD courses and much more. n


Frontiers February 2013 Issue
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