By guest author Armin Hopp
As global competition intensifies, the pressure is on organizations to find more innovative ways to attract, retain, and excite the right talent to become better aligned with their core business goals. However in many emerging economies, talent can be sparse. A recent McKinsey survey in China found that barely 2 million managerial employees out of a population of over 1.3 billion could communicate in English on a management level1 , which is a startling skills gap in China’s labor market. The survey also found senior managers in Chinese organizations switch companies at a rate of 30-40 per cent a year, which is five times the global average.
We are also seeing Chinese organizations with facilities across the country needing to disseminate training on a regional or national level. More than ever before, such organizations are looking at innovative solutions to address their learning needs and talent management strategies that will deliver sustainable growth for the business.
With more organizations looking for more innovative approaches than traditional teaching methods, blended learning is becoming increasingly popular. With the ‘perfect blend,’ companies can combine self-based learning, assignment tasks and classes, which can be attended virtually or over the phone. These learning tools can then be customized to suit staff learning needs and level of skill. Companies are asked to encourage staff to use and develop their skills in ways that are both motivating and compatible with the demands of the workplace.
Portal Open Doors to Communication
In fast growing economies such as China, we are seeing a particular popularity of the perfect blend, because it allows a fascinating virtual portal where users can meet foreigners from all over the world and communicate in a way which may otherwise not be available. Having operated our Speexx language training program in over 80 countries, what we find unique in the Chinese market is the hunger for collaboration. While students in other countries, in Europe for instance, are interested in certifiable and measurable skills, their Chinese counterparts are more keen to meet and communicate with foreigners in the virtual classroom space.
Traditionally, the learning methods implemented in countries such as China have been vocabulary and grammar-centric, however the priority is slowly shifting to recognise that communication is key, not just the mere technicalities of a language. This includes learning accent, tone, pronunciation and communication skills on a business level. Most teachers within these regions are not native English speakers, so the accent in which the foreign language is taught is in many instances insufficient for effective global business communication. However with access to native speakers in the perfect blend’s virtual classroom environment, students can learn how to communicate clearly and be understood, particularly through digital communication streams such as Skype or other VoiP providers, where it can be hard to understand incorrect pronunciation.
For this reason the ‘perfect blend,’ is fast revolutionising the way in which Chinese students are learning to communicate in English. For instance, with the introduction of Speexx in China, 2,800 students were assessed to have an average pronunciation skill level of 30 on the scale of 1-100. Within six months of implementing the perfect blend, this average increased to 80. Speexx has already received accolade in the region, as more organizations are seeing the benefits of the opportunity to interact with native-speaking teachers and students within the virtual environment.
Investing In Innovation
The long-term talent development strategy encompassed within the ‘perfect blend’ means the adoption of Speexx in China is also being supported locally with the top 10 Chinese University for International Business and Economics (UIBE) in Beijing to deliver language learning courses in English, German, French, Spanish and Italian. And just recently Speexx was the only non-Chinese company to be presented with the national Golden Engine Award for ‘Best contribution to the improvement of the Chinese education industry.
While many large organizations such as those operating in Europe or the U.S. are looking at leveraging technology and cloud-based solutions to create competitive advantages and grow their businesses, it is important to note that many international and domestic companies in China do not run on those systems, and that a customized, strategic approach needs to be taken within the region. This is a perennial challenge, made more acute by the global demands of today’s ever-changing labor market.
Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits all solution. Organizations looking at innovative ways to nurture and retain talent need to take the time to adopt a consistent, integrated learning system that is tailored to meet their communication and business needs. Implementing one seamless, standardized blended learning system can be an invaluable solution to unlocking enormous potential for an organization’s talent succession strategy and workforce mobility.
Armin Hopp is the Founder and President of Speexx, the provider of award-winning online corporate language training. The company operates in over 80 countries, has a worldwide network of more than1,200 online tutors. Speexx offers an extensive range of innovative language-learning modules and has delivered results for more than 7 million users worldwide.