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  4. New whitepaper: Closing the Opportunity Gap: The economic drivers for learning as a benefit

New whitepaper: Closing the Opportunity Gap: The economic drivers for learning as a benefit

Uber colleagues

Organisations need to start thinking about learning differently. They need to think of it as a benefit, something that benefits them, benefits individuals and teams, and also benefits society as a whole. That is the central theme of a new whitepaper, Closing the opportunity gap: The economic drivers for learning as a benefit, produced by The Open University and Uber, in association with TrainingZone.

In his introduction to the report, Simon Tindall, Head of Skills and Innovation at The Open University, talks about the vital role learning has to play in terms of helping organisations, individuals and society to thrive and grow in an ever-changing world. “As the world of work changes rapidly around us, we need to rethink traditional models of learning and development and provide the opportunity for everyone to reskill and upskill,” he says. “This report takes a closer look at how we can evolve learning at work beyond traditional models to better serve organisations, businesses, individuals and wider society.”

Olu, Uber Driver

The report highlights two examples where organisations have reimagined learning so that learning becomes a benefit for all. The first example is Uber, which has been working in partnership with the OU. Under a new scheme, 25,000 loyal drivers, known as Uber Pro members, have access to free undergraduate degree level qualifications. But this opportunity is not just limited to Uber Pro drivers and couriers, but to their families as well.

Open University | Uber | Closing the Opportunity Gap: The economic drivers for learning as a benefit

In the first few months, over 400 members signed up, with 13% passing the opportunity on to their partner, child or another family member. When asked why they had signed up, almost 50% said they had experienced barriers to entering higher education prior to joining the programme, while 22% said they were preparing for a new or additional career.

Olu, Uber Driver

The pharmaceutical company Novartis is another organisation that is leveraging digital learning to achieve learning as a benefit. It has invested $100 million to give unlimited learning opportunities to all of its 108,000 associates over a five year period. During the pandemic, it started offering free learning programmes to associates’ friends and families and free access to learning for children at home.

Laura Overton, learning analyst and author of the report, outline four key recommendations at the end of the whitepaper. They are:

  • Fully leverage digital
  • Improve access and inclusion
  • Empower individuals
  • Provide opportunity

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