AI training revolution: Upskilling for a new era

A recent Coursera for Business webinar explored how generative AI can be leveraged for workforce development and training.
By: | April 3, 2024

In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, the role of HR professionals has expanded beyond traditional functions like recruitment and talent management. With the advent of transformative technologies like Generative AI (GenAI), HR leaders are increasingly tasked with driving innovation and facilitating continuous learning and development within their organisations.

Coursera for Business, in collaboration with HRM Asia, recently hosted a webinar aimed at empowering HR professionals with the knowledge and strategies to harness GenAI for workforce development. The former’s GenAI Academy offers structured training programmes designed to bridge the skills gap and equip employees with the capabilities needed to thrive in a GenAI-powered world.

Amandeep Singh Kohli, Regional Director – Asia at Coursera, emphasised the importance of keeping people at the core of any GenAI strategy. “GenAI is a tool in your arsenal to make sure that you become more productive,” he said. This human-centric approach is crucial for successful GenAI implementation, he continued, adding that GenAI should not be seen as a replacement for human employees but rather as a way to augment their skills and make them more effective.

The webinar featured a panel discussion moderated by Shawn Liew, Head of Content Development for HRM Asia. Titled Building an Effective Skills Programme to Improve Employee Productivity and Performance with Generative AI, the discussion included representatives from organisations like Singtel and Maybank.

Datuk Dr Nora Manaf, Group Chief Human Capital Officer at Maybank, shared insights into Maybank’s experience with GenAI implementation to provide a compelling narrative of the organisation’s proactive approach to embracing this transformative technology. She underscored the importance of effective communication, literacy-building initiatives, and tangible business outcomes driven by GenAI adoption.

Datuk Nora’s emphasis on demystifying GenAI sets the tone for Maybank’s approach to technology adoption. “Demystifying is the first thing that we do,” she explained, highlighting the bank’s commitment to bringing all employees to a minimum level of literacy and understanding. This disciplined approach ensures that Maybank’s workforce is equipped with the necessary knowledge to embrace GenAI’s potential fully.

Furthermore, she elaborated on Maybank’s literacy-building initiatives, emphasising the importance of establishing a baseline of understanding of GenAI concepts. “We offer a self-administered assessment to help employees gauge their understanding of basic terms. It’s not intended for reporting purposes, but rather for self-evaluation,” she shared.

Datuk Nora’s anecdote about Maybank’s use cases further illustrates the tangible impact of GenAI on business outcomes. She cited an example of a pilot programme where they used ChatGPT technology to train salespeople. “The results were impressive,” she said, “with the GenAI-trained group achieving nearly three times the sales realisation compared to the traditionally trained group.” This demonstrates the tangible benefits that GenAI can bring to employee productivity and performance.

Simon Wong, Associate Director of People Development at Singtel, echoed the sentiment. “GenAI democratises access to technology,” he asserted, capturing the essence of GenAI’s transformative power. He highlighted how GenAI transcends traditional communication barriers, enabling anyone proficient in a language to leverage its capabilities. Wong’s remarks underscore how GenAI facilitates inclusivity by empowering all individuals from all backgrounds, including primary school students, to utilise its tools in educational settings.

In the context of Singtel’s utilisation of GenAI, Wong elaborated on the diverse applications within the organisation. He discussed how departments with the requisite skills harness GenAI to develop chatbots and applications tailored to internal employees and external stakeholders. This approach underscored Singtel’s commitment to leveraging GenAI to enhance operational efficiency and customer experience.

Moreover, Wong emphasised Singtel’s comprehensive training interventions designed to cater to different learner categories. These interventions include role-based training, broad-based training for a larger population, and self-paced learning via an e-learning platform. By offering various learning modules, Singtel ensures that employees acquire a fundamental understanding of GenAI, empowering them to leverage its capabilities effectively.

The success stories shared during the webinar highlight the importance of a well-defined GenAI implementation strategy. Coursera’s Kohli aptly summarised the current state of GenAI adoption within organisations as a “GenAI conundrum”. Leaders face a dilemma: the potential benefits of GenAI are undeniable, but the fear of technical risks and data security concerns can lead to hesitation.

However, the potential of GenAI far outweighs the risks, he said. “Leaders with access to better technologies are well-positioned to navigate this change effectively. Just like a Formula One race car needs good brakes alongside its powerful engine, organisations must balance rapid innovation with high-quality training and data security measures.”

READ MORE: Gen Z is struggling with in-person interactions. How HR can help

Coursera recognises this challenge and offers structured training programmes to help organisations equip their workforce with the necessary skills and knowledge. “We understand this risk of moving too fast, the risk of moving too slow,” Kohli acknowledged. “But while you’re navigating all of these, Coursera offers a structured training programme for you to take so that eventually when all of these regulatory concerns go away your employees can be productive as quickly as you want them.”

The future of work will be shaped by GenAI. By embracing this technology and prioritising a human-centric approach to training, organisations can navigate the GenAI conundrum with confidence, Kohli suggested. With careful planning and a focus on employee development, organisations can leverage GenAI to build a futureproof workforce that is prepared to thrive in the age of intelligent automation.