Working learning on the way to sustainable employability

duurzame inzetbaarheid en werkend leren mycademy

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According to Ensie, the encyclopedic knowledge platform, sustainable employability is a term that many organizations use to keep staff healthy, developed and above all working.

Sustainable employability is a concept that we hear a lot in recent years. This is related to the current aging and dejuvenation of the labor market.

Aging and dejuvenation in short

Our life expectancy is increasing. Let's be very happy about that. However, this does pose a problem. AOW and pension have to be paid for longer and the group that bears the costs for this – the working part of our population – has become smaller.

One of the measures to compensate to some extent for the rising costs of this aging population is to raise the retirement age from 2021 to 67 years. The aging of the population starts with the decrease in the number of young people in the population: the hazing.

Recruit and retain staff

In short, the labor market is changing. That is why more and more organizations attach importance to sustainable employability. This is attractive for both the employer and the employee. Due to the tight labor market, the employer has to pull out all the stops to recruit and retain staff. If you manage to keep those employees, it is of course an advantage if they are healthy, vital, motivated and involved and continue to develop themselves. These employees enjoy their work more, are more productive and less often sick.

For the employee it is of course pleasant to work for an organization that creates the right conditions to keep you healthy, vital, motivated and involved and offers you the opportunity to continue to work on your personal development.

Attention from the government and the European Union

Stimulating and improving employment in Europe is one of the goals of the European Union. That is why there is also plenty of attention from the EU for sustainable employability. The European Social Fund (ESF) provides subsidies to companies to ensure that workers can adapt more easily to the changing labor market.

The subject is also raised by the Dutch government plenty of attention. For example, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment has developed the campaign ‘Towards Sustainable Employability'.

Tools have been developed for this campaign to help companies put sustainable employability on the map. These tools are aimed at subjects such as undesirable behavior, aggression and violence, working learning, health and vitality, physical strain, involvement.

Learning while working

Of course we also pay attention to all these subjects within HR Consultant UK. We also want our employees to be and remain motivated, healthy and productive. But of course we are particularly interested in the subject of ‘Working Learning'. We know that companies that make a strategic choice for knowledge development and continuously learn to embrace them are demonstrably more successful than companies that do not, not least thanks to the sustainable employability of their employees.

As part of the campaign ‘Towards Sustainable Employability', the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment has commissioned a study into working learning. The final report of this research supports – fortunately! – our opinion. This report sheds light on five insights: what stands out in successful initiatives aimed at learning and development. The emphasis in the project has been placed on the group of less educated employees. However, this does not alter the fact that many of the results can also be used generically for all workers. We will briefly discuss them.

Vision on trends in the sector

Changes in the market, technological developments and demographic trends are important reasons why investing in learning and development is important. You should not only translate these trends into innovation of your products and services, but you should also think about what the impact of this is on the required knowledge and skills of your employees. Translate your vision of the trends in the sector into daily work.

In addition, you must clearly communicate that vision to your employees, as well as any change of course that comes about as a result of that vision. And in addition to communicating, you also have to translate your vision of the trends into a vision of training and development. Exemplary behavior and leadership are essential in this. Map out which competencies you need and which ones you still lack. Do you see that? Then draw up a training plan that works.

Commitment to craftsmanship

Talk to your employees about their craftsmanship: the skill to deliver high-quality work. Often words such as ‘course' and ‘education' do not appeal. Then you can craftsmanship and craft pride use as ‘brackets' to nevertheless stimulate training and development. Becoming better in his or her profession is something that appeals to every professional or woman. Also make sure that you clarify what the development process will yield your employee: ‘what's in it for me'?

Learning close to the work process

Everyone has their own way of learning and every employee is at a different point in his or her career and has personal development wishes. Therefore, make sure you have an offer that matches the wishes and possibilities of the employee. For some employees it is motivating to learn close to the work process: getting started with practical cases or current customer questions, so that what they have learned can be applied directly in practice.

Do not forget informal learning, for example by letting colleagues learn from each other (cross training), holding knowledge sessions or by having employees swap positions for a short period (job rotation).

The importance of ‘the good conversation' between employer and employee

A good conversation between employer and employee is important for both. Such a conversation can be informal or formal, but genuine interest, openness and trust are always important. Thanks to such a conversation, the employee gains insight into what he or she wants, the employer gains insight into the competencies and development wishes of the employees. This can be the starting point of the employee's development process.

It is not only important that ‘the good conversation' is conducted periodically, but also that this conversation is conducted ‘properly': a conversation that is conducted in the right way and with sufficient regularity. A safe environment and a good relationship between employer and employee are preconditions for an open and honest conversation.

A safe environment and space are the most important preconditions

A safe environment with time and space to learn is essential for the development of employees. An environment where you dares to make mistakes and dares to ask questions. People can only learn from that. But also an environment where you get the opportunity and the space to learn and develop yourself.

Feedback – both between colleagues and between employee and manager – can be an important motivation to keep working on your development. There is an open and transparent culture necessary for.

The report also provides a number of practical tips.


Do you also want to put continuous learning on the agenda, but could you use some help with that? We are happy to help you give knowledge development an even more strategic role. Please feel free to contact us.



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