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‘Training days’ are losing ground to ongoing learning and development where employees ‘level up’ around their working week.

Companies desperate for skills are naturally keen to boost the capabilities of the talent they already have.

But is that something of a selfish outlook?

“I am fundamentally against companies providing employees with a yearly learning budget, which if the employee doesn’t use then loses and is only limited to a few educators and courses,” says Brett Shanley, CEO and founder of Knoma, a finance solution and marketplace for lifelong learning.

Knoma helps people looking to futureproof their career or move into new areas of work by reducing the barrier of payment – and removing the pain point of sourcing technical courses.

The company works with leading digital schools, universities and coding bootcamps to offer tech and digital courses such as coding, UX, design, management, cyber security and AI. They then finance these tech courses by enabling people to spread the cost through zero interest and zero fee loans.

“Knoma believes strongly employers should be making monthly education contributions into employees’ learning wallets,” says Shanley. 

“The employee should be able to use these funds when and where they want to consume education and be able to take those contributions with them after they leave the company. 

“In the future, we hope to open up an SME and corporate model where we provide the education wallet and access to all the educators and their respective courses.”

Knoma says it has helped to fund the upskilling and reskilling of more than 1,000 students. It is now working with over 100 education providers including Emeritus, upGrad, Ironhack, Code Institute, Digital Marketing Institute and UX Design Institute.

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Accenture estimates the digital skills gap across the G20 economies is set to cost them close to $11.5 trillion in lost GDP output by 2028.

Meanwhile the UK government’s ‘levelling up’ whitepaper has promised that by 2030 the number of people successfully completing high-quality skills training will have significantly increased in every geographical region.

“This is a good start, but just a drop in the ocean,” says Shanley. “As a society, it is critical that government and corporations work together to tackle the skills gap – currently there is too little engagement and collaboration. This needs to change.

“The UK needs to see this as an opportunity and turning point to reform the education and training system, including how it is funded and the performance of the education on the learners’ earning power.

“The UK has every opportunity to become a digital skills utopia but more needs to be done now to secure the possibility of such a future. Digital jobs are increasing exponentially, and, in the future, there is a real danger that some people will be left behind if not prepared for the new digital economy. 

“In order to ensure every member of the public has the opportunity to get ahead, we need investment that matches the acknowledgement of Government and business that digital skills are not only essential for business success but also driving the UK economy forward. 

“Only then will we have a society that can truly embrace the opportunities that technology provides.”