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Learning as an Opportunity in Times of Covid-19

Thomas Rabe announces an in-house education initiative to make it easier for employees to access digital learning. Also and especially while working from home, which has become a reality overnight for thousands of employees. And in the event that the coronavirus crisis temporarily creates new freedom in the workday routine.

By and large, Bertelsmann is still functioning as usual despite the Coronavirus crisis, not least thanks to comprehensive preventive measures and the digitization of so many processes. Although the economic consequences of the pandemic for Bertelsmann cannot yet be quantified, Thomas Rabe does see an opportunity for employees, too, should the clocks slow down for us in the coming weeks – an opportunity to learn. Because without commutes to the office, travel and meetings, without customer visits and contract negotiations, with fewer orders and fewer tasks, there will be more time to spare, and the company has tailored its training offering to this. For one, there are online classes that help employees to deal with this unfamiliar situation. And for another, Bertelsmann is significantly expanding the number of Udacity Nanodegrees awarded to Bertelsmann employees.

“In recent years, we have repeatedly pressed for employees to embrace lifelong learning, to get fit for the digital age. And we have made them countless offers for personal development, from online courses to tech scholarships,” notes Rabe, adding that thousands of colleagues had already seized these opportunities. “Now,” continues the CEO, “we are, for one, reaping the fruits of our training offensives because our employees are so well trained in digital technology and can continue working. And for another, we are expanding our offer to all employees who want to make constructive use of the capacities freed up by the coronavirus crisis. Bertelsmann, announces Thomas Rabe, will shortly be offering hundreds of additional Nanodegree courses from Udacity exclusively to interested employees. And that’s not all: “Whereas the scholarship program has to date focused on further education in the tech areas of cloud, data and artificial intelligence, the new offer to employees also covers popular Nanodegree courses in the fields of product management and digital marketing,” explains the CEO.

The timing of Bertelsmann’s new continuing education initiative coincides with the conclusion of the first phase of the latest Udacity Technology Scholarship Program, in which 2,300 Bertelsmann colleagues took part. Since yesterday, we know that 350 of them will receive a Nanodegree scholarship from Udacity based on the program. “That’s a strong quota,” says Thomas Rabe. “After the total number of Bertelsmann scholarship recipients had already shown how much interest there is in first-class tech training in the Group, this is now a clear indication of how well-developed digital literacy is at our company.”

The 350 Nanodegree programs that the tech scholarship high-performers will soon be starting serve as a benchmark for the company’s new offer: “In order to give even more colleagues the opportunity to pursue a Udacity Nanodegree outside the field of technology, we will provide approximately the same number of free Nanodegrees in the fields of product management and digital marketing,” said Immanuel Hermreck, Chief Human Resource Officer, explaining the offer in greater detail. And if interest turns out to be greater, the Group will be responsive to that as well. “Because,” Hermreck continued, “we will definitely meet the demand for continuing education, which is sure to rise, and offer attractive opportunities to our employees worldwide.

For instance, in response to recent events, Bertelsmann is going live with very specific online courses on the subject of working from home (WFH). “Thousands of colleagues have just switched to working from home from one day to the next,” says Immanuel Hermreck. “We would like to support them in mastering this new situation.”  While all employees have had to reorganize their daily personal and work routines, managers now have the additional task of leading teams from a distance, from their own home offices, he said. “But”, says Hermreck, “working and leading from home can be learned – and you should learn it, especially since it is part of the modern working world.”

For this reason, the Bertelsmann University team led by Chief Learning Officer Steven Moran has put together  topic-specific digital learning offerings and will publish them regularly on BENET as well. For example, it is a matter of setting up a suitable work area at home, or personal target-setting and daily planning, and avoiding distractions while working from home. Using the available digital tools to communicate and collaborate with co-workers on one’s own team is of essential importance – as is the aforementioned aspect of leading from home.

“We are deliberately putting the suite of courses on WFH at the start of our offer,” says Steven Moran, “and we will also tailor the subsequent learning offers as closely as possible to the latest needs and interests of employees in this situation as we publish them in the weeks ahead. I can only invite you to seize the opportunity to take a closer look at online learning now.”

Of course this also goes for the new Udacity courses in product management and digital marketing, for which Thomas Rabe has now announced additional scholarships. The “Product Manager” program, e.g., deals with defining product strategies, honing presentation skills, and developing convincing prototypes and implementation schedules. Those who pursue a Nanodegree in “Digital Marketing” will learn how to create marketing content and use social media to reinforce one’s messages. But also how to make sure that content is prominently placed and easily found in online searches, how display, video and email campaigns work, and much more. More information about the Nanodegrees on the Bertelsmann University website.

Have we sparked your interest in participating in one of these courses? Please contact your manager and, depending on the course, register directly on Peoplenet by April 30, 2020.  You can choose to start the courses either on April, April 17, or April 30, 2020, which gives everyone interested parties the opportunity to choose an ideal period. The duration of the courses is also flexible. The courses should be completed by the end of July. To browse through Bertelsmann’s entire range of courses and online offerings, please click here.  (benet)

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