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Lepaya sees a role for AI in optimizing further training for employees. In an interview with Clemens Lechner, head of research and innovation at Lepaya, we discussed the benefits and limits of integrating AI into learning offerings.

AI is playing an increasing role in Lepaya’s training programs. This originally Dutch training platform sharpens employees’ knowledge through a mix of online, offline and VR training. The platform researched the possibilities of AI in training and published the results in the State of Skills report 2024.

Personal coach

The report discusses three roles the technology is already playing in training today. AI can serve as a coach, providing personalized feedback on the progress someone makes in a training program. In addition, AI can analyze which skills can be further developed or need to be learned, making it possible to create targeted training programs that meet the needs of each individual employee. Finally, the AI coach can formulate these analyses into targeted career steps for an employee.

The AI focuses entirely on supporting the employee, but for companies, it does not provide opportunities, for example, to gain an overview of missing skills in the company. This is because the AI does not consider an employee’s entire profile. These recommendations are only based on the training sessions a user goes through at Lepaya. Users can pick out which skills from a training session they still need to master. That’s a different approach than Workday, for example, takes for its skills cloud. That technology relies in part on an employee’s resume and feedback the employee receives from managers. Lepaya is exploring these possibilities because they believe understanding skills profiles is important to know how a company can evolve further.

Also read: Workday opts for business-safe AI: transparent and users have full control

Companies are reassessing learning objectives due to the rise of AI

Nevertheless, companies do gain benefits from integrating AI into training. The value lies in being able to properly train the workforce. In 2023, many companies were already focusing on this by training their staff in the skill of intentional learning. “Intentional or conscious learning,” defines Clemens Lechner, head of research and innovation at Lepaya, “revolves around learning with a specific goal in mind. This can vary from individual goals to organizational goals, but it always results in purposeful learning.”

By 2023, companies will focus much more on conscious learning, an increase of no less than 461 percent. “Companies are increasingly investing in intentional learning because it allows them to closely align employee development with organizational needs. With AI, companies can find the right learning tools that benefit both the learner and the organization,” Lechner indicates.

AI coach is always available

“Another advantage of AI in in-service training is the ability to integrate learning into daily work. AI allows employees to practice their skills at the moment they need to, without having to wait for a coach or trainer to be available. This makes learning much more efficient and effective,” Lechner adds to the report.

Lechner gives a practical example of how AI is used for an employee who wants to sharpen his skills in communicating criticism. “The employee can develop this by engaging in a fictitious video conversation with an AI avatar. This AI avatar simply looks like a person and responds to what is being said. The advantage is that the avatar is always available to train on this skill.” After the conversation, the avatar can coach further with specific examples of where the employee can still improve and where progress was made.

The future is blended learning

Lepaya is an early adopter of AI and is implementing the technology incrementally in its platform. “We were convinced early on that AI has a place in the future of learning because of its added value for engagement, personalized learning and feedback.” The report looks at whether that belief is consistent with the truth and what the technology has been able to add. The final assessment is positive and gives the learning platform more assurance that the tutoring offered is going in the right direction.

However, Lechner does not look at the technology one-sidedly but also knows how to point out its limitations. For example, AI may have difficulty understanding complex human emotions and subtleties. Consequently, he stresses the importance of blended learning, combining social interaction with technology-driven learning. While AI is valuable in providing personalized feedback and delivering customized training materials, he sees human interaction as an essential part of effective learning.

Growing interest

How do companies view learning offerings augmented by AI? According to the report, half of the companies analyzed used this training method. Mainly in the technical (23.2%) and financial (19.5%) sectors, interest was found to be high.

The number will further thicken this year, according to Lepaya. The technology is interesting for companies because it offers a more specialized form of in-service training. By harnessing the power of AI, companies can provide targeted training and development for their employees, helping them better meet the changing demands of the modern job market.

Finally, making a coach available to employees appears to no longer be just for large companies. AI democratizes the possibilities of tinkering with career goals in a company with less budget.

Lepaya is convinced of the value of AI in continuing education and wants to bring the technology to every learner. Currently, the offering is available in Dutch and English. The company added after the interview that it is still working on multilingual support.