ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.—Why is Netflix so popular? Because you can start the show at 2 a.m., pause it five minutes later to microwave popcorn, stop it when you're sleepy in 20 minutes and finish watching another day.

In other words, it's on-demand. And it's a business model your electric co-op could take a lesson from when it comes to continuously updating employees' skills.

"Especially with the introduction of more and more millennials, younger talent coming into co-ops, there's a new shift from training being a one-time event to moving toward building a learning culture—more specifically, an on-demand mindset," said Howard Lamm, enterprise relationship manager at LinkedIn.

Why the rush?

"The average lifecycle of a skill is now less than five years," Lamm told a session at Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives' NET 2018. "Thirty-five percent of the core jobs that we were either trained for, hired for, the technologies that we use are becoming obsolete and they're continuing to change."

That's causing skills shortages, which Lamm said has led organizations nationwide to ponder, "We have all these people in place. How do we provide the skills for them to be successful in their jobs?"

And with artificial intelligence and other rising technologies, "the ability to continue to gain new skills to help people do more with less is becoming a very, very important topic for many organizations," said Lamm.

Your co-op, of course, has a vested interest in not only attracting but retaining good people.

"It's expensive to replace employees, so giving them opportunities to continuously learn is becoming more and more important," said Lamm. He noted that career development and advancement are today's main reasons people leave jobs.

"It's no longer financial reasons or access to good management. People—especially younger millennial talent—want to come in and know that they're going to be taken care of and given opportunities to be successful in their job."

Lynda.com, which is part of LinkedIn, offers on-demand learning on a wide range of topics, including IT certification, project management and team building. Lamm called it "super cost-effective" and an improvement over the old idea of having a monthly training session.

Touchstone Energy member co-ops have full access to all of Lynda.com resources, including customized playlists, Project Management Institute (PMI) and IT certification training and offline viewing options. For more information, email tselynda@nreca.coop.  

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