The labour (or)deal: what's in it for L&D?

29 February 2024
Marie Clémençon Project Consultant Connect on Linkedin

I presume it’s safe to say that the labour deal has been a hot topic since its publication in October 2022. For some companies, it meant the starting point for defining their vision on development and flexible working, while for others, it's an opportunity to revise and refine their existing policies as needed or maybe just put them on paper.

The government’s goal? Boosting the employment rate up to 80% by focusing on flexibility to ensure a better balance between work and personal life, and by continuously developing employees (with extra attention to those aged 50 and above, individuals with partial work disabilities, etc.).

So, how can we break free from this idea that it's not just an obligatory necessity but instead embrace its good intentions? And how do we embed the growth of individuals into our business strategy in a well-thought-out and authentic manner?

How does the Labour deal impact L&D?

In terms of employee development, the labour deal outlines two key requirements. Firstly, the employer must create an annual training plan that clearly specifies the organized training initiatives, their purposes, timing, and target audience. Additionally, the employer is obligated to guarantee individual training rights, entitling each employee to a minimum number of training days.

What’s in it for (y)our company

Well, for starters, a plan-based approach strengthens your learning culture, bringing benefits to both employers and employees. Reflecting on the learning strategy and vision provides an opportunity to shift from a basic necessity (reactive) to a method of aligning training initiatives with company goals, projects, and processes (proactive).

When done right, it makes personal growth more tangible and, as a result, more appealing to both current employees and potential new candidates. Plus, it helps maintain or enhance competitiveness within the talent market.

A plan-based approach to L&D makes personal growth more tangible and thus more appealing to both employees and potential new candidates.

Learning is a means, not a goal

Why should we learn at work? A first and important question that can serve as the starting point for your reflective process. The answer to this question is likely not easily summarised in one single sentence, and probably also depends on the core business of the company, which is often intertwined with the challenges presented by the sector or market. For example, upskilling or reskilling employees to keep up with rapidly changing technology, striving to either maintain or expand a specific market position, or actively seeking and retaining suitable talent for hard-to-fill positions.

In our case, the approach is no different: at TriTechnology, we operate based on what we call 'Economies of Motivation', where we believe that a stimulating work environment focused on personal growth and development results in motivated consultants, strong projects, and satisfied clients.

We consider ourselves a career accelerator and destination finder, aiming to provide a working environment that really commits to personal growth for our employees.

Our approach to Learning & Development

We always start from our competence framework. Employees reflect on existing skills, discuss ambitions for upcoming projects, and strategize on how to achieve them. The outcome is a personalized development plan, where concrete steps and actions are linked to goals. It's of course no surprise that learning plays a significant role in this.

Tailored learning solutions

Our internal training offerings provide learning solutions tailored to those specific needs. This can be done à la carte, through standalone courses, or predefined menus like tracks and academies, targeting certain groups, ranging from young graduates to first-time people managers. Those predefined tracks also have the added benefit of building and strengthening communities, which nurtures a sense of belonging and employee engagement.

A knowledge-sharing network organization

Additionally, we function as a knowledge-sharing network organization, built on the principle of reciprocity. We believe that contributing to the network leads to receiving value in return, fostering motivation, teamwork, and collective creativity, and ultimately improving overall performance. As a consultancy firm, we find ourselves in the perfect position to bring in fresh insights, experiences, and best practices from external sources. To foster this exchange, we offer our employees a forum through short knowledge-sharing sessions Think of today's hot topics such as ESG or the efficient utilization of AI tools as valuable job aids. This adaptability equips us to effectively handle both current and future challenges.

Policy into practice

To market our vision, processes, and learning opportunities, we rely on our internal teams, who function as ambassadors to bridge the gap between policy and practical implementation. It's a two-way interaction that is not only crucial for translating theory into practice but also for challenging current policies by sharing the needs and realities of the business and adjusting where necessary.

Shaping your training plan

The government's content and format requirements are rather limited and can be seen as either a curse or a blessing, but the absence of a mandatory template means the employer is free to determine it as they wish.

According to the FOD WASO, these are the key elements to take into account*:

  • It should include a list of formal and informal training initiatives for the upcoming year, so besides traditional classroom sessions and e-learnings, activities like coaching and mentoring are also included.
  • The plan should take into account at-risk groups and the gender dimension.
  • It must also incorporate training to address the so-called bottleneck professions (knelpuntberoepen) in the sector to which the employer belongs.

In addition to a formalized training plan, the number of individual training days must be increased to 5. For PC 200, this number can go up progressively, which means we go from 3 (starting from January 2024) to 4 (2026) and finally to 5 training days, as of 2028.

For us, the Labour deal is an opportunity to formalize and externalize our vision of Learning & Development.

Towards a formalized L&D plan

We’re proud of the fact that employee development is part of our DNA. We see this as an opportunity to formalize and externalize our vision of learning and development. It is also a way of looking back at what we already achieved and implemented within our company.

To obtain a comprehensive L&D plan, we focused on:

  • our three main employee groups, each with a specific focus and varying developmental needs: our Project Consultants and our internal team within the business units as well as our support units;
  • an overview of all learning initiatives by the 70-20-10 rule: 70% learning on the job, 20% informal learning, and 10% formal learning. According to the labour deal, only the formal and informal aspects need to be included in the training plan. However, recognizing the significant role that challenging projects play in the growth curve of our consultants, we think it's important to address this aspect as well. Even more so, during their project, they are supported by a mentor, who can provide case-specific advice and insights, blurring the line between on-the-job and informal learning;
  • our competency mapping and evaluation tools, as we consider self-reflection and feedback a key factor for cultivating a growth mindset;

  • finally, a formal learning section, listing our extensive training offer, accompanied with details such as the type of training (classroom, webinar, e-learning, etc.), duration, required competency level, and target audience.

Given our customized and on-demand approach, it is challenging to already provide a final training schedule by the end of the first quarter, but to give you an idea: in addition to the various established tracks and academies set up each year, around 170* additional training on-demand sessions are planned annually, focusing on soft skills, methodologies, languages, tools, finance-technical knowledge, and more. And since we have an abundance of in-house expertise, we engage our Project Consultants to share their knowledge and serve as trainers, aligning with their ambitions; a win-win.

*For TriFinance, TriHD and TriTechnology as a whole.

New year, new plan

While the fundamental principles of your training plan may not undergo drastic changes each year, having an annual training plan offers the advantage of being able to gradually shape, refine, or adjust your processes and offerings, because of shifts in your workforce, technology, or economy can impact the learning solutions your company provides to its employees. An annual consultation with key stakeholders (managers, business partners, etc.) helps gain a better understanding of what is or isn't relevant anymore and identify new challenges.

As we eagerly await further instructions from the government on where we need to submit the plan or clarification on the so-called "federal learning account," we happily continue working towards the future of workplace learning!

*NOTE: some of the deal’s provisions depend on the size of the company and the sector in which they operate. In this blog, we elaborated on the provisions applicable to TriFinance, TriHD and TriTechnology, an organization with more than 20 employees within PC 200.

In need of more information?

You can find the governmental directions on the website of the Flemish government.