Learning For Everyone – The democratization of corporate learning

September 15, 2017 | Activate Learning | 4 min read


What began in 1945 Brisbane as a small engineering consultancy firm has grown into a global professional infrastructure, environmental services and international development company delivering projects in more than 100 countries and employing around 6,000 people worldwide. Obviously, we are tremendously proud of such an accomplishment and believe that a huge part of this success is thanks to a fundamental organizational belief in our workforce; a commitment to training as demonstrated through the likes of our global Zero Harm safety program which we launched in 2011, and reflects our pledge to ensure the safety of all employees, clients and the communities in which we work.

While such training was appreciated by all, we knew we could do more. We wanted to expand, to offer globally consistent training across the company – training that could be easily completed, delivering the results we desired, yet be inspiring and engaging, while remaining cost effective to deliver.

But as everyone in L&D knows, there is no guarantee that just because you build it they will come. L&D efforts have to get employee buy-in from the word go, otherwise they might end up justifying an expense that isn’t all that justifiable. That’s when we decided that to ensure participation from all levels, we had to get all levels involved at the very outset. We established the Cardno University Governing Body with employee representation from all regions in Cardno. We meet on a quarterly basis to set the strategic direction for content, evaluate our successes, plan our next steps and act on employee feedback.

Loaded with Skillsoft content, Cardno University is truly “everybody’s university” thanks to the high level of employee input into the content and delivery. Everything from cultural and language factors to legislative requirements and local laws are all accounted for and considered in Cardno University. We provide support to local offices and project teams enabling global training frameworks and methodologies to be customised to meet specific learning and development needs. This ensures employees receive the correct training regardless of their cultural background yet aligns to their role requirements.

We also measure and act on Cardno University feedback obtained through both a biennial global employee engagement survey, “Have Your Say” and an annual 360 degree leadership survey. Using this measurement and feedback, we constantly review, update and improve delivery and content.

To further promote Cardno University and ensure employees are aware of any and all training updates, a different training initiative is promoted as “Course of the Month” while every week a new video is featured as “Video of the Week.”

While there have been many outcomes from this inclusion of employees in the planning, one such stand out is the subject of diversity. To answer calls for greater diversity, especially amongst gender, Cardno University worked closely with our Women in Cardno program, launched in 2013, to release a brand new “Women in Cardno Leadership Training” platform.

Since its inception, Cardno University has proudly released over 4,000 new professional development courses and videos to the business, all aligned to our Core Competency Wheel, a central hub for all our courses and a Career Development Review (CDR) process which directly corresponds to Cardno’s performance review protocols.

And since we are talking about a more democratic process, I think it best I leave the final words to those of Cardno employees:

“Cardno University is one of the real benefits of being an employee at Cardno. The whole platform is continually improving to meet the training and development needs not just for Cardno but for me as an individual employee. It’s easy to access and delivers relevant, targeted, personalized opportunities to me. The compliance courses are well promoted, easy to access and memorable. I hope it continues to grow and develop along with me.”

As a manager, the Skillsoft courses offered through the Core Competency Wheel has been a welcome resource as it is the interface between our annual career development process and the large array of training material available through the Learning Management System. The competency wheel provides the framework so that managers can map structured development paths for our staff with confidence that the path taken meets our business needs, i.e. by being relevant and integrated. For staff, the wheel also provides a holistic view of the different areas in which their career can develop and can help them be proactive in managing their learning.”

“I like Cardno University because it’s not just about ensuing mandatory compliance, it’s about an individual’s choice in learning. I was recently “disrupted” after learning about the Six Step Coaching technique through the Leadership Channel (Marshall Goldsmith). So simple, yet so effective, I loved it!”

“The Women in Cardno Governing Body were delighted to partner with Skillsoft to deliver a tailored and custom Women in Leadership program that suited the needs of our business. The process was made easy by the enthusiasm of the Skillsoft team and in a short timeframe, we were able to launch a highly valued program.”

James Hanson is the Global Learning & Development Manager and Principal for Cardno.