Organisations must invest in the longer-term learning needs of their staff, experts have said, as they welcomed news that Deliveroo is rolling out a raft of free online learning courses for its workers.
The partnership with OpenClassrooms, which was announced recently, has been tailored to suit the culture of flexible working under the gig economy platform, providing hundreds of online courses free of charge, and a scholarship scheme for the company’s riders.
Courses will be available on a 24-hour basis in a variety of languages, and will include vocational subjects, such as design, marketing, and project management.
Andy Lancaster, head of learning and development content at the CIPD, welcomed the learner-focused design of the provision, accommodating the other commitments of the company’s workers. Deliveroo said half of its riders were students, while 40 per cent had caring responsibilities.
“Historically organisations defined learner needs, but we are now seeing a mindset shift towards the wider needs of learners in their roles and careers,” he said.
“Online learning is a big part of the future of staff development, and it’s particularly interesting to see a gig economy platform taking responsibility for the learning and development of its employees.”
Dean Forbes, CEO at CoreHR, also welcomed the move, applauding the company’s commitment to the personal and professional development of its riders.
“Regardless of status, employees have a huge impact on company culture and building a multi-skilled and motivated workforce is key for growth,” he said.
“Allowing flexible development opportunities empowers all workers to strive for an even higher level of choice and independence, with the ability to develop and hone additional skills. By continuously raising the bar in terms of employee engagement, organisations set their existing workforce up for success and become highly desirable places to work.”
Deliveroo riders are among the gig economy workers currently classed as self-employed following a ruling by the Central Arbitration Committee last November, exempting them from rights such as pensions and holiday pay. Figures released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) in February found the number of self-employed people has increased from 3.3 million in 2001 to 4.8 million in 2017, with people aged 16-24 the second fastest-growing group.
“There are two strands to the future of L&D – one is the benefit to the organisation, and the other is the needs of the individual,” Lancaster said. “There has to be recognition that the workforce is increasingly flexible and transient, and organisations that aspire to be great places to work should be focusing on both of those strands.
“A lot of organisations look at short-term goals rather than medium- and long-term value, so it’s important to look at the bigger picture.”
Deliveroo founder and chief executive Will Shu said: “Lots of our riders are already currently studying, but there are others who might not have that opportunity so I wanted to offer that chance to every single one.
“Riders are at the heart of all we do and we want to provide more support for them – this is just one way we can make that happen.”