Whereas people easily held the same job for thirty years in the past, nowadays you cannot count on your career to last your entire life. Permanent self-improvement is therefore more important than ever. You have to move with the times to stay up-to-date. But how? Thomas: 'Before you enter the job market, the government bears responsibility for your education. From then on, it’s entirely up to you and to what your employers offer. The latter is now failing badly. A personal budget of on average a thousand euros a year doesn’t get you very far.'
'To offer our 7,500 employees development opportunities we partner with an established name', says Thomas. 'Schouten and Nelissen. When Marieke Schouten and my colleague Marieke Zuidema were exchanging ideas about the above-mentioned problem, they came upon an idea that was both brilliant and bold. A way to allow people to learn without limits. 'This new method is called Unlimited Learning. VodafoneZiggo recently introduced it for its entire workforce – from warehouse employees to top level management. Thomas: 'It’s something more companies should do. This is the way to go.'
Decide for yourself
Unlimited learning. It almost sounds too good to be true. But it isn’t, Thomas assures us. How does it work? 'Unlimited Learning is a concept developed by Archipel, a spin-off of Schouten and Nelissen, and us together. The result is a platform with tens of thousands of study possibilities in all shapes and sizes. Online ánd in a classroom. All our employees are using it. It is very simple. You decide for yourself what you want to learn. Money is no object, the only limitation is time.'
'In short, the platform offers three kinds of education', Thomas continues. 'You can attend training courses to further improve your current job skills, you can study to prepare for a new role, or you can work on personal development. For example by taking a Spanish course or a course in mindfulness. There is only one rule. The first two can be done during working hours, but courses in personal development only in your spare time.'
According to Archipel CEO Omar Fouab this step is nothing short of realising a dream. Omar: 'Archipel wants to be the ANWB of the education industry – helping people to get into gear, no matter what. In this, Unlimited Learning is a logical step, as well as an essential one. It is fantastic to make that step together with VodafoneZiggo. Several parties are already claiming to offer the education of the future. But all they do, really, is offer online training options, which the customer has to pay for individually. Unlimited Learning offers every kind of education, also whole-class teaching, that the customer can use to his heart’s content. For this he pays a fixed fee per employee. Some of our programmes are very costly, but the annual fee is modest and even below the national average.'
So, below a thousand euros. How can the costs be so low? 'The 'old-school learning method' is simply not efficient enough', Thomas explains. 'If you are allowed to spend a thousand euros each year on education, you find out pretty soon that it will buy you a few training days. You end up in a classroom with a handful of people and, well, develop away. Far too much energy, far too little result. Companies like Netflix and Spotify demonstrate that the right approach can lead to a hugely varied and rich offer at a low price. Or take a look at Pathé for example, and their unlimited film programme. A raving success. It may seem impossible, but it can work out really well.'
'The quality of our platform is not just reflected in our offer, but also in support and continued development', says Omar. 'This is the responsibility of our Customer Success Team, that surrounds VodafoneZiggo like a honeycomb. Study advisors assist employees in making the right study choices and setting learning goals. In addition, partner managers make sure the right type of study programmes are set up for the future VodafoneZiggo is heading for. Think about 5G that is coming, the rise of chatbots and of Artificial Intelligence. All these innovations require new skills. We keep the portfolio of courses up-to-date on a daily basis, and even arrange for the providers to develop the appropriate courses.'
Thomas Mulder and Omar Fouab clearly have something in common when they talk about Unlimited Learning. A rocklike belief. 'This is it. And it will change everything.' You cannot blame them, can you? But some people do, apparently. Omar: 'We are on the eve of something quite unique, and I’m very proud of that. Even though some think I’m crazy. "Selling a 4000-euro course with not even a quarter of the budget? That is fantasizing." In the meantime, we know it works. And that it will offer unlimited possibilities to a great many people. To improve as a human being, but also to develop the 21st- century skills needed on the job market. That is incredibly cool.'