Stories
Lifelong Learning for Everyone

Lifelong Learning for Everyone

How Unlimited Learning will change the world

Having the same first name might give them a bit of an edge. Marieke Zuidema and Marieke Schouten came up with an ambitious dream program: unlimited learning for all employees of VodafoneZiggo Netherlands - and ideally for all employees world wide. Unlimited Learning is live. “Take a look!”

Chatbots, Artificial Intelligence and 5G. Innovations are launched at VodafoneZiggo in rapid succession. How are employees keeping up with these developments? That is what Marieke Zuidema wanted to find out. She is responsible for employee development at VodafoneZiggo. ‘My colleagues need to quickly acquire new knowledge all the time, and put it into practice. Access to new knowledge is crucial in this respect. That is why my goal was to provide an optimal development plan to all my 7000 colleagues.’

A Mishmash of Courses
In her search for that optimal development plan, Marieke encountered many limitations: Trade unions consider a personal development budget of one thousand euros per year to be sufficient. What can you do with that? One Word course and that just about covers it. I also quickly discovered that the course and training on offer for the professional market was expensive, highly fragmented and simply inadequate. And to make things worse, the market is divided. Training courses come in all shapes and sizes, from all kinds of different agencies - it’s an utter mishmash. I asked myself: couldn't there be one affordable solution for the needs of all our employees?

Employees in Charge
The answer to that question came from Marieke Schouten, director of the successful family business Schouten & Nelissen, a big name in the education sector. The two Mariekes met during Zuidema's search and turned out to share the same ultimate ambition: to make sure that every employee continues to be relevant - to themselves and to their employer. Schouten: ‘So I told Marieke about our 'All you can learn' concept. This gives employees unlimited development opportunities for a fixed amount per year. An in-house emergency response course, for instance, all the way through to higher professional education programmes. Online and offline, for professional and personal development. All offered in one place: our platform Archipel. This innovative concept puts an end to all the red-tape surrounding personal development plans, and allows the employee to be in charge of their own plan'.

Learning by Doing
After the successful discussion, Marieke Zuidema pitched the idea for ‘all you can learn’ to her manager Thomas Mulder, and he too was enthusiastic right away. Shortly thereafter, VodafoneZiggo gave the green light and the adventure of Unlimited Learning could begin. Schouten: We're fine-tuning the entire model, from a brilliant idea to a viable product. Of course, as we go, we come up against the limits of what is feasible and what is not. It is truly learning by doing.'

Already a success
Meanwhile, Unlimited Learning has been launched and is hugely popular. Within two months, more than a thousand VodafoneZiggo employees signed up for courses. Zuidema: ‘One particularly eager person even opted for nine courses all at once. We still need to talk about that, because we do want people to take the learning opportunities seriously.’ Schouten: ‘But one thing is for sure: everyone is happy. Happy with the range of courses available, the intuitive platform and the first courses that have now been completed'. This is also evident in recruitment.’ Zuidema: 'New people sign on with us, because they know they can continue to develop and learn here.’

The ultimate potential of Unlimited
This new concept gave VodafoneZiggo an immediate edge on the labour market. Zuidema: “We don't want to keep this to ourselves. Quite the contrary - all employers need to know that this exists and should start doing it. The fantastic potential of Unlimited Learning will then truly shine through. When each and every employee is used to continuous learning, this will trigger a flywheel of continuous movement and development - something we need more than ever in these times'. Schouten: ‘Exactly, look at what's happening now due to corona. Many people risk losing their jobs and are asking themselves, “Are my skills up to par to be hired again?" The need to be adaptable and remain relevant is now more important than ever.’

Tool against corona
Due to the corona outbreak, the launch of Unlimited Learning did not go as planned. But the crisis also brought new possibilities for the freshly launched platform. Zuidema: ‘On a special corona page, we offered various courses on how to work online. So, right away, Unlimited Learning became a tool for the organisation to quickly make the switch to working from home.’ Schouten: ‘In addition, for many people, this time of corona is a suitable moment for personal development. We see much interest for Dutch and English language courses, but also mindfulness and first aid for children.’ Zuidema: ‘Professionally, many people opt for training programs in IT & Data, such as data insights and design thinking. Leadership, giving and receiving feedback and agile working are also popular topics. It's great to see so much personal development starting to happen. And this does not only benefit VodafoneZiggo. We know that people are happier when working to become the best version of themselves. Everyone should know that Unlimited Learning exists, that it works, and that it is a game changer. Come and take a look!’

Would you like to find out more about Unlimited Learning?

Read the article 'Learning without limits' by our Executive Director HR Thomas Mulder.