Deloitte said Thursday it will be investing $1.4 billion in learning and development for its employees, especially in the area of improving their technology skills.
The initiative, known as Project 120, uses real-time sensing technology to identify and anticipate emerging needs among Deloitte’s employees so they can improve their technology and leadership skills. The project is named after an estimate of the top speed of thought, believed to be up to 120 meters per second. Project 120 will include personalized learning and development pathways to develop critical technology and leadership skills among the firm’s growing employee base to meet market demands of the future. Deloitte will use the funds to improve its tech and leadership curricula and expand its Deloitte University facilities, including new and future academic and business collaborations.
“It’s about betting big on our people,” said Eric Dingler, chief learning officer at Deloitte. “Deloitte has a track record of doing that, and we’re doing it again, and also to set a new standard in L&D. At its core, the fundamental element of Project 120 is to shift from static curriculum-based learning that occurs at a moment in time, often separated from when people need it to more dynamic development experiences where we’re able to customize it to the individual, and to deliver a lot more of it in the flow of work.”
One element of the investment is going to Deloitte Technology Academy. “That’s about advancing tech skills ahead of the market,” said Dingler. “With that, we’re going to build out a skills-based development engine to reskill and upskill thousands of professionals in leading-edge technologies.
Another element focuses on leadership development. “We want to make leadership skills available to everyone, and we want to do more,” said Dingler. “Historically, we’ve invested heavily in leadership to drive business performance. We want to continue that. But now we want to double down in focusing on the human potential of people so they can thrive today and in the future of work.”
A third element is Deloitte University, which the firm sees as a brand differentiator and a hallmark of its employees growth experiences. “If I were to sum it up, Project 120 is about Deloitte making a commitment to be an educator, not just an employer anymore,” said Dingler.
“We see Project 120 as a three-year transformation journey,” said Dingler. “The $1.4 billion represents our investment in this fiscal year. We’re in the process of planning out the future. We’re in year one right now of Project 120. I don’t know the exact amounts but we do expect continued investment. We’re spending a lot this year to build out some of these elements, and we’re just now launching the process of planning for the next fiscal years.”
Project 120 is already delivering over 1 million hours of training on future applications of technologies like artificial intelligence, cloud, cyber, data analytics, 5G and quantum computing through the Deloitte Technology Academy.
Deloitte is planning to invest even more than $1.4 billion in the project over the next three years.
“Deloitte’s Tech Academy, one of the three primary areas of the investment, is focused on the marketplace technologies that Deloitte needs in order to serve our clients and professionals to thrive in a tech-enabled world,” said Dingler. “We know that today it’s not simply enough just to keep pace with technology adoption. We’re using Project 120 and standing up Deloitte Tech Academy to envision the tech skills markets are going to demand five or 10 years from now and then designing the learning experiences to corporate talent now.”
Given the war for talent, Deloitte has been hiring employees who may not have the most advanced technology skills right now, but are highly qualified in other ways.
“Because it’s a competitive market for talent out there we developed a foundational computing curriculum,” said Dingler. “Within eight months, we curated a lot of it. That has over 300 different learning pathways. So it’s not one size fits all. It’s highly customizable. Those experiences consist of both formal learning programs, sandboxes where they can play, mock project experiences they have to do and assessments. Over this immersive experience, it’s more than just formal learning. We’re actually getting them ready so they can immediately go do that work.” Within Deloitte Tech Academy, there’s already a Cloud Institute, a Cyber Academy, an AI Academy, and is expanding into data and analytics, quantum, 5G and more. “These are all technologies we’re going to need to serve our clients’ increasingly complex business problems,” said Dingler.
Training will be both in person at Deloitte University facilities and remote at employees’ desks.
“These development experiences that we’re designing and curating are multimodality, multichannel and as much as possible always on,” said Dingler. “We know that there’s been a sea change in employees’ expectations of companies today. If you look at our most recent reports, the 2022 Deloitte Global Millennial and Gen Z Report, it found that L&D opportunities needed to be vast, multichannel multimodality, so we are designing and developing these experiences that include both formal learning in different channels and different types, and to have both experiences and other components.”
Deloitte is splitting up the training programs to make it more convenient and accessible to employees so it doesn’t interfere with their other work.
“Project 120 marks a fundamental shift for how learning and development should be designed and delivered,” said Dingler. “We’ve traditionally built learning based on the needs of the business outcomes. With Project 120, we’re trying to make sure that our learning and development is built to meet the needs of our people and our business as an inevitable outcome. It’s a different shift. The leadership aspect is focusing on human potential to also help our professionals be able to realize it’s not just about doing the work and driving the business performance, but it’s about how they realize themselves. How do they unleash their potential? We believe, with technology unleashing their potential and transforming how we do it, we’re going to drive organizational agility and we’re going to drive individual agility, and that will be a powerful differentiator in the talent marketplace for us.”
In separate news Thursday, Deloitte released its fourth-quarter CFO Signals survey, which presented a gloomy picture overall. It found that cost management and financial performance were cited most often as CFOs’ top priorities heading into 2023, followed by growth both organically and inorganically. CFOs’ current sentiment and expectations declined nearly across the board, with a small uptick in North America being the only exception. That held true for their assessment of the economies a year away as well. The number of CFOs who believe now is a good time to take greater risks dropped to the lowest percent since the second quarter of 2020.
The proportion of CFOs who feel pessimistic about their companies’ financial prospects increased to the highest levels since Q2 of 2020. Revenues and earnings expectations both dropped. More CFOs cited a potential recession as the major constraint on their companies’ financial performance goals, a departure from the findings from the previous survey in the third quarter of this year. While domestic hiring growth expectations continued to slip further, CFOs indicated they still plan to hire more people than they lay off.
“Deloitte’s latest CFO Signals survey reveals that the challenging economic environment that persisted throughout 2022 has impacted CFOs, both in their assessments of global economies and in their planning with respect to strategy, capital, operations and talent for 2023,” said Steve Gallucci, national managing partner of the U.S. CFO program at Deloitte. “Still, CFOs don’t appear to be pulling back on new business investments, introduction of new services or products, or their use of automation and digital technologies.”
Remote work survey
Deloitte’s tax practice also released a survey in which it polled more than 800 tax, HR, finance, mobility and payroll professionals about their remote work policies moving into 2023 and the future. The top challenge they cited was policy and regulation (46%). Most of the respondents said their goal in implementing remote work included enhancing the employee experience (84%), expanding the talent pool (59%), promoting diversity and inclusion (39%), and enabling an alternate career path for employees (10%).
Tax compliance and compliance with regulations were cited as among the top challenges for organizations. The respondents also cited labor concerns with immigration, right-to-work laws, day thresholds and eligibility criteria that could expose their organization to tax and legal risks.