The Future of Learning

The HR profession has changed significantly over the past decades as the profession has evolved from basic personnel management to a strategic business function that leads a wide range of practices and competencies. Today’s HR powers not only a service economy, but a knowledge economy, and as this knowledge economy grows, it is critical that organizations also evolve their approach to talent.

Talent management isn’t just about finding people and onboarding them – it is about making sure an organization is looking for the right kind of talent, attracting that talent, developing that talent through a structured process, and working to retain key talent – with key competencies that contribute to organizational success. This process must close today’s skills gaps while identifying and developing or acquiring the skills required for a more successful tomorrow.

How do we accomplish this? To determine where we should go, it is instructive first to look back at where we have been.

Thirty years ago, there was a clear split in terms between what training in organizations was bought by HR and what was bought by other, operational functions. At that time, HR was much more likely to be the organization to buy commoditized training (ex: compliance training, generic leadership development programs, basic communication skills, etc.). Functional organizations then purchased training in support of specific projects or programs. This resulted in a division of competencies – basic competencies that everyone had to possess and more strategic competencies. But organizational lacked an integrated, comprehensive model for identifying, defining, and developing needed competencies.

In today’s world, HR professionals are business leaders with an expertise in Human Resources. Part of this expertise must be in the development of competencies across the full range of organizational functions and skill sets. Using a competency-based framework helps ensure that HR plays a strategic role in preparing the organization for tomorrow. A competency-based framework also serves as a lens to identify, view and direct learning opportunities. This ensures that future training development and purchases meet the current needs and anticipate the future needs of a changing organization.

So, what does this mean for the future?

The world of learning and development is undergoing significant changes. There will be more opportunities in the near future to simulate the environments in which we work – especially with the application of artificial intelligence (AI). Combining AI with adaptive learning creates learning and development systems that get really smart at figuring out how competent an individual is in a specific area. These dynamic assessments are used to provide a learning and development path that will achieve a desired competency as efficiently as possible. AI will likely fundamentally change the competency map in many organizations.


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