The world of learning and development (L&D) is on the brink of transformation. The importance of workforce education and skill development has never been greater than it is now. Digital disruption and a tight labor market have compelled business leaders to focus on re- and up-skilling their workforce to close a widening skills gap. LinkedIn’s 2019 Workplace Learning Report suggests that business leaders are increasingly looking to L&D professionals to support the business in strategic workforce planning, including attracting and retaining talent, and ensuring their people have the skills for the future.
Is 2019 the Year of Learning and Development?
LinkedIn’s survey of over 1,200 HR and L&D professionals reveals that the L&D industry is at a tipping point. Increased budgets and executive support are paving the way for L&D professionals to play a more strategic role. According to the report, only 27 percent of L&D professionals listed ‘limited budget’ as a top challenge. For perspective, in 2017, almost half (49 percent) of L&D professionals identified limited budgets as the biggest hurdle to L&D.
As technologies like IoT, artificial intelligence and intelligent automation take over more sophisticated tasks, closing the skills gap has become the top priority for L&D leaders. Therefore, four out of the top seven focus areas for L&D professionals revolve around closing the skills gaps.
The seven focus areas for talent development in 2019 from the LinkedIn report include:
Identify and assess skills gaps
Increase engagement with learning programs
Develop career frameworks
Provide consistent and valuable learning to employees globally
Train for soft skills
Deliver company-specific insights to close organizational skills gaps
Understand the impact of technology and automation on skills development
Armed with more resources and support that they have ever had, L&D leaders are now ready to proactively identify, assess, and close any skills gaps.
Closing the Skills Gaps with Technology
As L&D budgets grow, funding continues to shift from instructor-led training to online learning technologies. LinkedIn’s data shows that compared to three years ago, 59 percent of L&D professionals spend more of their budget on online learning and 39 percent spend less on instructor-led training.
Cloud-based learning technologies make developing learning programs budget-friendly and effective. By leveraging learning platforms, L&D teams can easily upload existing content and deliver it across a range of devices, enabling easy access to learning programs without having to invest in expensive training seminars.
Jodi Younes, L&D Director at Goodway Group, shares three trends she’s tracking for 2019 in the L&D space:
“Personalized Training Experiences: With the advent of AI in learning, entire training paths will be personalized to meet the needs of each learner based on their styles and preferences. Learning leaders will also have access to data to better understand their audiences. What are the learner demographics and professional and educational backgrounds? What are their previous learning experiences? How do they prefer to learn? All that information will play an integral role in helping tailor learning opportunities to audiences.
“Augmented Reality: With so much growth and opportunity in the EdTech space, learning leaders need to find ways to use virtual environments to help employees practice through simulation and master the knowledge needed for their roles. A huge benefit of AR is its ability to make learning fun and engaging while also being easily accessible to learners of all skill levels and backgrounds. Most learners are already always connected and AR is readily accessible via a tablet or smartphone. It can be, as well. By leveraging AR, you can share the most up-to-date materials virtually and move away from expensive hard-copy training materials. Social interaction is another benefit of AR. You can build in opportunities for learners to collaborate, solve problems together and work through activities together. Again, it’s fun! You can also use AR to bring in an element of gamification and keep learners engaged while making the content seem less like traditional training.
“Re-Skilling: As we move more towards a digital-human workforce, soft skills will matter even more. As the types of roles and skills needed continue to change quickly due to workplace automation, reskilling becomes more important than ever. Learning leaders need to understand what the future worker looks like and which skills they need to thrive. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, by 2030, as many as 375 million workers— or roughly 14 percent of the global workforce— may need to switch occupational categories as digitization, automation, and advances in AI disrupt the world of work. This also means we need to prepare our workers for roles that do not even exist yet. Learning leaders need to be informed on the trends for the industry they support to help predict the type of reskilling that needs to take place.”
Jodi believes soft skills will become increasingly important in the age of AI and automation. She says, “It is also important to consider what AI can’t do. AI can’t understand emotional intelligence, people skills, leadership and so much more. With the advancement of technology, we will need less reliance on training people to do things machines can or will accomplish. We need to build their skills on the human element so employees can drive change forward.”
As the pace of disruption increases and skills become the currency in a post-digital era, learning and development will become key to ensuring sustainable business growth over the next few years. New learning technologies with advanced capabilities like AI and analytics will make it not only easier for L&D professionals to do their jobs, but also provide opportunities for innovative companies to push ahead of their competition.
This is the breakout year for learning and development. Budget and resources are finally beginning to catch up with learning needs. And as technology continues to evolve, we predict that learning and development will become even more important to organizations of all sizes.
What are the new and exciting trends you’re tracking in the L&D space? Let us know on Twitter or LinkedIn or Facebook. We’re always listening!