The triumph of learning and development is causing these three things

Workforce learning and development is now more strategically important than ever. What are three things the world’s top L&D professionals are prioritising right now?

The learning and development function is experiencing something of a moment in 2021.

Often the first thing to be cut in difficult times, the change being wrought by technology and a pandemic is instead underlining the importance of L&D to the survival of organisations over time.

This is causing learning and development professionals to shift their priorities. Here are the three most important trends shaping the present activities of L&D teams around the globe.

1. The pursuit of the renewable employee resource 

Upskilling and reskilling has risen to prominence over the past year. While in the past organisations had the luxury of hiring in talent as staff turned over at a more leisurely pace, the pace of change is now forcing the hand of L&D and HR teams who are asking if this approach is still viable.

For instance, LinkedIn Learning’s 2021 Workplace Learning Report found that 60% of L&D professionals in Australia named their number one focus area for this year as upskilling and reskilling, followed by leadership and management (52%) and virtual onboarding (39%).

The task has fallen to L&D to create a renewable employee resource to meet shifting needs through stronger training and internal mobility. Mobility is seen as most likely possible for engaged learners (according to 82% of L&D professionals), who are also likely to stay almost two times longer.

 

2. The rise to power of the T-shaped employee

New types of skills have become important. While deep skills in one domain can still be critical to success, more and more organisations are looking at the importance of soft skills as well as how all skills interact with and are improved through digital mediums and tools, or digital fluency.

Employees who have multiple skill sets or transferrable skills across different parts of an organisation are becoming more valuable, because they are more mobile and able to adapt to new demands and opportunities as they arise, and can use digital tools to accelerate success.

This includes self-mastery skills. According to The 2021 Workplace Learning Trends Report from online learning platform Udemy, business courses on anxiety management, resilience, stress management, mediation, mindfulness and productivity are being sought be employers and staff.

 

3. The triumph of digital learning and technology

This new paradigm is seeing more L&D leaders seek out digital learning platforms and tools that can support a more modern approach to fast-paced employee upskilling and reskilling while engaging and retaining them through the journey (long a difficult challenge for corporates).

For example Deloitte argues a shift is occurring from ‘push’ to ‘pull’ learning pathways. Rather than classroom-style learning courses in regimented formats dictated from top-down to meet strict organisational structures, companies are offering anytime access to learning via digital devices along with the flexibility for individuals to pursue their own learning interests through curated content.

Developments like this can be supercharged with complementary technologies, like recognising employee achievements and skills with digital credentials. By offering employees or even others credentials like IBM has pioneered, employees are able to chart an employee course through the skills and knowledge pathways while increasing public recognition of their employer brand.