For years, thought leaders, researchers, and other prognosticators have put on their thinking caps, analyzed their data, and consulted their crystal balls in an effort to imagine what organizational training and development will look like in the years ahead.
Worldwide issues that pose challenges for business enterprises range from climate change and cybersecurity to sustainable energies, demographic shifts, and technological advancements. As HR and learning and development professionals consider that future, several of those major trends already underway will influence training by or before 2025.
Obviously, rapid change (of all kinds) will continue—and probably more rapidly than ever. The evolution of technologies will do the same. And demographic shifts will reshape workforces (in ages, cultural backgrounds, education, locations, employee expectations, and many other characteristics). Those factors mean that organizations will need to ramp up their training capabilities.
Employers Will Need to Upskill and Reskill Their Workforces
Wide-ranging changes make upskilling and reskilling necessary if companies are to remain innovative, agile, and competitive. Employees will need to continuously upgrade their capabilities to keep up with new ways in which work will be performed. When jobs become obsolete or automation frees workers to take on new roles, reskilling—teaching the competencies needed to take on entirely new jobs or types of work—will become the order of the day.
Some sources say the new skills needed may become less about hands-on, physical abilities. Rather, soft skills (such as respect, communication, resilience, critical thinking, accountability, etc.) will become the must-haves for success in the workplace.
For HR and L&D, heightened awareness will be increasingly vital to planning and providing appropriate training programs and interventions to ensure alignment of workforce capabilities with business goals.
4 Major Characteristics of Future Training
Many organizations and thought leaders offer predictions about learning and development in the years ahead, sometimes envisioning vast differences, sometimes striking similarities. Four consistent predictions center on training design and delivery:
- eLearning. When training professionals look toward the next decade, many see eLearning not only remaining a popular and flexible choice for content delivery, but expanding significantly. Indeed, what was a $190 billion market in 2018 is forecast to reach $300 billion by 2025.
Given continued proliferation of globally dispersed workers, advances in technologies that support remote work, and escalating demand for training that can be accessed any time and anywhere, L&D practitioners can plan to keep electronic delivery of learning solutions as a core feature of their development portfolios.
Personalization. Already L&D leaders are working to provide employees with customized learning experiences and content. Training designers will continue to create interventions that better meet the unique needs and preferences of individuals--taking into account such considerations as workers’:
- current knowledge and skill levels
preferred learning methods
- organizational level and role
- career aspirations
Such learning personalization aids in motivating and engaging employees in training, while also optimizing time available for learning and tailoring content to that which enhances job performance.
- Micro-learning. As the pace of change gains greater speed, it is clear that employees will have even less time to devote to training. Consequently, L&D designers must adjust content to enable fast, effective consumption, and many predictions about future learning suggest that the already popular bite-sized structure of micro-learning will continue to be refined and applied. Video-based training, in particular, is expected to see reductions in the size of content modules.
- Tech-enhancement. Given the ongoing development of technologies in all areas of business and personal pursuits, it is widely agreed that future training will reflect digital design and delivery upgrades. Employees already enjoy enhanced mobility of learning and the flexibility of multiple-device availability. As this learn-anywhere-on-demand convenience expands, the evolving use of artificial intelligence in learning design will also make content more adaptable, maximizing engagement and relevance for employees, and ROI for organizations.
3 Important Actions HR and L&D Should Take Now
Predictions can help establish expectations and point the way toward likely developments in the future of work and of the training required to accomplish it effectively. But three actions HR and L&D professionals take now can provide the surest and most organization-specific guidance as work and learning evolve. All focus on awareness, and none is a one-and-done undertaking. Rather, the three must be adopted by training leaders as ongoing responsibilities:
1. Scan the environment. As global volatility challenges individuals and organizations, it becomes increasingly important to be vigilant to changes in the world around us. Making it a priority to maintain awareness of the trends affecting our work lives and our personal lives enables us to anticipate potential problems and opportunities, helping build agility and resilience.
2. Monitor two industries. Scanning the environment affords a macro view of our world. Narrowing our focus allows us to also keep a finger on the pulse of two vital industries—(1) the field in which our employers operate and (2) the learning and development industry.
Current knowledge of the field in which we’re employed empowers us to anticipate shifting business interests, production methods, customer demands and other industry-specific occurrences that influence the knowledge and skills requirements of workforces. Monitoring the L&D industry provides vital insights into new approaches to learning design and delivery, exposure to peers, and opportunities for professional development and growth.
3. Participate closely in the business. To ensure that training and development is cost-effective, relevant and drives improvements in individual and organizational performance, it is critical that HR and L&D be closely involved in the business. That means being active partners with those who help shape (and, as needed, re-shape) business and talent strategies. That means providing data-driven plans and recommendations for the training needed to execute those strategies effectively, while also building the capabilities needed to achieve leaders’ goals for the organization’s future.
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