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Trends are Powered by People

Makeda Payne, Learning Consultant

New Year, New Goals

As another new year kicks off, many of us are in goal-setting mode. Reviewing past goals and assessing how far we’ve come with them as well as looking to the future and setting new ones for ourselves. Organizations big and small are in the same mode — and as learning & development professionals, one of the things many of us are doing is looking at trends in the industry.  

A quick google search on the topic will bring back a ton of articles from various learning & development companies that have conducted the surveys and gathered the data to create lists of the top 3 or 5 or 10 future trends in L&D.  Cypher Learning lists the 7 L&D Trends Shaping the 2023 Training Landscape as:

  1. Upskilling
  2. Microlearning
  3. Data-driven learning
  4. Repurposing and outsourcing content
  5. User-generated content
  6. Extended reality (XR) in training
  7. Learning on demand 

While the lists may vary in length and verbiage, these topics are found again and again when one attempts to discern in what direction the industry is moving. The lists, however, won’t give you the complete story because we are in a human-driven industry, and the solutions we create should ultimately be human-centered. The complete story can only be found at the intersection of where these solutions meet employer and employee needs. We must ask ourselves WHY these things have risen in importance with employers. What larger goal are we attempting to solve with each of these tools?


What’s the WHY?

It may appear that each of the topics listed as a future trend are simply a natural outgrowth of technology, a changing workplace, and workforce. But if we take a closer look at the 'why' behind each of them, we see a familiar story playing out. In our last edition, my colleague focused on upskilling, a trend and perhaps even industry ‘buzz-word’. She discussed how the need for upskilling is arising because of the desire for companies to shift from job-centered work to skills-based teams. An additional goal for companies who set upskilling as a number one objective is the desire to address the glaring technology gap that became so apparent when companies shifted to hybrid or remote environments. These two monumental shifts in the workplace, towards a remote and skills-based workforce, are the source for current and future learning trends. They are our 'why' and once we understand this, we have a clearer vision of where L&D is heading.


Who’s the WHY?

That vision becomes even more clear when we gain an understanding of what employees need. The same massive event (Covid) that instigated a shift to a hybrid or remote workplace affected the workforce. Employees had to not only learn how to use new software and systems as they navigated working from home for the first time; but they also had to learn new ways of doing their jobs. Whether that meant adjusting to a skills-based workforce or learning how to effectively manage their staff in a remote work world.  Employees are aware of their skills gaps — whether they are digital, leadership, or role specific — and are actively seeking training and learning opportunities to help them increase their performance and achieve their own goals. They require not just off-the-shelf courses leveraging a combination of the tools and resources listed above, but preferably, personalized learner journeys that meet their specific needs and engage them despite being presented in a hybrid or remote environment.


What Will We Invest?

Of course, there is one other element that influences these trends. Employees want personalized experiences that provide a connection, ring with authenticity, and aren’t performative to help them fill in their skills gaps. Employers want to find ways to upskill their workforce to address gaps and provide the support needed to effectively move to remote skills-based teams. The question becomes how much will we invest in our number one resource, our people? Not simply financially but in terms of time and energy. Will we invest the energy needed to gain an understanding of our workforce? Who they are; where they are; and where they want to go? Will we invest the energy needed to create clear, effective, and engaging learning experiences and journeys so that they can take the reins on their own career development? 


If your one of your goals for 2023 is to provide your greatest resource with the support they need to better support your company, reach out to Ardent today.


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