2022 was a landmark year. After almost two years of ‘will we, won’t we,’ the world opened, and people started making their way back to their workplaces. As difficult as the previous two years were with the pandemic raging and humanity enduring the worst of it, they did change our whole concept of workplace and work.
As organizations, the world over switch over to hybrid and distributed working models and try to catch up with digital transformation, the biggest impact has been felt in the world of learning and skills development. The accelerated technology developments have created skill gaps and reduced employee engagement. The result, Learning and Development (L&D) departments have now come to the fore, leading the change initiatives, and reskilling and upskilling are becoming the key differentiator.
So, what does the learning landscape look like in the year 2023? Here are some of the predictions that we have:
Increased Focus on Skills and Skilling
The past two years have seen organizations adopting new technologies at an accelerated pace. However, this same shift to new technologies has also created a steadily widening skills gap. According to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Future of Jobs Report, 2020, 44% of the skills that employees will need to perform their roles effectively will change by 2025.
Moreover, according to the Citrix Talent Accelerator report, 82% of employees and 62% of HR directors believe that workers will need to reskill or upskill at least once a year to maintain a competitive advantage in a global job market.
Keeping in mind the skills gap and the increasingly competitive labor market, it will be critical for organizations to focus on cultivating the talent they already have. Having a strategy in place to upskill and reskill its workforce will be the key differentiator for organizations in not just retaining talent, but also attracting new recruits.
According to the WEF report, employers surveyed planned to offer reskilling and upskilling to just over 70% of their employees by 2025.
Fig: Top 15 Skills for 2025
Focus on Creating Growth Paths and Skills Acquisition
Employees nowadays are looking to learn, grow, and evolve. Almost 87% of the respondents in a Gallup survey considered professional and career growth opportunities crucial when applying for a job. Almost 59% cited learning opportunities as another important consideration.
It’s not just a desire to rise in the ranks that is driving them, but a need to stay relevant in a fast-changing market. According to one report by Gartner, over 30% of the skills that were categorized as required skills three years ago will soon be obsolete. With skills that are in demand today becoming irrelevant almost overnight, it is only natural that employees seek to learn and constantly upgrade their skills and knowledge.
Organizations will need to identify the skills needed for various roles and create learning pathways for their employees or risk losing their employees in this highly competitive market. According to HR.com and Development Dimensions International, 2020, 91% of HR professionals are of the opinion that a journey-based approach to training, with emphasis on continuous learning and a mix of different training modalities, is the most effective training strategy.
For a workforce that is driven by knowledge and power, a personalized continuous learning program is an indicator that the organization is willing to invest in its people and their future. This in turn will boost employee retention and loyalty.
Continued Rise of Immersive Learning
We might not quite have people attending meetings holographically, but the virtual universe is becoming increasingly real. The technology behind Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) is advancing by leaps and bounds. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Semi-annual Augmented and Virtual Reality Spending Guide, spending on AR/VR is predicted to be $160 billion by 2023.
In fact, as some reports have it, around 75% of Forbes World’s Most Valuable Brands have already created some type of AR/VR experience. However, we can expect these immersive technologies to gain a little more momentum and exposure in the coming year and those to follow. With businesses looking to increase ROI on investments made, IDC projects that the next large-scale application of immersive technologies will be in training, roughly $4.1 billion.
Immersive technologies can make training much more interesting, engaging, and relevant. In addition, immersive technologies provide the opportunity for employees to train in situations that might be very expensive, difficult, or unsafe to reproduce in the real world. There are already use cases for immersive technologies in training in sectors such as heavy machinery operations, aviation, medicine, and healthcare.
More Emphasis on Micro-learning and Just-in-Time Learning
Gone are the days of training that lasted hours or even days. Employees today have more on their plate than ever and between various daily tasks and deadlines, training often goes on the back burner.
According to a study by the University of California-Irvine:
- On average, employees spend about 11 minutes on a task before they are interrupted by something or someone. In these 11 minutes, they engage in multiple short and quick tasks that average about 3 minutes each.
- The average user spends only about 20 seconds browsing a piece of digital content before moving on to the next.
- Added to that is the fact that learning in stretches of 3-7 minutes matches the working memory capacity of humans.
People learn and retain more when they get information in short bursts that are spaced out. In fact, according to RPS Research, learners retain up to 80% of what they learn through microlearning as opposed to just 10% from a traditional training session.
To make things easier for the learners and to ensure that they can fit training into their busy schedules, the emphasis will be on smaller, bite-sized trainings. With over 94% of L&D professionals saying they prefer microlearning because their learners also prefer it, this mode of training is likely to see an uptick.
Advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Learning Experience Platforms
The other side of just-in-time learning, and the personalized learning journey is Artificial Intelligence and Content Curation. AI tools could be used to direct learners to the correct learning resource that could help them perform a particular task. This ensures that the average learners are able to access just the information they need, at the time they need it.
AI is also likely to be used to create personalized learning paths, curriculums, and unique learning experiences. AI bots can be used to help learners navigate their way through learning modules. Bots can also be used to resolve common queries, direct learners to specific resources for additional information, provide tools, and tips.
The future belongs to intelligent learning delivery platforms that can use collected data to personalize the learner's experience. They can also be used to analyze data generated by learners to predict their needs, behavior, and make content recommendations based on career goals and competencies.
Perhaps a textbook example for AI bots would be ChatGPT, a tool that allows you to have human-like conversations with a chatbot. Launched in November 2022 by OpenAI, an AI research and deployment company, the AI tool has created a buzz.
The tool uses natural language processing (NLP) and is designed to mimic a human conversation, making it a great tool for use in learning. In corporate training and education, the chatbot can be used to answer the learners’ questions in an interactive and engaging manner. It can also be used to provide learners with answers to common questions and create an individualized learning experience based on the employee’s individual needs.
Interacting in a more conversational manner means learners can become more involved and engaged with the learning process. The chatbot can also be used to track employee progress and give feedback.
Increased Focus on User-Generated Content
Almost every organization has its own ready pool of knowledge—knowledge that employees have gained from years of experience. A lot of specialized knowledge can be in the minds of a few key specialists which might very well be lost unless tapped and shared.
Complementing this is the fact that employees are more comfortable learning from their peers or mentors than from strangers who might or might not have the same shared work experiences. The information sharing that happens within organizations in informal, peer-to-peer settings is a very powerful training tool.
Google, for example, began experimenting with this form of training way back in 2007. Today is a program called G2G (Googlers-to-Googlers)-an internal volunteer network of Google employees who voluntarily dedicate a portion of their time to helping their peers learn and grow; all outside of their core job responsibilities. As a result, “nearly 80% of all internal training at Google is provided through the g2g community - whether it's by teaching courses, providing 1:1 mentoring, or designing learning materials”.
Advancements in Internet-based technologies and the proliferation of user-friendly content-sharing platforms have made it very easy for people to share information. These tools also allow organizations to catalog their content and even make it searchable, making it easier for learners to locate the right information, when they need it.
Learning departments today are encouraging the development of learning content by users. This content is then shared via intranets, corporate blogs, forums, short videos, case studies, and reviews.
It is the crowdsourcing of learning, the gathering, and sharing of knowledge through larger online communities. It is a way to put the learner at the center of your learning initiative and make your training more personal and relevant.
2023 comes with the possibility of a recession and profound transformation in most businesses. The learning function will have to continue to adapt and support organizations in whatever new situations they may find themselves. Organizations that invest in a comprehensive learning strategy for their employees will have a better-equipped and better-engaged workforce and be better equipped for growth.
Reach out to us today for your Digital Learning needs. We offer a host of learning services to boost the performance of your employees in this digital age.
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