As we take our first steps towards 2024, it is difficult to imagine what this year will bring for HR and L&D. Last year was tumultuous, with a challenging economic environment, persistent skills shortages and changing employee expectations, as well as the rise of generative AI. Where learning trends will go next is anyone’s guess.
Fortunately, despite today’s uncertain dynamics, 2024 brings with it a multitude of possibilities. Of course, HR and learning leaders will still face a widening skills gap, which is expected to cost companies $8.5 trillion in unrealized revenue by 2030. But creative thinking and innovative technologies could provide the much-needed answers.
With this in mind, here are four key learning trends that can help employers prepare for a smoother road ahead…
4 most important learning trends for 2024
1. The digitalization of learning is accelerating
Learning is increasingly becoming a digital experience. MOOCs, LMSs, LXPs, online academies and other digital solutions now make learning available whenever and wherever people want to participate.
This will go a step further in 2024, thanks to advances in AI. Soon, anyone can ask a personal AI learning coach to recommend the best content, courses, and mentors to advance their careers. AI will personalize learning for each individual at levels we have never seen before. This will help bridge knowledge gaps much faster and easier. Additionally, the data and analytics available to L&D will further improve resource allocation and better inform learning strategy.
In addition, many organizations are exploring virtual and mixed reality. This increases learning by displaying timely, relevant information on headsets as employees go through their workday. For example, the Apple Vision Pro headset will soon be launched in the US. It will be exciting to see how developers respond with improved learning experiences for employees.
2. Skills become a driver of success
In 2023, we heard rumblings about skills transformation first. Now, 80% of HR and business leaders agree that putting skills first is a better way to get work done. This entails skills-based learning, which aligns skills and job readiness with business objectives and individual career aspirations.
Skills-based learning includes five key components:
- Skills identification — Systematically define the skills your organization needs for different roles and map their current availability within your workforce.
- Skills gap analysis – Find what’s missing. Evaluate the skills your organization needs in terms of skill level and the amount of talent required. Once you identify these skill gaps, you can develop learning strategies that help individuals develop the desired competencies.
- Skill Goals — Set specific goals for the strength and quantity of skills your organization needs to execute its business strategy and the skill level employees need to develop to achieve the critical skills you have identified.
- Validation of skills — Affirm the employee’s skill with a degree of fidelity. Low-fidelity validation methods include self-assessments, manager assessments, skill inference, and so on. In contrast, you will find a high degree of reliability in direct observation, formal assessments and certifications.
- Skills Insights — Leverage skills data to determine trends in skill progression, velocity, and value. These key insights help drive business decisions and measure the impact of your organization’s skills-based learning efforts.
3. Learning flows throughout the employee life cycle
Previously, organizations viewed learning as a process that only occurs during the development phase of the talent lifecycle. However, that is changing as more L&D teams collaborate with colleagues in HR, talent management, talent acquisition and even total rewards.
Employers are increasingly striving to integrate learning into all talent processes. For example:
- Creating more relevant, useful onboarding experiences
- Helping employees more easily find and navigate routes to new internal opportunities or prepare for an internal redeployment
- Improve performance by ensuring employees focus on the skills needed for higher levels of performance
- Increasing wages as people develop in-demand skills
- Pay bonuses for skill progression
- Capturing skills data during the offboarding process.
Learning goes beyond talent processes. It doesn’t have to stop when someone quits their job, completes an in-service training program, graduates from school, or reaches a certain age. The challenge for L&D is to facilitate this continuous process so that learning seems more naturally available every day.
Learning activities will increasingly fit seamlessly into the workflow, regardless of where an employee is, what their agenda is, or what work tasks and responsibilities are on their agenda.
Learning will be designed to fit more intuitively into people’s lives. This can take many forms. It could mean discovering useful information on the go as you interact with colleagues on social work channels, receiving automated prompts as you complete project-based activities, proactively asking a chatbot tough questions you can’t answer, accessing a ongoing online course from a mobile device. device, or even receiving periodic text message reminders to take the time to learn (including suggested ways to participate),
4. L&D delivers more tangible business value
Will 2024 finally be the year that L&D speaks in business terms? With the economy still top of mind for leaders, L&D must clearly demonstrate value. This starts with metrics such as all talent processes, sustainability and the percentage of upskilled talent deployed or in different roles.
Learning leaders will become accustomed to reporting how ready their workforce is for a specific disruption or opportunity. Learning could even become a standard rule in organizations’ ESG reports. A select number of companies such as Allianz, Tenaris, Allstate and Verizon already include commentary on corporate learning initiatives in sustainability and annual reports.
In addition, forward-thinking companies will begin reporting on the economic value of their skills portfolio. This shows that we want to treat talent as a true asset, based on the financial value associated with their skills portfolio.
Learning trends point to a better future
The future of L&D is bursting with potential. To take full advantage of these opportunities, prepare your technology infrastructure, business processes and work culture for skills learning.
Start with trends that seem more relevant to your organization’s mission and business objectives. Make sure you take note – and don’t be tempted to boil the ocean. Focusing on a handful of improvements that you can commit to with confidence will make it easier to adapt to necessary changes.
Also consider choosing learning solutions partners that can prepare you for today’s business challenges, now and in the future. The journey is lighter with one shared interest in success.
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