Organizations are demanding more from learning teams. Ways of working, customer needs, and competition are constantly changing. Business leaders are looking to learning and HR partners to build adaptability and agility into the workforce and organizational structures. When all industries are doing things differently, it’s critical for learning leaders to adapt by cultivating new skills, rethinking design and delivery, and creating new ways to enable performance improvement.
The future of learning is becoming a more integrated strategic partner to business leadership. GP Strategies’s annual learning trends that teams should consider in 2022 are based on what we see with our customers and partners. Our seven trends include:
1. Enable the hybrid workforceThe dynamics of how, when, and where we work are changing. When we think about this year and what’s next for the future of learning, the focus must be on enabling the hybrid workforce and those who support that workforce. The key to supporting the hybrid workforce is the concept of intentionality. Learning practitioners need to shift how they design learning to what the audience needs and how the organization approaches those needs.
2. Adapt learning to the flow of workWe have more visibility and access into workflow data with the rise of employee experience platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Viva, and Slack. These platforms are broader than learner experience platforms; they provide a connection point between learning, work, and talent engagement.
3. Focus on upskilling for learning and developmentOne of learning and development’s main goals in any organization is to build programs to upskill employees. But it’s important to also look inward. In 2022, it’s critical for learning practitioners to upskill themselves. Learning practitioners need to deepen their skill sets and move outside of comfort zones.
4. Expand application of immersive realities and play with purposeVirtual reality (VR) has been one of our learning trends for some time, and it is more attainable and viable than ever. The technology has evolved, and it’s time to evolve the design.
VR and extended reality (XR) offer ways to explore difficult concepts and tasks in safe environments. The immersive and collaborative learning aspects are moving into more soft skills applications, including team-building escape rooms, problem-solving, critical thinking, and teaching empathy and communication.
5. Design for inclusion as a competitive advantageAccessibility should not be an afterthought. In the US, 26 percent of the population and 19 percent of college students self-identify as having a disability. Ensuring equitable, inclusive, and accessible programs starts with identifying barriers that prevent a learner from accessing information or performing job functions. Once learning teams identify the barriers, they can shift the way they provide access to learning opportunities.
6. Support the rise of the boundaryless academyCorporate academies and universities are coming back but not just for the internal employees. Companies form academies by bringing industries, higher educational institutions, and other corporate entities together to build relationships, fill skills gaps in advance, and potentially reach target new hires before they apply.
This idea flips the concept of proprietary knowledge by using intellectual property as a tool to educate, attract, and retain talent. The boundaryless academy combines both internal and external expertise to cross traditional boundaries. Some organizations even incorporate accreditation and design academies with microcredentialing and certifications.
7. Sustainably integrate innovation as a capabilityNot everything needs to be as innovative as the assembly line, but with the rate of change increasing regularly, organizations need a process for sustainable innovation that builds agility. When putting a process in place to explore and test innovative solutions, organizations can move from reactive to proactive drivers of positive change.
The following are key considerations when establishing a process for innovation:
- Set realistic expectations.
- Integrate a scientific, repeatable process with testing or pilot projects.
- Adopt new strategies and technologies with deliberation and care.
The Future of LearningIn a modern learning experience, learners take accountability for the learning journey, and learning practitioners must foster that idea. Top-down learning won’t satisfy the needs of the entire workforce. Learners need to feel like part of the process and be empowered.
To empower learners, design and deliver learning with open-ended journeys in mind. Deploy learning and resources in creative ways, when and where they are needed. These methods and needs constantly evolve.
By building new skills, designing for modern learners, and implementing a process for innovation, learning teams will build the programs of the future.