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ATD Blog

It’s the Perfect Time to Take Charge of Your Career

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Professional development has morphed from being nice-to-have to a requirement, especially among modern learners who put a premium on career growth. Employees are taking greater ownership of their skill needs and development. The COVID-19 pandemic has made people take stock of their skills and figure out what new skills they may need to be relevant and competitive in today’s environment.

Expectations of today’s learners have changed, and according to a Randstad study, workers feel professionally empowered in new ways as they reassess their careers and the role work plays in their lives. They are pursuing new careers, seeking new skills, and yearning to attain work-life balance. As workers have new professional expectations, employers must adapt accordingly to retain and attract top talent.

Workers want more career growth, flexibility in their workday, and better pay. Surveys show that 94 percent of learners would stay at a company if it invested in their career growth and development. According to the BeameryTalent Index, 83 percent of employees think companies should help with career progression, yet 44 percent say their employers don’t have talent acceleration programs. If a company doesn’t give its employees space to grow, they can’t be expected to remain at the company. This provides opportunities not only for employees, but for talent development (TD) professionals who can drive that career growth through learning programs.

As workers place greater importance on professional learning, TD professionals play a critical role by assessing what skills need a boost, guiding employees to internal and external learning opportunities, and then tracking these new skills and credentials with managers, HR, and other leaders. Finding the overlap between the capabilities necessary to maintain relevance in an evolving work landscape, aligning talent toward the achievement of business goals, and enabling human growth and development is the work of the TD professional. And this work has never had higher stakes than it does today.

Learner Expectations

Learner expectations have evolved. Learners learn at the point of need, in the evenings and on weekends, at their desk, during breaks and at lunch, and on the way to and from the office. According to the LinkedIn Learning “2021 Workplace Learning Report,” Gen Z learners watched 50 percent more hours per learner of learning content in 2020 versus 2019, and 76 percent of Gen Z learners believe learning is the key to a successful career.


“The number of Gen Z learners on LinkedIn Learning increased by two and a half times in 2020, compared to 2019, representing the highest increase of any generation,” according to the LinkedIn Learning report. “Gen Z learners watched 50 percent more hours per learner in 2020, compared to 2019.”

Learning opportunities help people grow skills and careers. They have never been more flexible, accessible, or personalized. Both formal and informal learning is available for workers to harness whenever and however they want it.


Competitive Advantage

High-performing organizations—those with better human capital and business outcomes—are more likely to create career paths, promote programs and partnerships, and access platforms and people data, according to HCI’s “Talent Pulse 7.4 Recruiting from Within and Developing Internal Mobility Strategies.”

The report finds that 73 percent of high-performing companies have internal mobility strategies. Most survey respondents (87 percent) agree that hiring is less expensive when the hire comes from inside the organization. Also, they practice internal talent mobility to develop employees’ careers for roles within the company and as an employee retention strategy.

Upskilling and reskilling has gained a renewed interest in organizations, so fusing learning into the workplace culture is imperative if organizations want to retain their employees. HR and talent development data from Udemy’s “2022 Workplace Learning Trends Report” show that HR and talent development teams are increasingly creating development content tailored to their company’s needs and personalized for their workforce.

Now is the time to have career growth conversations with your employer and to express your goals and expectations for the future.

For more than 75 years, ATD has empowered talent development professionals with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful and remain competitive. ATD Education works to set standards for and deliver in-person and online learning programs tailored to the specific needs of the TD profession. As an established industry leader continuously adapting to the evolving talent environment, ATD Education has the courses and certification programs leaders need.

About the Author

Paula Ketter is ATD's content strategist. Previously, she served as editor of ATD's periodicals.

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