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Global Trends in Talent Development in 2016


Thu Apr 07 2016

Global Trends in Talent Development in 2016

As part of a recent research project with the Association for Talent Development (ATD), I worked with a team of researchers from Rothwell & Associates, including William J. Rothwell and Aileen Guerrero Zaballero, to gather some information on global talent development. Over six months, we spoke with 31 thought leaders from all over the world to capture their thinking on talent development on a global scale. We posed 20 questions, gathering 413 pages of transcriptions, which were then transformed into more than 500 pages of theme tables.

The results of the study were captured in the ATD Research report Building a Talent Development Structure Without Borders. This three-part blog series is dedicated to sharing some of the information we gained from those interviews.


Question: What Trends Affect Global Talent Development?

We asked the interviewees to pull out their crystal balls and look into the future. Specifically, we asked what insights they could give us that would affect global talent development and talent development professionals over the next few years.

Insight 1: Technology Change

Blended learning techniques will continue to make their way into the practice of global talent development. Digital learning and networking tools will become more acceptable as formal mechanisms for achieving talent development initiatives, and an increase in using gamification and other fun learning techniques will emerge into the space. A little further out, our experts saw the possibility for neuroscience being incorporated into global talent development programs, increasing its effectiveness on a cognitive level to something we can’t even imagine.

All of this will cause the democratization of learning and a continued “shrinking” of the world. Technology is causing global awareness and affecting our global reach and understanding, giving everyone a close-to-equal right to access learning opportunities. But with all of this good, some bad may come. They predict an increase of concern over intellectual property rights and data security as technology becomes more and more critical to global talent development.

Insight 2: Talent Pipeline Challenges


Dealing with the aging workforce and skill gaps created by the retirement of current leaders will become crucial. This will be compounded by demographic changes in the workforce and dispersed talent. Worker motivation will continue to change, so what attracted people to a company 10 years ago will no longer be relevant.

We will deal with all of these challenges, as well as those caused by an increasingly mobile workforce, in a time when a strong company brand is needed to attract the best employees. Employees will demand more from their employers, including more on-the-job and social learning opportunities, better or different compensation packages, work-life balance programs, and just-in-time learning and development opportunities.

Insight 3: The Need for a New Talent Development Professional

To keep up with all of this, we will need more focused, functional training, and strategic, business-aligned global talent development practices will become common place. This will increase the need for talent development professionals with more overall strategic responsibility and experience with using big data proactively to establish and monitor initiatives.

Insight 4: The Need for New Talent


Globalization will continue to increase the need for workers to develop new ways to problem solve successfully. Our insiders saw a need for more innovative workers and workforces as the global economy continues to expand and work moves from prescriptive to innovative. With the need for more innovative workers comes the need for more-flexible organizations to adapt to the rapidly changing world.

What’s more, as schools encourage more study abroad experiences, our insiders believe we will be delivered a workforce that expects more global-focused organizations that provide more global work opportunities. All of this will cause a more fluid, global workforce, which will increase the importance of global corporations having a local focus on their nonnative markets and change the skills needed to succeed in the workplace of tomorrow.

Insight 5: Company-Provider Partnerships

With the changing world, it will become more important for organizations to partner with teaching and learning experts to design effective talent development programs. This could mean university or private partnerships—or something altogether different. There are already companies like CorpU, where a team of learning scientists partners with research faculty from top business schools around the world to produce Hollywood-style learning modules for the Fortune 1,000 companies.

There are also independent consultants, university Executive Education and Continuing Education Units, and many others doing similar things. As technology evolves, computers could be developed to do the same thing more efficiently. While the exact future is not clear, we can say definitively organizations won’t have to go it alone.

Insight 6: A Smaller World

Lastly, our insiders predict world economic interdependence, in which social and economic crises, emerging markets, and low-cost areas of production affect everyone. With economic interdependence, local government regulation will play an increasingly significant role in corporate operations and we will all need to be globally concerned while having an increased focus on global sustainability.

For a successful future, our thoughts leaders say:

Hiring needs to be updated to include global competencies.I think starting with a global company and how we’re going to get ahead will require following international content, knowledge, and news, and knowing what is happening outside your own region. It's about getting people interested in what is happening in the rest of the world and having that discussion in the interview that this is a required competency from the very start.” 

—Anne Eadie Tice

Head of Talent and Performance Management

 GEMS Education

Training needs to change to include diversity and innovation. “We have to think very differently about how we train people. It’s not about converging onto the right answer; it’s about divergent thinking, problem solving, how we teach people to do that, and how we create organizations that foster this.” 

—Julie Clow

 Senior Vice President, Global Head of People Development


Leadership perspective needs to move toward empathy and authenticity. “We need some kind of stability because it’s how we were built. In a changing environment, an authentic leader is more important than ever. An authentic leader is really thinking about that specific individual, and what that specific individual needs and how you can help him or her.” 

—Luciana Paganato

HR Leadership & Development Director Unilever Latin America

Interested in learning more about global trends in talent development? Join us at the 2016 ATD International Conference & Exposition in Denver for a session on Tuesday, May 24: Build Your Own Talent Development Framework. Read more about the session here!

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