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Learners of the Future
Insights

Designing Learning for Tomorrow: A Millennial Perspective

Thursday, March 31, 2016
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As a Millennial, I read many articles about how we lack soft skills and fail to blend in with the organizations that we enter. We’re also lazy, entitled, and tech-obsessed. Yet despite all these negative stereotypes, we are a competent group of individuals and, ready or not, by 2020 we will make up nearly half the workforce.

It turns out that only 38 percent of today’s talent development functions are prepared for us—the learners of the future. We Millennials may lack certain skills, but talent development professionals can help us develop in these areas. However, to help us do this effectively, talent development functions need to be open to learning about the new challenges approaching.

ATD Research and the Institute for Corporate Productivity, sponsored by Klick Learning Solutions, surveyed more than 400 talent development professionals for the report Learners of the Future. The goal of the study was to create a clearer picture of what talent development professionals can expect in the coming years so they can begin to take action now.

For years, industries have been warned to adjust their technologies to meet Millennials’ needs and competencies. However, it’s not clear that much progress has been made on this front. As of 2015, only 29 percent of learning functions claimed to be using “new learning technologies” to meet their learning and development goals. In contrast, high-performing organizations stay on the cutting edge of new technologies 46 percent of the time. It literally pays keep up with change.

Designing Learning of the Future

“The future will be less about traditional classroom training and more about how we can design experiences from which people can pull learning,” said Laura Asiala, vice president of client relations and public affairs at PYXERA Global.

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So as a talent development professional, what are some things you can start to do now to prepare for the future?

  • Invest in mobile learning. The use of mobile devices increases every year; however, learning functions haven’t adjusted to meet this new demand. Are you part of the 66 percent that is falling behind?
  • Incorporate more blended learning. Seventy percent of talent development professionals surveyed predicted that blended learning will characterize workplace learning in 2020.
  • Use social media to drive social learning. Less than a third of talent development functions use social platforms for informal learning, yet almost half have considered using it. If you’re thinking of implementing a social learning platform, ATD Research recommends that you keep learning fast and easy and remove any barriers for use.

Why Isn’t Talent Development Ready?

Talent development professionals cited many different reasons for being unprepared for future learners, such as:

  • lack of learning budget 
  • lack of learning staff skills to use new tools 
  • future preparedness is not a priority.

However, it is in talent development leaders’ best interest to begin thinking about how to position their function to meet the needs of future learners. In addition to exploring the practices described above, here are some questions to consider:

  • Are there ways I can adjust my budget to meet new learners’ needs? 
  • How can I begin implementing new technologies and preparing for continuous change? 
  • How can our talent development strategy support active preparation for future learners?

Prepare for Tomorrow by Starting Today

The year 2020 is rapidly approaching and talent development functions aren’t prepared to handle the incoming tech-savvy generation. Order a copy of Learners of the Future: Taking Action Today to Prevent Tomorrow’s Talent Crisis to jumpstart your organization’s preparation for tomorrow’s workforce.

About the Author

Clara Von Ins is the Human Capital Specialist at the Association for Talent Development (ATD). Prior to working for ATD, Clara worked for the American Red Cross as the disaster program coordinator in Santa Barbara, California.


Clara received an bachelor’s degree from the Ohio State University in psychology and education. She is currently attending the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill remotely to obtain a master’s degree in public administration with an emphasis on nonprofit management and community and economic development. 

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