October 2023
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TD Magazine

L&D's Skills Challenge

Monday, October 2, 2023

L&D teams solve organizational skills gaps despite depleted capacity and priority.

The biggest challenge employers currently face is the skills and labor shortage. In the changing workforce landscape, it may be up to L&D professionals to close the skills gap.


"COVID-19 forced learning practitioners to address key organizational needs, particularly new ways of working and digital skills," says Andy Lancaster, head of learning at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). "Post-pandemic, the focus must remain on the key drivers and skills underpinning organizational performance and productivity. To achieve this, learning professionals must engage in consultative discussions, leverage data and insights, and foster innovative approaches to provide accessible solutions."

The challenges are wide-ranging. The CIPD's Learning at Work 2023 report outlines numerous obstacles L&D practitioners are up against, particularly a lack of capacity and a lack of priority from their organizations. Of the 1,108 L&D respondents, 53 percent said that despite increasing resources for L&D, their team's workload has also increased.

In addition, 59 percent of respondents said they can meet their organization's changing skills needs, which is a decrease from 69 percent of respondents in 2021. The World Economic Forum's The Future of Jobs Report 2023 states that "sizable minorities of companies" judge skills such as writing, sensory-processing abilities, and manual dexterity to be of declining importance for their workers.


To combat the issues, companies should embrace L&D's organizational importance, suggests the CIPD report; just 39 percent of L&D professionals believe that managers give employees time away from their daily roles to participate in L&D activities.

"Tackling skills gaps is a collective endeavor, one in which learning practitioners have a strategic role to play as they look beyond the traditional confines of producing courses and content," says Laura Overton, author of Learning at Work 2023 and academic fellow of CIPD.

L&D leaders agree that practitioners should continue to learn and experiment to ensure the profession's evolution. Employees concur; in LinkedIn's 2023 Workplace Learning Report, 94 percent of employees said they would stay longer at a company that invests in their learning and development. That aligns with what the report identifies as the top four focus areas for L&D in 2023: aligning learning programs to business goals, upskilling employees, creating a culture of learning, and improving employee retention.

About the Author

Bobby Lewis is a writer for ATD; [email protected].

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