Learning and development is transforming at a quicker clip in recent years as a crop of new technologies like virtual and augmented reality, automation, and artificial intelligence disrupt our expectations for engaging, action-oriented learning.
The expectations of today’s learner have changed, and corporations must keep pace with those expectations to keep employees happy and attract new talent. But that’s not the only thing driving change in the corporate training landscape. Employers have finally recognized that an organization with a strong learning culture, one that is aligned with business strategies and goals, will outperform its competition.
The Rise of eLearning
From its humble beginnings as computer-based training, the use of eLearning has grown to a multi-billion dollar market. According to Todd Maddox of Amalgam Insights, if you combine the corporate and academic eLearning market, it will surpass the $180 billion mark this 2018. The rising costs of instructor-led, classroom-based training is one factor in the increased use of eLearning. Also, the need for continuous, life-long learning has gradually driven its growth.
Learning and Development professionals have known for years that compliance training is particularly well suited to an eLearning platform. Then there is the increased need for awareness training (e.g., sexual harassment, inclusiveness, and diversity, etc.), topics which are also addressed quite efficiently and effectively with eLearning.
The use of eLearning doesn’t end with compliance and awareness training, however. Increasingly sophisticated platforms have made even soft skills training a practical reality for this approach. Add to that the potential for significant cost savings, and it’s not difficult to predict the continued expansion of eLearning for years to come.
Attracting and Retaining Employees through Learning and Development
Training is increasingly being viewed as an employee incentive, right along with health and retirement benefits. Workers understand that access to training will help them refine existing skills and develop new ones, ultimately making them more successful in their roles. Employee retention is rapidly replacing compliance as a key driver of training.
In fact, attracting and retaining top talent is a major challenge for most corporations today. In a recent Gallup poll, more than half of all currently employed adults are either actively searching for a new job or are at least passively entertaining other career opportunities. Using online training software as part of a digital learning strategy is one way to help employees develop proficiencies that will not only help the company but keep them engaged and productive in their current jobs.
Skills Gap Continues to Grow Among Companies
With the rapid pace of technological development, most employees have realized that they will need to become lifelong learners to remain competitive in today’s workplace. With the continuous emergence of new technologies and new business practices, the skills that were required to succeed yesterday are not the same as those required to succeed today or tomorrow.
Skills shortages are being created by digital transformation across all industries. In fact, many employers are facilitating the re-skilling and up-skilling of employees as a way to keep positions filled that might otherwise have remained vacant while Human Resources worked to recruit the necessary talent. According to a Payscale Research Report, approximately 33% of companies had open positions for six months or more, due to a lack of skilled or qualified candidates.
Companies must increasingly anticipate the benchmarks of the future, and plan proactively to meet them. If employers want to fill skills gaps with appropriately skilled workers, they need to provide employees with the development opportunities to meet the demands of their current as well as future roles.
One effective way to address the skills gap is the use of eLearning and micro-learning. Employees can learn new skills, or refine and update current skills using these highly interactive and agile technologies. Additionally, since they are online and mobile, learners can accomplish their learning objectives more quickly and conveniently.
There is no longer an adequate one-size-fits-all approach that works (if there ever was!). Your employees are coming to you with specific and varied training needs.
One of the biggest emergent trends in training and development is a more individualized approach to training that allows employees more choices in how they approach their own learning. A good LMS that offers a menu of trainings for employees to choose from is a must for this approach.
Adaptive content delivery
Artificially intelligent content delivery that adapts to your employees’ corporate training needs is also emerging as a way to personalize and individualize training.
This type of training (gamification being a good example of adaptive content delivery) predicts learner behavior to keep training relevant, interesting, and fresh.
Soft skills training
Maybe you’ve scoffed at the idea that focused training for soft skills is imperative to the success of your business, but it’s time to reexamine that belief.
The Stanford Research Institute International and the Carnegie Mellon Foundation found that 75% of long-term job success depends upon soft skills mastery and only 25% on technical skills.
Other research from LinkedIn identified soft skills as the number one training priority among CEOs. Soft skills are going to be the future of workplace training in 2019.
VR is truly the future of corporate training. Long a training staple in certain industries (e.g., pilot training and other simulators), VR is now expanding to more areas as a way to practice a skill before it actually needs to be applied.
Would you want to be a neurosurgeon’s very first patient? Probably not. VR allows employees to test-drive important skills with minimal risk.
Online mentorship programs
You may be hiring employees fresh out of college who have never had a job before. Why? The competitive job market has sent many millennials (and beyond) into college in order to compete. However, the resulting college graduates have great technical skills but no understanding of how to apply them.
Online mentorship programs, either through your own company or outside of it, can help coach these inexperienced workers to increase their productivity, longevity, and chances of success.
While careful planning of employee training is important, one of the trends to watch in 2019 is the rise of improvisation in instructional design. This uses only materials readily available in a given space to design instruction and can go far beyond just teaching skills or facts. Improvisational design also teaches problem solving and teamwork, two of the all-important soft skills mentioned above.
Microlearning continues to play a huge part in the future of corporate training, providing employees with easily-digested bites of information or instruction that can be immediately applied to a task or project.
This trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down or going anywhere any time soon.
Exploring Immersive Technology
Much of the current excitement around augmented reality and virtual reality is centered around gaming, but these technologies will have a larger, lasting impact on the L&D. A 2018 Capterra survey on top tech trends found as many as 46% of U.S. small and medium-sized businesses are looking into leveraging VR in the next two years.
Virtual and augmented reality are becoming more accessible each year. These emerging technologies have the greatest potential to help manage change in an organization. AR/VR replaces traditional courses and assessments with a single solution where the mastery required is taught and practiced in a simulated environment.