2019 Learning Trends – Looking Back to Look Forward

2019 Learning Trends – Looking Back to Look Forward

There are ongoing Learning and Development trends that claimed more attention in 2019. In no particular order, here they are:

  • LinkedIn Learning found that its #1 topic learned across all regions of the world was communication. As more and more organizations are seeing the value in promoting business skills like interpersonal relations, emotional intelligence (EQ), conflict management, and fostering a civil and respectful workplace, communication becomes more important. As Clare Dygert, Director of Instructional Design at SweetRush observed that helping employees build empathy for others has risen dramatically as a topic in workplace learning. “While it’s always been an important area of personal and professional growth, what’s happened now is that there’s enough of a roar that we’re hearing it.”
  • The importance of business skill training as part of an ethics and compliance program is another significant trend. As eLearning Industry noted, “The shift here is a stronger emphasis on teaching decision-making and judgment within the key topics of the code of conduct, data privacy, unconscious bias, and harassment.”
  • According to the 2019 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends, 65% of leaders cited AI and robotics as an important or very important issue in human capital. Yet, only 26% of surveyed organizations are ready or very ready to address the impact of these technologies.
  • With unemployment in the US at historic lows and the resulting tight labor markets, business leaders realize that retraining existing employees for new roles is more effective than recruiting in-demand scarce talent. This “reskilling” is not merely in hard (technical) skills but also business skills that improve communication, teamwork, critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making. Reskilling may take a lot of planning and investment yet, according to training thought leader Josh Bersin, “it can cost as much as six times more to hire from the outside than to build from within.” Toward this end, 59% of learning and development departments helped to reskill 10–20% of its organization’s workforce in the past year.
  • Another challenging trend is the further evolution of the so-called gig economy and remote “employees.” More and more people are working from home (or their favorite coffee shop), either taking on project after project or as a virtual employee. This trend necessitates organizations to think strategically about how best to train these individuals, including how to ensure that those who perform work remotely understand and comply with data security and personal information privacy laws and standards.
  • It almost goes without saying that more and more organizations are adopting a “mobile first” training strategy. Many among the workforce indeed prefer learning from their smartphones, although some organizations understandable prohibit the use of personal phones while on the job, for safety as well as productivity reasons. Still, mobile first already has required a new instructional design and course authoring approach to mPhone learners. For example, instructional designers need to find alternatives to such coming learning activities as drag and drop, given the limited “landscape” of smartphone screens.

For any organization, regardless of what trends are relevant or not, when it comes to learning and development, like sharks, we need to keep moving or die. Or, ending with another maritime, as Warren Buffet said, “In a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.”

Larry Bograd is Senior Director, Product Development at Syntrio, Inc. He is a twenty-year veteran of the training industry, serving as a learning consultant, director of content strategy, senior instructional designer, and scriptwriter. At Syntrio, he directs its Business Skills Library. He may be reached at lbograd@syntrio.com.

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