Future Of Learning: Top Five Trends In 2020

Every organization understands the importance of employing and retaining the best employees. But to do this requires a lot. One way organizations can guarantee employee retention and increased productivity is by putting a learning and development (L&D) framework. There are many surveys showing that employees would stay longer in an organization if they see a growth path. According to one such survey by Mercer, 78% of employees reiterated this fact.

The demands for more employee corporate learning has been on the rise in recent years. With the experiences of businesses in 2020, learning and development will continue to top corporate agendas. According to procurement intelligence firm Beroe Inc, the global market for L&D is expected to reach $446.1 billion this year. That said, for the future of learning, if reskilling and upskilling of employees must be effective, organizations must adopt new ways of learning for employees.

According to HR experts, the future of work lies in the ability of L&D to leverage data that’s meaningful and deliver relevant, just-in-time learning to employees. The employee ecosystem is mostly Generation Z and millennials who are new to the workforce. As such, the majority of them have grown in a world of digital enhancement and technological efficiency. To keep their knowledge and capabilities current, employers must put in place learning and development frameworks that focus on accessibility and personalization of the learning experience.

You might also be interested to read: Upskilling And Reskilling: How Companies Must Stay Relevant

In light of this, here are some of the trends that look likely to reshape the future of learning.

The rise of capabilities over skills

Before now, learning and development took place within a traditional learning management system (LMS). In this setting, learning teams would use tests to assess the performance of employees based on their learning experience. After the evaluation period, supervisors had to try and find a correlation between the lessons, assessment scores, retention of learning objectives, and job performance. This system made skill acquisition finite and almost ineffective.

The current demands of the 2020 workplace have rendered this system of reskilling and upskilling unappealing. The future of learning, most especially corporate learning, lies in the ease of access to structured learning courses, and in the ability of employees to apply the newly acquired skills immediately. That is why there’s a trend whereby learning teams work towards developing capabilities employees need to perform their jobs rather than developing skills.

In this new system that uses modern learning platforms, employee learning and development can take place at any time and in any location. The lessons occur in short structured learning courses so employees can acquire skills quickly and apply them to their jobs immediately. This approach enables the learner to search for content they need, learn something in real-time on the job, and immediately apply what they’ve learned. Then the skills are reinforced through their ability to practice what they learn and refer back to the learning system when they need help. This approach ties learning directly to the workers’ abilities to perform their jobs and to produce business outcomes.

Content is still king, but focus is key

When it comes to corporate learning, there are times when upskilling and reskilling of employees is critical to the success of a particular project, and the overall survival of the business. But not all the knowledge needed to increase employee skill exists within the learning management system of the organization. To acquire this mission-critical content, learning and operations teams will have to form critical partnerships. The challenge with this is that an organization ends up having a multiplicity of learning-related solutions in use.

The future of learning now demands that there’s a fundamental and central source from which to acquire new knowledge and skills. And the LMS cannot serve in this regard. As such, companies are seeking new and better learning platforms that serve as the central repository for the content of all types — from traditional operations manuals and training guides to photos, videos, quizzes, and an explosion of proprietary content — that can be used and repurposed across the organization. 

Learner experience takes center stage

Digital technology is growing rapidly and its applications to life and work are boundless. Still, innovators keep finding new ways to make the existing systems more efficient for use. As such, the future of learning lies in the use of these technologies to deliver learning content. And this will spur the shift of learning away from the traditional integrated talent management offerings system.

As it stands, at least 80% of employees work remotely. But because of the existing L&D framework, most learning solutions and content are not designed for mobile learning. One can see why this is ineffective in a world where people work from home.

As such, it’s absolutely essential that learning content is made mobile. By putting a mobile learning system in place, employees can acquire new skills and competencies on the go. There’d be no restriction as regards time or location and employees will be able to use the knowledge acquired to increase proficiency at work.

With modern learning platforms more centered around building, curating, and distributing content for mobile, learner experience is now optimized and meets the needs of modern workers.

Learning in the flow of work

The traditional learning system can create feelings of frustration among employees and managers because it makes it look like they’re spending more time than necessary. All employees want is to acquire skills that will help them improve their work efficiency. According to the report of a study carried out by CEB, 57% of employees expect just-in-time learning to ensure they’re proficient in their jobs.

To eliminate this problem, innovators are creating new learning platforms that’d optimize learning time and allow employees to learn in the flow of work. As this improves the learning experience of employees, these platforms will enable them to improve their efficiency and gain new capabilities with hands-on, just-in-time, and just-for-me information.

Operational learning will emerge

From the beginning, employee training in most companies focuses on corporate training. This was part of the original objectives of learning and development – to build hard and soft foundational technical skills, policies, and ethics. For all the advantages of this type of training, it doesn’t cover the demand for operational training that can help the business process more efficiently.

The main reason for the employee training program is to increase performance and business processes. Organizations are now demanding better role-based knowledge to achieve this. Companies will increasingly be able to unlock this valuable competitive intelligence by aligning their L&D organization with operational learning that resides either within lines of business or with subject matter experts.


  • 6 learning trends to watch for in 2020 | Rila O’Donnell | January 7, 2020
  • How to build a foundation that supports employee learning and performance | Asha Pandey | October 22, 2019

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