Workplace Learning Predictions 2020

How can business and learning leaders prepare their workforce for the skills of the future? Here are 5 learning predictions for 2020*.

Learning &development teams are starting to tackle reskilling the workforce

Organizations tend to lay off workers to address obsolete skills and then hire for new skills to move the business forward. However, with tight labor markets, business leaders are beginning to recognize retraining existing talent for new roles as more effective than competing for scarce talent. While reskilling for future skills requires long-term planning, the cost of disruptive layoffs and hiring can be more expensive than providing continuous training for employees.

 Skills mapping will chart the future workforce

With large-scale technology disruption in the next decade, continuous skills mapping will become critical for workforce planning. Forecasting future skills for an organization is not an easy task and a common obstacle when implementing reskilling programs. In part, the challenge is old and new roles aren’t always a perfect match for reskilling.

For many of these future jobs, there are no existing candidates externally with these emerging skills, making internal reskilling the next best option. For example, Amazon is creating career training paths for its warehouse workers to retool for new in-demand roles as data technicians at the company.8

Focused Capability Academies will replace ad hoc training

Companies often use an ad hoc approach for their talent-building efforts, according to McKinsey. They hire new workers equipped with the desired skills or apply ad hoc training when needed. But these quick-fix tactics aren’t enough to transform an organization and continuously keep up with the pace of technology and business change.10

According to McKinsey, “While hiring new talent can address immediate resource needs, such as those required to rapidly build out an organization’s AI practice at the start, it sidesteps a critical need for most organizations: broad capability building across all levels.” This is best accomplished by training current employees using in-house capability programs.

Tapping into the collective brain

To keep skills aligned with the latest trends in the industry, we see companies increasingly rely on communities of practice. For example, when developers run into a problem with a line of code, they naturally ask their peers for help. But instead of only tapping the shoulder of their neighbor, they’re creating a virtual community of developers to serve as a collective brain.

Communities of practice aren’t just an organic peer learning effort. Learning & development teams are also creating structured learning around their communities. This might include trolling Slack for commonly asked questions and creating content for in-person and virtual sessions around these issues. Online courses or lectures can be assigned as pre-work while in-person sessions focus on hands-on practice and discussion. In 2020 more companies are expected to rely on social learning.

Organizations will build an internal talent marketplace

The old way of structuring your workforce based on fixed roles is not the optimal way to support a fast-moving business. Organizations will need to shift to more agile and flexible networked teams focused on projects, instead of fixed roles. Similar to how consulting firms or the gig economy operates, team members would be selected for a specific project based on their skills, not their role. They may work on a diverse range of projects throughout the year. Teams may change based on the project.


*Udemy 2020 Workplace Learning Trends Report

Photo: Unsplash


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