A Peek into 2023’s Shifting L&D Agenda: The Role of Individuals and Organizations
2020–2022 has been a massive challenge and change with lasting impacts on the workforce. From job insecurity to greater awareness around mental health and disengagement (felt through the Great Resignation and Quiet Quitting), the employee experience has constantly shifted. The new challenge for employees is to retain their jobs and salary levels, besides nervously opening their emails in the morning. Time has come for employees to take charge of their potential and development.
Amid all this, skill requirements have changed dramatically — due to the rise of widespread AI and automation.
Employees are now taking the reins into their own hands. Whether they plan to stay with their current employer or they, have a second job, or they intend to quit, employees need to focus on their personal development. They realize that in a world where digital currencies can suddenly lose value, commodity prices can suddenly shoot up, and tech giants can short-lay off their workforce, permanence and security are elusive.
The only way to stay competitive in this volatile labour market is to constantly grow one’s professional skills and capabilities. It encroaches upon what was once solely the employer’s domain: learning and development (L&D).
The State of L&D in 2023
In a climate of workplace disengagement, one would imagine that learning is not a top priority for employees. But that is not at all the case.
Research shows that 86% of employees feel that “job training” is vital to them. Even more interesting is that 74% are willing to learn outside work hours if it improves their capabilities and performance. It decouples L&D from the employer’s work environment and the systems they provide.
Another interesting fact is that not just millennials or Gen Z are looking to bump up their skill sets. Workers of all ages are equally eager to learn, ranging from 76% in the 16–24 age group to 77% in the 45–54 age group to 70% in the 55+ age group. In other words, simply appraisals and meeting one’s KRAs aren’t the only reasons why employees want to develop themselves.
There are larger aspirations that tie into personal fulfilment after a Black Swan event, like the pandemic and career advancements.
It has led to a shift in the L&D agenda in 2023.
Who Owns L&D in 2023?
Traditionally, the responsibility for skill development is the responsibility of two entities:
● Educational institutions: The K12 and college system provides learners with essential soft skills, cognitive capabilities, and general domain understanding that form the foundation for future skill development. Knowledge attained at these levels can be helpful when workers want to change careers. Additionally, these institutions may provide vocational training directly related to an employee’s field of work. For example, it includes training in the trades (woodwork, construction, etc.) and technical skills like software design.
● Employer organizations: Part of the ownership of skill development also lies with the organization employing a worker. Typically, a new hire does not reach total productivity until several months or even a year after recruitment, as this period is mainly devoted to onboarding and learning. During this time, the employer organization has little to no ROI from the worker but continues to invest in their development. Skill development at this level can be through on-the-job learning, corporate training academies, and formal/informal coaching and mentorship.
Now, in 2023 (especially after the pandemic), a third owner has emerged — the individuals themselves.
There is a good reason for this shift in agenda. Consider the fact that the reskilling challenge will cost $34 billion in the US alone, according to World Economic Forum (WEF) predictions. It is near impossible for employers to shoulder this entire responsibility, and the WEF recommends that governments and educational institutions share the burden.
The WEF also notes that employees carry a significant responsibility, which has become even more pronounced during and after COVID-19.
Indeed, nearly 3 in 4 employees see development as a personal responsibility, as per a PwC survey. As a result, online microlearning portals (Udemy, Coursera, LinkedIn, etc.) and certification bodies (e.g., Six Sigma) are seeing an uptick in interest.
What is the Organization’s Role?
The question to now ask is this: given this changing L&D agenda, how can organizations prepare? How can they prevent self-motivated and self-developing employees from getting disengaged so that they start looking for greener pastures?
The first step is to proactively seek out employees interested in skill development beyond the needs of their KRAs and appraisals. Then, of course, it has to be complemented by existing potential and, preferably, prior experience. Next, employers can design personalized learning tracks that factor in self-driven and self-paced learning. Finally, employees receive incentives through workplace perks and recognition.
Finally, organizations must develop a holistic learning culture for its own sake. Training has been part of the organization’s compliance mandate for too long, leading to disinterest and disengagement among employees who saw minimal personal benefit from these activities. The shift in the L&D agenda is an opportunity to encourage continuous learning at whatever pace suitable for workers, without the traditional pressures of completing a training exercise.
Remember that over half (58%) of employees are likely to leave their companies if they have no opportunities for professional development. That is why keeping pace with this shifting agenda is so important.
To discuss strategies to accelerate and adapt your L&D plans for 2023, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.