August 05 2021

3 things you should know about skill building for the future of work

According to the World Economic Forum report published in October 2020, that we've discussed here, the rapid acceleration of automation and economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic will impact the division of labour between humans and machines, causing 85 million jobs to be displaced and 97 million new ones to be created by 2025. This is an enormous opportunity for people in the learning and development (L&D) and HR disciplines.

As we all have noticed the world of work has gone through some major changes in recently. As we move into a new age of hybrid workplaces, which skills will be most in demand and how can companies support them? These are big questions, that online education platform LinkedIn Learning  has attempted to answer in its fifth annual Workplace Learning Report where it surveyed more than 1,200 learning and development (L&D) professionals and nearly 900 learners. It also looked at behavioural insights on how people use its platform and conducted interviews with leaders.

1. Upskilling and reskilling are the top areas of focus

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report found last year that, thanks to the pandemic, what we used to think of as the future of work has already arrived. By the year 2025, automation and the new division of labour between humans and machines will cause disruption to 85 million jobs all over the world.

On the plus side, as the economy and job markets evolve, 97 million new job roles will be created, with people involved in tasks such as managing, decision-making, communicating and interacting having an advantage. It should also be noted that 50% of those who look like they will stay in their current roles in the next five years will also need reskilling.

The report says most employers see the value of reskilling their workforce, and this is something that we also see in the conclusions of the Workplace Learning Report. In 2021, upskilling and reskilling are a top priority for 59% of L&D professionals, and the top three are leadership, management and virtual onboarding.

2. Executives are increasingly recognising the importance of L&D

When top leadership is supportive of learning, the report says, learners are more engaged and programmes have more positive impact. We should remember that in the 2020 edition of the Workplace Learning Report, only 27% of L&D professionals said that their CEOs were active champions of learning.

Just as it has changed things in so many areas of life, the pandemic has had a big impact on this. L&D leaders moved quickly to help employees manage the shift to remote work while staying productive. And executives were paying attention to this and the change in numbers tells the story – in March 2021, 62% of L&D professionals agreed their CEOs were active champions of learning.

Meanwhile, 64% of those surveyed agreed that L&D had moved from a “nice to have” to a “need to have” in 2021.

3. L&D pros expect budgets to grow and continue to shift to online learning

Although executive attention is an important factor to fuel winning learning programmes, they can’t run without sufficient budgets.

At the beginning of 2020, 37% of L&D pros were expecting their budgets to grow, but that number fell to 22% when they were asked again in the middle of the year. At that time, there were so many uncertainties related to the pandemic — especially economic ones — that resulted in many organisations freezing their budgets and examining their spending. Now that we have more or less settled into the new world of work, L&D budget growth is almost back to pre-pandemic levels: 33% of L&D pros report that they expect their budgets to increase, and only 19% expect a decrease.

Hybrid workplaces — organisations that function with some employees working remotely and some in a traditional office environment — are going to be the way we work for the foreseeable future. Over the last six months, many organisations announced that they will continue to operate in a completely remote environment, while some, including LinkedIn, will continue to offer employees the flexibility to work at home or in the office.

This means that the pivot L&D made from classroom based training to blended online learning, learning experiences with a mix of virtual instructor-led training (VILT) and online learning, will remain the status quo. In early 2020, 38% of L&D pros expected to spend less on classroom based learning and 57% expected to spend more on online learning. Today, those numbers are significantly higher: 73% of L&D pros expect to spend less on classroom based learning and 79% expect to spend more on online learning.

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