Digital learning

L&D 2023 Trends

Written by
Amy Lynn Fletcher, PhD
As the Great Resignation evolves into the Great Reshuffle, the global workforce continues to be buffeted by economic uncertainty, demographic change, technological disruption, and political tension. Though inflation may ease next year, the International Monetary Fund expects global growth to decline to its weakest level since 2001 (with the exceptions of the 2008 financial crisis period and the height of the COVID-19 pandemic).

The global skills shortage and the imperative of meaningful diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives exacerbates the pressure on L&D, as does the need to establish a clear link between corporate training and return on investment (ROI). Transformative L&D is essential for companies that want to not only survive but thrive in this volatile external environment.

Agile companies that put L&D at the center of operations will be best placed to navigate the future of work and digital disruption. While the demand for L&D will only increase in 2023, we believe this is an exciting era for learning and development professionals.

Here are ten key trends and issues to monitor in the coming year:

1. Return on Investment

Quantitative metrics are necessary to evaluate the ROI of training programs. However, mapping the impact of learning and development on business outcomes has often proven difficult and frustrating.

Existing tools such as the Phillips ROI Methodology can provide key insights. However, we predict that L&D metrics will evolve in 2023 to include fine-grained assessments of a range of outcomes. These include customer satisfaction, customer retention and expansion, safety, health and environmental outcomes, employee retention, and progress on DEI.

Rapid advances in machine learning and data analysis will also continue to transform the evaluation of learning initiatives.

2. Learning Equity

In 2023, L&D will drive workplace equity. Innovative organizations will extend opportunities for self-directed learning, including upskilling and reskilling, throughout the organization.

A culture of continuous learning will ensure that employees, from the frontline to the CEO, embrace opportunities to advance in their careers and acquire the skills needed in a rapidly changing global economy. In the most innovative companies, learning and development will expand beyond the individual employee to include family members and even the broader community.

3. L&D as a Center of Excellence

Over the last three decades, companies have experimented with centralized L&D and decentralized L&D. While both models have advantages and disadvantages, we believe the future of work and corporate training lies in a blended model that leverages the best aspects of each approach.

Blended or hybrid models for work, education, and training are emerging in the wake of the pandemic and other structural stressors. For L&D, we envision a blended model in which learning and development is a core business unit that works in partnership with functional leaders.

4. Organizational Partnerships

Harnessing the power of learning and development today requires cross-functionality and the participation of all business units. L&D remains the driver, leveraging its expertise in best practice and anticipatory knowledge of needed skills and talents.

However, L&D will need to reach out across the organization and ensure that functional leaders are trained on how to use L&D content and tools effectively as part of their daily coaching and mentoring responsibilities.

5. Continuous Learning

Education in the twentieth century was fit for an economy based on mass manufacturing, hierarchical organizations, and stable skill sets.

In this century, corporate training must evolve to meet the demands of speed, digital transformation, and employee expectations. In 2023, L&D will continue to advance in the use of learning platforms and curated content that enable adaptive learning and personalized learning on the job.

6. Modern Learning Experiences

Old-fashioned learning and development assumed that employees learn in roughly the same ways. Emphasis was placed on one-off workshops and seminars, employee manuals, and rote memorization.

Today, learning equity requires putting the employee in the driver’s seat. Adaptive learning, self-directed learning, just-in-time learning, and personalized learning are various interrelated modalities that accommodate different learning styles and needs.

As Andrew Shean, chief learning officer at Penn Foster, emphasizes, “A ubiquitous learning experience is rooted in seamless access to educational experiences, both in and out of school or work, that never has to stop. You could call it a subset or byproduct of hybrid learning — the broader term that refers to learning experiences that take place partly online and partly in-person.”

7. Learning Pathways Mapped to Career Mobility

As members of Gen-Z, born between 1995 and 2010, enter the workforce, the demands for L&D are likely to escalate. This digital generation has high expectations for work-life balance and career progression. Older Gen-X and Boomer employees will also need targeted learning opportunities to keep up with changing skill demands and job categories.

Lattice CEO Jack Altman notes that "[m]anagers need to prioritize visibility for employees on their career progression, as well as provide the mentorship and tools to help them move forward, to ensure they're retaining their best talent."

Data backs up this assertion. Recently, Leftronic compiled insights on the contemporary workforce. Fully 94% of employees will agree to stay longer at companies that prioritize learning and development. L&D will be instrumental in mapping learning pathways to career mobility.

8. Digital Skills for Every Employee

The future of work is digital. We are rapidly becoming an algorithmic society in which machines will collect and process data at astonishing speed. Gleaning actionable insights and knowledge from data will, however, remain the work of human beings for the foreseeable future.

In this era of digital transformation, not every worker will need to be a computer scientist. However, media literacy, critical thinking, problem-solving, data interpretation, and creativity will be essential across the organization.

9. Integrating Learning into the Daily Flow of Work

Josh Bersin pioneered learning in the flow of work. Learning platforms such as Edflex bring theory into practice by providing employees with just-in-time and easily accessible content and modules. Employees no longer need to go off-site to learn or digest huge amounts of information at once. Instead, learning can be done within the workday in a way that is engaging and flexible. 

This requires that learning content is easy to access, easy to consume and able to applied immediately to the task at hand. Embedding digital learning content and paths into the tools that employees use everyday such as Chrome, Teams and Slack is essential.

10. Tracking What’s Meaningful

The coming year will also see advances in how L&D can track and evaluate learning. Rather than relying solely on individual self-reports or standard surveys, real-time data analysis will let corporate trainers drill down into how different tools and approaches intersect with learning styles and outcomes. Learning equity and learning effectiveness will be more transparent, as will the impact of L&D on the bottom line.

In addition, organizations will look at L&D as part of their ESG initiatives and how these investments not only impact  business performance but DEI efforts and the impact on the community.

Learning and development has been put to the test over the last four years. It has emerged stronger, smarter, more innovative, and more equitable than ever, with new ways to rethink the L&D strategy in companies.

We believe 2023 will be an exciting year for L&D professionals and SaaS solutions and wish all of our customers, prospects and blog readers a happy holiday season and a wonderful new year!

Edflex, a world-leading SaaS learning platform, welcomes the opportunity to partner with you to embrace the future of work.

Edflex provides customers with qualified curated learning content that is continuously evaluated, updated, and refreshed. Our customers benefit from 7 Learning Domains, 30 Subdomains, 7 Languages, 5 Formats, and localized learning content in 7 different languages. Our personalized learning options help your learners and leaders prioritize learning at the time of need. To learn more about Edflex, contact us today.

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