With the new normal already set in, the post-COVID business world sees organizations facing challenges that we've known about for a while, such as managing a remote workforce. Others, such as the war for talent, are more recent and have caused a significant upheaval.
Learning and development (L&D) has always had to adapt, but perhaps there was never quite such a challenging time for them. They are now tasked with implementing remote programs and making accommodations for the hybrid workplace – from onboarding to on-the-job training and coaching. With all these going on, it's safe to say that the training and development landscape of 2023 will be both digital and innovative.
Trends in Learning and Development that will define training in 2023
L&D trends are more than buzzwords. They should be a direct response to the changes in the workplace, innovations in learning technology and employee demands. Trends are just a guide for learning professionals and companies — it's up to them to choose what works best for their training needs in the long term. Here are the top L&D trends for 2023.
1. Upskilling and reskilling
Skills development will be the top priority for most organizations in 2023. Companies must address the growing skills gap created by technology adoption and disruption. Upskilling, reskilling and even right-skilling training programs should be a priority for most companies as employees will need to learn new skills, take on new roles and update their competencies to be more competitive on the job market.
"We have the means to reskill and upskill individuals in unprecedented numbers, to deploy precision safety nets which protect displaced workers from destitution, and to create bespoke maps which orient displaced workers towards the jobs of tomorrow where they will be able to thrive. However, the efforts to support those affected by the current crisis lag behind the speed of disruption." - WEF Future of Jobs report 2020
Microlearning, or bite-sized learning, is consolidating its position as a favorite and effective teaching method for busy corporate employees having to learn at the moment of need. While the concept of microlearning has been the same from the start, how it is executed is constantly transforming.
According to eLearning Partners, there were three top microlearning trends in 2022. TikTok and its increasing popularity has had quite an effect on learning. Packing information into short and to-the-point videos is an excellent way to ensure learner engagement.
The Google phenomenon, namely the fact that people can now search for any word or topic and relevant results immediately pop up, is also highly relevant for microlearning. The point is to label and title the learning content appropriately so learners can easily find what they need. Lastly, there is interactive gratification, meaning that each microlearning unit should be followed by an interactive part (such as a quiz), ending in a reward.
3. Data-driven learning
Data-driven learning is a natural development considering that learning management systems (LMSs) have become increasingly proficient at collecting, analyzing, and suggesting actions based on data.
Learning platforms can now diagnose learning needs, alert instructors when learners need assistance, and make content recommendations based on learning goals and competency levels. This level of fine-tuning means that instructors can create personalized learning paths for each employee, ensuring maximum engagement and optimal information retention.
The future of e-learning belongs to intelligent learning platforms capable of interpreting data and making it actionable. Data-driven learning is also learner-centric, focusing on delivering the most suitable interventions through real-time feedback and a wide variety of learning content (designed in-house and by third-party e-learning providers).
4. Repurposing and outsourcing content
The time of lengthy training designed by in-house instructional specialists has passed. With the workforce becoming increasingly globalized and the need for just-in-time learning, companies must ensure they have quality content available at all times.
For example, current training material can be repurposed into smaller chunks and packaged in various formats. Furthermore, a lot of the new content will fall to the task of third-party creators as increasingly more organizations partner with learning providers such as LinkedIn Learning and Go1.
5. User-generated content
The jury is out: employees enjoy learning from their colleagues and show more trust in the learning content when their colleagues create it. User-generated content (UGC) is any learning content learners make. It's growing in popularity as employees prefer more interactive learning experiences and taking ownership of their education and training.
UGC has many perks, including employee training buy-in, higher participation rates, and more effective peer-to-peer training. There are many ways in which learners can contribute directly, including Q&A forums, short videos, case studies, and reviews. The best part? It's not that hard to get people to contribute as long as you can demonstrate the impact of UGC and incentivize them (through different perks and rewards) accordingly.
6. Extended reality (XR) in training
Next year will see more extended reality (XR) in training. This includes all the immersive learning technologies, such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR). All these make the employee experience more interactive and engaging.
Apart from the engagement perks, XR is critical when training for learning competencies that take a lot of resources when taught in a non-digital learning environment. This is especially true for potentially dangerous jobs such as operating heavy equipment, aviation, logging, and natural resource mining. The applications of XR are also highly useful for technical training, onboarding programs, and even customer service, as it's easy to run multiple scenarios with various types of clients and issues.
7. Learning on demand
Asynchronous, on-demand learning is a must for any organization that wants to thrive in the hybrid environment. So far, this has been quite an issue. According to a survey of 800 employees in large organizations, 56% of them say they have been unable to locate digital documents while working remotely this year.
We've already touched on the importance of knowledge sharing in organizations and the necessity of a good strategy. L&D needs to take this one step further by ensuring employees can access learning materials whenever required, regardless of their device or time zone.
Learning and development in 2023
The word challenging has been associated with L&D for some time now, and that is not about to change. 2023 comes with the prospect of a recession and profound transformation in most businesses. The learning function will have to continue to adapt and support organizations in whatever new situations they may find themselves in. There will be a growing need for upskilling and reskilling and a demand for diverse, engaging, and relevant learning content available at the time of need.