2024 Predictions and Megatrends Reshaping the Future of L&D
The third and final 2023 Annual L&D Benchmark Report explores the modern L&D role and how it can support business transformation in the context of three megatrends: digitalisation, climate change and demographic shifts.
The task of predicting L&D’s future is challenging but not impossible. So far in this year’s three-part report series, we’ve reflected on the journey L&D teams have shared over the last 20 years. We've identified practices that define top-performing organisations and consulted data collected from learning leaders, business leaders and employees to establish key areas that organisations should prioritise today (such as strategic and business alignment).
Armed with this knowledge, this report concentrates on the evolving landscape of workplace learning to identify how L&D teams can prepare to meet the changing needs of the business. Five significant predictions emerge for L&D.
‘Digital intelligence’ will become an essential capability for L&D teams.
Digital intelligence is the ability to understand the potential of technologies for learning, and to identify which are the right fit for the business and its goals. It’s already an important part of digital transformation. Without this skill, L&D teams are at risk of failing to serve the needs of their businesses and their employees. This capability will be added to our list of L&D capabilities to track in the future.
Workforces will evolve to require more on demand solutions, and appetites for remote and flexible working will increase. L&D teams need to consider how technology can be used creatively to support important learning approaches, like coaching and collaboration in environments that are physically disconnected.
Business leaders will be forced to prioritise climate change. When they do, their expectations for L&D could shift...sharply. To remain agile, L&D teams should focus less on the specific skills they’ll need to build, and more on developing practices that make skill building easier.
Coaching will continue to mark maturity.
L&D teams shouldn’t focus so much on the needs of a new workplace learner that they neglect their knowledge sources at the other end of the cycle. Coaching works both ways, and older and younger generations have something to teach each other.
Future job seekers will care more about working for organisations that are committed to acting sustainably. The implications for employment are profound – not taking climate change seriously could be the difference between securing future talent and struggling to find suitable candidates.
L&D teams can stay ahead of the curve by building activities into their current learning strategies that develop more innovative learning cultures and encourage employees to focus more on sustainable business practices.
Diversity in workforces will increase. Organisations need to consider how they can develop cultures where employees work and learn cross-generationally. Members of all generations say that they value working in collaboration with their colleagues. L&D professionals would be wise to remember that.
Considering some of the trends that will impact L&D in the future – including digitalisation, climate change and demographic shifts – many are upon us already. Navigating these challenges involves acknowledging a few key lessons:
EFFECTIVE USE OF TECHNOLOGY REQUIRES DIGITAL INTELLIGENCE
Recent and significant advances in technology make it possible for learning to be more collaborative, and to support L&D’s mission to embed learning in the flow of work. But the temptation to look to technology as a solution to workplace learning challenges must be addressed. Technologies shouldn’t be rolled out because of an obligation to keep up.
Technologies should be rolled out if they support the strategic goals of the business. What organisations urgently need are L&D professionals with the digital intelligence to interact with technology in meaningful ways, and the confidence to decipher which technologies offer the right fit for the business.
FUTURE PROBLEMS NEED ADDRESSING TODAY
Despite not being on the agenda for business leaders in 2023, the impact of climate change on business sustainability is significant. Organisations are already competing for talented individuals who care more about an organisation’s environmental record than they have done in the past. Business transformation, including in terms of sustainability, requires innovation.
L&D has a significant part to play in developing practices that facilitate skill building and developing more innovative learning cultures. This will not only attract and keep hold of talented employees, but help to carve out a place for their businesses in a carbon-neutral world.
A MULTI-GENERATIONAL WORKFORCE IS A LEARNING ASSET
As workforces evolve, there’s always a risk that organisations will lose critical capabilities and knowledge. L&D teams can expect that younger generations entering the workforce will have different needs, skills and attitudes to those already in place.
Instead of trying to iron out these differences, organisations should be looking for ways to leverage the diversity. In a multi-generational workforce people can learn from each other. It is the responsibility of L&D teams to identify ways to bring these learners together and to support them to get the most out of these connections.
To explore the impact of the three megatrends on L&D in organizations – digitalisation, climate change and demographic shifts – download the full report.