Can you predict the future? That’s what i4cp and ATD, the Association for Talent Development, asked business and learning leaders for the collaborative study, Learners of the Future: Taking Action Today to Prevent Tomorrow’s Talent Crisis. The 400-plus leaders surveyed for the research provided thoughtful predictions about organizational learning in 2020. Here are a few:
- Companies will blend live and electronic learning. Many organizations already blend learning, but the combo approach will characterize the majority of future efforts, said 70% of survey respondents. Learners can expect to see more instructional content come to them in small chunks they can consume quickly, when needed, and via multiple devices.
- Partnerships with colleges and universities will increase, enabling employers to exert more influence over higher-education curriculums. To supplement those alliances, companies will offer more internships as a means of ensuring that their future hires arrive in the workplace with the skills needed to become productive employees rapidly.
- Workers will take charge of their own learning and development. Leaders expect workplace technologies to help drive the self-direction trend, and they predict that talent development professionals will shift their focus toward customizing learning plans to meet individuals’ unique needs, and creating learning assets especially for those plans.
i4cp and ATD found those custom plans and assets are strongly correlated to market performance and learning effectiveness, signaling that their emphasis in coming years will position L&D to make more positive impacts on organizations’ business and learning results.
Many positive predictions came out of the Learners of the Future study, but so did a troubling finding: Only 38% of respondents said their L&D functions would be ready to effectively meet the needs of learners in 2020. That means nearly two-thirds of organizations could fail future learners unless things change. And jeopardizing a company’s supply of skilled talent can spell disaster for business results and even organizational survival.
Future learning readiness demands a big-picture perspective on talent
Frank Persico, vice president of learning at IBM, was among the high-profile learning leaders interviewed for the study, and he shared ideas he and his team are using to power future learning at the multinational technology and consulting firm. For Persico, preparing L&D for the future requires a strategic perspective.
“Any business issue invariably comes down to whether or not you have the people who can deliver on the visionary promise of an organization,” says Persico. “Whatever that future vision is, do you have the talent to meet your ambition? That’s the essential talent management question.”
For L&D success, he advises: “Offer a comprehensive solution—from affecting which hires you bring in to the ways you develop those people to defining how you expect them to behave when they reach the most senior levels of the organization. It’s that broad-ranging role of influencing talent that makes learning indispensable. Position yourself as a talent leader more than a learning leader—and think of learning as just one vehicle for providing talent that can get the job done.”
For more from Persico and other learning leaders on strategies to ramp up L&D’s future readiness, purchase the full Learners of the Future report at the ATD Store or download a white paper that summarizes the key findings (i4cp membership required).