Four Digital Learning Predictions for 2022

December 10, 2021 | What's Hot | 6 min read

While we’re not exactly back to business as usual, the new normal has become slightly more normal. As we emerge from the uncertainty of last year, we indisputably find that the future of work has arrived. We see organizations easing out of crisis mode and getting back to long-term planning, and many are keen to keep a hybrid, if not fully remote, workforce in play. So, my colleagues and I had a conversation about what we were observing, and to answer the question we think is most pressing for the year to come: How do we build a workforce with skills for tomorrow while retaining the most qualified talent at the same time?

Here are our collective predictions for learning and development in 2022, and what your organization will need to do as you prepare the workforce of today with the skills for tomorrow

Prediction 1

Your best talent will leave if you’re not investing in their skills.

Kristi Hummel, Chief People Officer

Sustaining your workforce is not enough. Retain top talent by reskilling and upskilling them to overcome skills gaps.

As the pandemic wore on, workers increasingly recognized that their time is valuable. The Great Resignation has taught us that employees want to do work that matters and is harmonious with their lives outside of the office. Learners are more vocal than ever about their desire for professional development within their company, and employers are picking up on this. According to The Year 2021 For Skilling: A Pulse Survey, 88% of businesses rated building skills and capabilities as the topmost priority.

Organizations that provide a way to transform the skills of their talent in a meaningful way, with a transparent career trajectory, see the most success in their learning and development mission. Because success isn’t about learning a single tool or process—a new and better tool will always come along. Success is about retaining talented individuals who are excited to learn with an infrastructure that enables them to do so. We’ve also seen a demand for greater internal mobility, not just from individuals; cohorts want to learn and skill up together. There are very measurable forms of learning that ultimately allow employees to take their new skills to different parts of the organization.

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Prediction 2

Collaborative, Immersive learning is the key to success as remote work and virtual collaboration become the norm.

Apratim Purakayastha, Chief Technology Officer

Another trend we’ve seen holding strong is that employees continue to seek enriching, community-driven experiences online, which directly applies to learning. In fact, the Brandon Hall Group found that because of their experience during the pandemic, 35% of organizations have applied approaches that make virtually-delivered instructor-led training more collaborative and social, similar to what one would expect through in-person learning.

Leaders must be open to creating meaningful and engaging programs using blended learning methods – which infuse self-paced, team-oriented, and instructor-led training, as well as live courses, hands-on labs, bootcamps, and more, to appeal to multiple training preferences and styles.

How do we provide systems and content so that socialization and learning all meld together into one system? Many organizations are looking at the success of gamer culture for inspiration. Gamers worldwide have wide social networks of people they’ve never met face to face but with who they collaborate seamlessly to achieve in-game tasks. Leaders are experimenting with novel and collaborative learning methods, such as using VR headsets for onboarding and live virtual strategy sessions. So, as we go into this new year, make time to review your learning and development mission and ensure its social and contains a variety of different learning types.

Prediction 3

Personalized coaching will help the next generation of leaders stay ahead of the chaos.

Mark Onisk, Chief Content Officer

In a world that has become rapidly virtualized and heavily reliant on report work, effective leadership has never been more important. Coaching accelerates leaders’ professional development by providing a personal mentor who can assess strengths and facilitate new skills in a thoughtful way that encourages growth. Therefore, building leadership competencies must be an integral part of learning across the organization, as quality talent becomes increasingly scare.

The market for personalized coaching continues to grow year over year as organizations strive to foster critical leadership competencies across the company. The International Coaching Federation estimates that the number of leadership coach practitioners increased by 33% globally between 2015 and 2019, with the number of leaders using coaches rising by 46%.

We can also expect an increased investment in AI to enhance digital coaching. AI is a maturing technology and is being trained using the rich corpus of information from every industry to augment human intelligence, find patterns and make predictions. If we apply that to learning, we’re able to take the institutional and practical knowledge that still primarily resides in people’s heads and share it systematically. If we merge the predictive nature of AI with blended learning, we have something that looks like an omnipresent digital coach.

Prediction 4

Digital transformation is critical; all departments will need to build technical skills and competencies.

Michelle BB, Chief Marketing Officer

If there’s one thing to take away from Skillsoft’s Global Knowledge 2021 IT Skills & Salary Report, it’s that the IT skills gap is real, and it’s growing. Our report found that 76% of IT decision-makers experience critical skills gaps on their teams—a 145% increase from last year. As a result, employees must carve out time on their own to learn new skills and keep up with the pace of their organization. It is up to the business to provide and encourage opportunities that retain talent and scale skills across your organization wherever there’s a void.

The skills gap just gets wider for women in tech who seek professional development and career advancement. Skillsoft’s recently published 2021 Women in Tech Report found that 32% of women surveyed cited a lack of training as the main challenge they face in a tech-related career. Consequently, it is more important than ever for businesses to foster IT skills and competencies across their organization.

It’s not all bad news; the IT Skills and Salary report also found that nine out of ten managers plan on addressing the skills gap, and over 50% believe the answer is training their existing talent. As a result of additional training in the IT world, 80% of professionals saw higher engagement, faster performance, and better work outcomes. Skilling up IT training across your enterprise will carry both professional and personal value to your employees and should be a major consideration for businesses going into the new year.

In the end, it’s all about embracing the flow of work and life within the new normal.

The way in which we learn new work skills will evolve to become more natural, intuitive, and personal. Learning systems are advanced enough to integrate with our day-to-day life and ensure your talent has the best skills in the market. But if your organization isn’t leading with a growth mindset, your leaders aren’t taking full advantage of these advances in learning and development. The next level of productivity and efficiency will occur through upskilling your teams, creating a culture of hyper-accessible social learning and coaching leadership, that learners can practice whenever they want, wherever they may be.

To learn more about how learning and training will transform the workforce in 2022, read the 2021 IT Skills and Salary Report and the 2021 Women in Tech Report. Also, stay Tuned for the Lean into Learning Report, coming to you in January 2022.