What Have We Learned about Learning? A Look Back Into 2021

February 15, 2022 | What's Hot | 8 min read

2021 was full of significant transformations and worthwhile lessons, but it did not come without unique challenges. For example, we saw the business world turned upside from a massive labor shortage due to The Great Resignation amid a global pandemic, and that was just the tip of the iceberg.

Now that the year has ended, we can take a step back and reflect on how the digital learning market landscape has evolved. Let’s look back into 2021 to learn from the past and see how we can build future-fit digital learning strategies with a vision of what’s to come.

Employees started to reassess their learning priorities in the new way of working.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, employees went through a total mindset shift regarding their time and labor. According to the US Labor Department, 4.5 million Americans chose to leave their jobs in November alone. Employees didn’t abandon their jobs simply to have more free time; they quit to find work they could connect with better. They want to do something personally fulfilling as they develop professionally. As a result, employees are now reassessing their learning priorities with work-life balance and professional development in mind.

We have seen this devotion to learning illustrated in the 12.7M digital badges received by Skillsoft users in 2021 via the Percipio platform, a 48% increase from 2020. While The Great Resignation was drastic, it allowed organizations to recognize the importance of listening to their employees and provided them with the resources they need to succeed in their careers.

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Reskilling and upskilling became more significant than ever.

Several companies noted skill gaps before the pandemic but The Great Resignation seemed to amplify them, with 76% of decision-makers reporting critical skills gaps among their teams.

Many organizations realized something was amiss and started to integrate IT competency training and learning opportunities to allow tech teams to grow and develop within their organizations. As a result, Skillsoft saw IT and tech courses account for 30% of Skillsoft’s most consumed courses in 2021, with an increase in tech and dev learning across the globe, specifically within APAC (39%), India (54%), North America (24%), and the UK (243%). Businesses that took the initiative to focus on IT skilling noticed higher engagement, faster performance, and better work outcomes across their teams.

Organizations acknowledged and began to address gender inequality in the workforce.

Businesses also took great strides to recognize the gender inequality that is so prevalent in the workforce.

Women worldwide have been affected by the financial and social fallout of the pandemic more so than their male counterparts. One in four women has considered downshifting or leaving their career entirely. With these issues becoming more apparent than ever, functional teams, especially those in IT, had to closely examine what women were looking for out of their careers from a skills, professional development, salary, and work-life balance perspective.

We have seen that close attention to gender equality has significantly increased curricula supporting women. While this is a great sign of awareness and the first step towards improvement, we cannot stop here. Businesses must work consistently to ensure that the modern workplace is a welcoming environment that allows for more varied female talent, ultimately leading to diverse and unique solutions and work performance.

The hybrid workforce was widely adopted across the globe and will only continue to rise.

The pandemic has inevitably changed what work will look like forever, and employees continue to adjust. The idea of a "workplace" as a noun has changed dramatically and is no longer limited to a specific physical space. We are going to see more virtual, immersive, and collaborative learning methods that ensure a strong culture of growth across all teams.

We have seen this illustrated through Skillsoft’s collection of courses, “Virtual Work in the New Normal,” a top Aspire Journey course, for the second year in a row. While remote work is an adjustment, it is excellent news for our employees’ professional development. Corporate eLearning and remote training make it accessible to everyone while allowing more opportunities for employees to grow in their careers.

Download our Lean into Learning report or watch our Future of Work on-demand webinar to learn more about what we learned in 2021, what we should keep for 2022, and what we should improve.

What To Look for This Year

One finding that was apparent this year is that our employees love to learn. In fact, Germany, Austria and Switzerland saw a 394% increase overall in learning! So, how do we take what we’ve learned last year and apply it to meet the needs of our ever-growing learners? And what can organizations do today to prepare for tomorrow’s workforce?"

  • Invest in Coaching and Career Development Opportunities for Your Team- As quality talent becomes scarce, personalize the learning experience through tactics like coaching to provide your employees with leadership competencies and career growth opportunities.
  • Build Your Organization’s Culture of Learning- Create an environment where skilling is valued and necessary by delivering and encouraging opportunities for technical skills development.
  • Prioritize And Practice DEI efforts- Invest in strong Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion programs to show your employees that they belong and are valued.
  • Make Training and Learning Remote- Build meaningful programs using blended learning methods to appeal to remote and hybrid workforces.
  • Training and Develop Your Leaders - Equip leaders with the resources they need to lead through unpredictability.

In unprecedented times, organizations and leaders must do all they can to look out for their people to integrate into the modern workforce and strive towards new heights.

Download and Review our Lean Into Learning report to learn more about what we learned in 2021, what we should keep for 2022, and what we should improve.