LinkedIn Provides New Insights into Key Learning and Development Trends

LinkedIn has this week published its fifth Workplace Learning Report, which incorporates responses from over 1,200 learning and development professionals, and nearly 900 learners, to provide some fresh perspective and insight into key learning and upskilling trends, and how businesses should be planning for these developments.

You can download the full, 65-page report here (with email sign-up), but in this post, we’ll take a look at some of the key notes.

First off, in what will come as no surprise given the chaos that was 2020, LinkedIn found that ‘Resilience and Adaptability’ is now a key learning and development focus, with ‘Technology Skills/Digital Fluency’ coming in second.

We all needed to adapt, in some way, due to the impacts of the pandemic, and you can see, based on these other topics, the influence that the WFH shift has had on development trends.

The increased focus on digital connectivity has also made digital literacy a key focus.

Really, digital literacy should now be on the general education curriculum, as it already is in some nations. Considering the broader impacts of misinformation, and how digital platforms can be used to facilitate such, and our increasing reliance on connected tools in all aspects, it’s arguably now a critical life skill that all youngsters are learning themselves anyway.

The more information we can provide on this, the better.

LinkedIn also found that ‘Upskilling and reskilling’ is now the key focus area for learning and development programs, which also comes as little surprise.

LinkedIn Learning and Development report

Many people have had to find new roles, or change their focus, due to the impacts of COVID-19, so a lot of workers have had to, and will have to, reskill. 

LinkedIn also found that a growing number of employees who are shifting roles, are doing so from entirely different career paths, as opposed to related roles.

“An analysis by LinkedIn’s data science team conducted for the World Economic Forum showed that many employees who have moved into “emerging roles” over the past five years came from entirely different occupations. For example, half of the employees who moved into data science and artificial intelligence (AI) roles were coming from unrelated industries. That number jumps when we look at engineering roles (67%), content roles (72%), and sales (75%). What’s even more interesting is that the people who transitioned into data and AI had the largest variation in skill profiles, with half of them possessing skills with low similarity.” 

New sectors are opening up new opportunities, and as AR/VR and other technologies continue to evolve, this will continue to expand, re-directing people from a range of professional backgrounds into these new pathways – and it’s worth noting that experience is not so much a factor in some respects.

In many ways, it’s impossible to have experience in these emerging roles, which provides more opportunity for people to change their career path, if they choose.

As you can see from the chart, ‘Virtual Onboarding’ is also a key focus, again reflecting the rising WFH shift, which will likely be a lasting impact of the pandemic.

This is further underlined in the shift away from instructor-lead training (ILT) in favor of self-paced online courses.

LinkedIn Learning and Development report

Organizations are increasingly looking to cater for variable working arrangements, in order to provide more flexibility, which will not only enable them to attract more candidates through broader options, but will also ensure that they can get the best employees, regardless of location. And that may well become a key differentiator moving forward.

LinkedIn also found that younger employees are increasingly looking for career development opportunities

“Gen Z learners will spend time learning if it can help them perform well in their current jobs (69%), build the skills needed to work in a different function (47%), or find new roles internally (hello, internal mobility) — more than any other generation in the workforce. And, over three-quarters (76%) of Gen Z employees believe that learning is the key to a successful career.”

That could be a key note to help in motivating younger staff, while group learning has also seen a rise in popularity.

“For example, there’s been a 1,100% increase in people joining Learning Groups, with joins from younger generations much higher than their older colleagues. There was also a 225% increase in courses shared with a learner’s professional network, and a 121% increase in activity.”

There’s probably some level of external validation in this, in the capacity to show off your latest skills to peers and colleagues. But it also underlines a key value point – if you want to maximize employee learning, it should be available online, and it should be something they can do with other colleagues or students, helping to facilitate community, which many have sorely missed due to the lockdowns. 

There are some interesting insights here, and if you’re working in HR, it’s worth downloading the full report and taking a look at LinkedIn’s findings. It may help you develop a better approach to your own learning and development processes, and better position your company to capitalize on these key shifts.

You can download the full LinkedIn Learning 2021 Workplace Learning Report here.

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