The pandemic has changed the way we prioritize learning in our daily lives. For companies, an investment in learning technology means protection and preparedness against future disruption. For professionals, it means investing in one’s skills to stay increasingly competitive in the face of an uncertain job market.

We must take inventory of all the dynamics that will factor into the creation and deployment of innovative learning techniques if we want to harness this trend to drive growth. Where is the demand? What are the biggest obstacles we face? And what are the factors that will drive success?

Companies and their workforces are ready to learn
A recent LinkedIn report shows that 52% of L&D departments have begun implementing a formal reskilling program within their workplace. Additionally, a whopping 94% of employees see the career benefits of learning opportunities. While workplace training was traditionally seen as a chore, the appetite has clearly changed, and there is a mutual interest, for the first time in a long time, in workplace learning between companies and their workforce.

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There is still uncertainty regarding what a successful roadmap looks like
Despite this perceived new wave of excitement around workplace learning, there still isn’t a ton of consensus on what needs to be done next. Only 37% of those surveyed feel confident that they are ready to optimize their investment in the workforce. Part of this is due to the evolution of the way we work and the demand for new soft skills, and as a result, 57% of L&D professionals are now focusing on skills like leadership, communication, and problem-solving. This evolution, while good, comes with many nuances that must be harnessed if we are going to be successful.

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Traditional learning obstacles still loom
As I write this today, an estimated 80% of the information taught by a $370B enterprise training industry is forgotten within 24 hours. This doesn’t account for the systems necessary to ensure these new soft skills are properly put to use in daily work-life when they need to be. Companies are also continuing to figure out how to properly benchmark and track success to prove ROI and continue to win buy-in long after this ‘COVID-19 catalyzed’ enthusiasm for learning is over.

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Learning technology holds the keys to our success
Workplaces need to find solutions that harness a mix of personalization AND scale. It may seem oversimplified, but 80% of polled learners say personalization is important to them. Without personalization, learners will be slow to adopt, and quick to ditch a learning solution. Without scale, companies fail to make an impact that truly permeates an entire organization.

Learning also needs to embrace experiential, social, and situational learning principles to more efficiently integrate into daily life especially when dealing with soft skills. All of these factors are pillars that drive engagement, context, and relevance to learners which ultimately drive desired retention and growth. Technology has provided the opportunity to boost learning by satisfying these needs.

Looking ahead
As of today, the US has recorded more new COVID vaccinations than new cases. This milestone hopefully implies we have turned a pivotal corner in our fight against the pandemic though its impact will continue to affect workplaces long after it has subsided. With that said, I hope our hunger to learn, fostered and intensified by the pandemic, is one impact that sticks.


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