7 Emerging Learning and Development Skills in 2020 and Beyond

learning and development skills

Learning and development skills are just like any others across the organization: rapidly changing and evolving all the time.

In LinkedIn’s 2020 Workplace Learning Report, 51% of L&D pros said they planned to launch upskilling programs in 2020 while 43% said they planned to launch reskilling programs. This is in line with several other studies that report a growing need for reskilling across all industries and functions in the coming years.

It’s predicted that by 2026, at least 54% of all employees will need significant upskilling or reskilling as roles change or become obsolete due to the onset of new technologies and increasingly dynamic market forces.

So, while it’s clear that training teams are thinking in the right direction, are they applying the same approach to their own upskilling and reskilling needs? 

In order to continue aligning themselves closely with the business and delivering learning outcomes that drive performance, L&D need to address their own skill gaps, too.

So, what are the learning and development skills that will be most in demand and most valuable for training teams in 2020 and beyond? 

1. Communication Skills

Communication skills are consistently underrated and undervalued, but that is changing. As training becomes more and more critical to boosting business performance, L&D leaders are recognizing the need for better collaboration with stakeholders across the organization.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, 42% of companies say they have stepped up their efforts to upskill or reskill their employees. This is no surprise, as work-from-home policies continue in effect and are likely here to stay in some form or another. Such a major shift to the way we work has made training on technology (such as online collaboration or communication tools) a necessity. 

Going forward, learning teams will need to develop expert communication skills to form close working relationships with line managers and other stakeholders. By doing so, L&D will secure their position as strategic drivers. And in a remote work environment, the communication skills needed to do that will be essential. 

2. Adaptability/Readiness for Change

If 2020 has shown us anything, it’s that change is not just inevitable, but it can also be nearly impossible to predict. Since learning and development are on the frontline of enabling organizational change, it’s vital that training teams bake adaptability into their own strategy and processes.

With this in mind, it’s no surprise that Agile skills are quickly making their way into job listings for L&D team members. An adaptable, agile team is one that embraces change and learns to leverage it for competitive advantage. 

3. Learning Technology

The learning technology market continues to advance at a rapid pace. L&D teams have more choice than ever when it comes to selecting their ideal learning tech stack. But with that choice can come a lot of confusion and misunderstanding about how to select (and use) the right tools and solution for your team.

Digital transformation has been accelerated in 2020, forcing training teams to pick up the pace in moving to online training and digitizing the way they work. Learning pros will need to quickly adopt, learn, and utilize learning technology in order to leverage the best possible tech stack for productivity and improved learning experiences and outcomes. 

4. Data Analytics

Learning pros have been paying attention to the way other functions have found ways of leveraging big data to surface business-critical insights. But without qualifications and skills in data analytics, L&D are struggling to move beyond surface-level insights. 

To dig deep into your learner preferences, skill gaps, and organizational impact, data analytics will move to the forefront of learning and development skills in 2020 and beyond.

5. Project Management

In a Data Crunch report, project management was listed as a sought after learning and development skills, and it’s not hard to see why. Learning and development teams are working increasingly closely with business functions to deliver training.

So, with training projects encompassing a wide variety of stakeholders, project management skills are essential to their success. Don’t miss this webinar to find out if your L&D project management skills need a touch up.

6. Virtual Training

Not all training teams are enamoured with the idea of eLearning. Many have either preferred to stick to face-to-face instructor-led training or have not had the budget and resources needed to transition online. Plus, for many training situations, it can be more effective.

But now that remote working has become the norm, L&D have been forced to consider alternatives, many opting for virtual classroom settings rather than eLearning.

However, transitioning from in-person classroom training to a virtual environment is not necessarily straightforward. It takes knowledge and skills in technology, different learner engagement tactics, and lots of other considerations.  

7. Digital Asset Creation

For the past couple of years, greater attention has been given to enabling learning in the flow of work. But enabling learners to access content in the moment of need means producing learning quickly and at scale. 

That means L&D pros who are extremely comfortable with content creation and producing digital assets to enable the design, delivery, and curation of digital content.  

Learning and development skills start with in-depth knowledge of instructional design. Try this instructional design quiz to test your knowledge!

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7 Emerging Learning and Development Skills in 2020 and Beyond