L&D Trends Shaping Employee Training

By Mahesh Balani


Have you wondered what happened to jobs that existed a decade or two ago but aren’t around today? Telephone operators, lift operators, camera film developers, and video rental store managers. And has it occurred to you that there are jobs that exist today that did not exist a decade or two ago? Uber drivers, food delivery, social media influencers, vloggers, robotic process automation, drone operators etc. And most definitely, there will be jobs 10 years from now that don’t exist today. If we juxtapose this scenario with a traditional college degree, in the time it takes someone to complete their professional bachelor’s degree followed by a master’s degree, the job market changes dramatically. Thus, what one learns in college becomes irrelevant quickly. This results in a widening education-employment skills gap that needs to be bridged with robust L&D and upskilling programmes.


In the case of someone already in a job, there is a constant flow of new technology and tools that continuously replace tasks and complete roles being performed by humans. Roles are outsourced to specialist companies, usually much smaller in deploying human capital and relying heavily on technology. Otherwise, they are being done by gig workers and consultants. On the one hand, this has created a lot of stress among professionals, especially in the middle of their working life, not knowing how to compete with younger, more technically competent talent on one side and experienced leaders with decades of management experience on the other. Employers are also grappling with the challenge of rapidly skilling their workforce to meet fast-changing customer demands.


Understanding the ‘Why’, ‘What’ and ‘How’ of L&D


While firms play an important role in offering the right L&D opportunities and a structured upskilling program for employees, the outcome will not bear fruit if the individual is not investing in learning and development or upgrading one’s skills and knowledge. If one were to put this in the context of the Golden Circle, a concept brought to us by Simon Sinek more than a decade ago, this answers the “Why” at the core. Why do we need to learn? Why do we need to invest in ourselves? What is our purpose? L&D leaders need to understand the why or the purpose behind why employees learn and then need to connect the common or shared purpose of employees to that of the organization. That, in turn, helps identify the How and the What to complete the Golden Circle.


Let’s look at the “How”. Technology has changed the landscape of L&D. One no longer needs to spend hours in a classroom-style setting to learn from 1 expert. Learning has moved online. One can access content from thousands of expert content creators. YouTube can now be considered a universal school. And the best part is that the content is absolutely free. Of course, suppose one is looking for more structured learning paths and curated learning experiences from famous universities, in that case, many platforms offer learning content online in an easy-to-consume format  at their own pace and the ability to store, retrieve and revise the information .


Lastly, the “What”. Clearly, given rapid technological advances, technical skills will continue to be imperative in what to learn. Depending on one’s current skill level and future interests (answer to the “Why”), one needs to identify those technical skills that will help stay relevant. However, technical skills alone are not enough. One needs to invest in acquiring and developing non-technical competencies to be more effective in their current job and to continue being effective in the future. These soft skills have become even more relevant as jobs are rapidly transforming, and there is a need to provide guidance and leadership to others in the organization.


Key trends in focus


In a dynamic and quick-changing skills landscape, companies and individuals must stay abreast of the latest trends. This will ensure a productive and happy workforce and enable quick business expansion. Some key trends that are shaping employee training include:


  • Personalized learning; Today, there is a need for L&D programmes to cater to the specific needs of both the individuals and the role. As job roles become more specialized and dynamic simultaneously, assessing the individual’s strengths, weaknesses, skill gaps and personality traits is necessary to design personalized learning pathways.
  • Microlearning: With deteriorating attention spans, microlearning has emerged as an attractive option, especially for the GenZ workforce. This involves breaking down topics into short units for easy consumption. These units can also include interactive elements like short quizzes, learning games, virtual flashcards, scenario-based simulations, etc.
  • Growing focus on AI: The rise of generative AI tools like ChatGPT has greatly democratized AI use. AI is set to transform all industries as they exist, and reskilling will be a key part of this process. L&D programmes must incorporate tools and techniques that utilize AI to improve job outcomes
  • Use of extended reality: AR and VR technologies are revolutionizing learning and development by enabling the creation of accurate simulations of real-life scenarios. This makes providing hands-on training on practical skills easy while making the training process more engaging and interactive for employees.


In a rapidly changing world, continuous learning is an imperative, not a choice. And that will determine who stays relevant in the future. By constantly updating their L&D trends in line with the demands of the job markets, firms can ensure that their employees are equipped for success.


(The author is Mahesh Balani, Leader – HR Process Transformation at Omega Healthcare Management Services, and the views expressed in this article are his own)