The threat of the talent gap continues to strain businesses as they look for skilled employees. In this crisis, internal learning programs will be essential as current skills are becoming automated and outdated. In LinkedIn’s 2018 Workplace Learning Report, 90% of executives surveyed believed learning and development, or L&D, to be a necessary benefit to their businesses, spiking a trend in spending on the endeavor. In fact, 27% of organizations planned to spend more on learning and development in 2017 to improve the quality of existing and future managers and leaders. How can organizations stay ahead of the curve in L&D?
Soft Skills Training Is A Must
With the age of automation, workers are encouraged to develop skills that a computer or robot cannot replicate: communication, team building and leadership, problem solving and organization. While technical skills are still important, they will likely be less relevant in the future as new methods and technologies crop up. Soft skills training is especially critical for new leadership—something that currently isn’t happening and can end up undermining the success of the business.
Leadership, In Particular, Is Important
Not only must leaders improve themselves to close the talent gap, but they must also use their status to encourage others to develop their skills. By communicating about L&D opportunities and the value of learning, leadership can make a difference in the success of their employees. It turns out that leaders are vital to encouraging their employees to improve themselves and their skills: 56% of employees agreed that they would spend more time learning if a manager suggested a course or skill for development, according to LinkedIn’s report.
Focus On Identifying Trends For Future Skill Gaps
Directly behind developing soft skills in executive priority is identifying potential future trend gaps now. Ideally, talent managers should be working to predict jobs that will pop up in the future so that employees can begin training for them and avoid the talent war straining businesses presently.
Training Is Going Digital
To better coordinate the diversifying workforce and get faster results, more and more talent managers are turning to online options that provide engaging content while measuring progress. According to LinkedIn’s report, 90% of companies offering digital learning methods are benefitting from this widely-available kind of training that encourages collaboration on user-friendly platforms, making it easier to make time for learning on the job. Take note: e-learning should not be the sole method of developing skills – it works best when bundled with in-person training.
An advantage of digital training, micro-learning is a way of developing necessary skills in a brief period of time, relying on short articles and tutorials to get the point across rather than spending an entire day learning a lot of information that doesn’t get fully stored. Recent trends following just-in-time and just-in-case methods propose employees learn well in short spurts—focusing on what they need to know and then applying it immediately. This informal way of teaching skills is less costly and less time-consuming than other forms of learning and turns responsibility over to the employee for learning, leading nearly half of talent developers to turn from full-immersion, multi-day and offsite training and toward this effective method.
While not an exact science yet, measuring L&D progress is ideal, whether it is measuring via online training programs or through employee surveys. Talent managers can use team metrics and retention numbers to quantify data about employee progress. About 33% of talent managers utilize some sort of progress tracking, while 44% of those rely on surveys specifically, according to LinkedIn.
Though making time in the workplace for learning and development can be tough, it’s a necessity that will reward businesses in the long run. Most employees agree that they do not have the time for learning on the job; however, 94% of surveyed employees said that they would stay at their jobs if their company invested in their development. Furthermore, millennials are at the forefront of demanding more investment on their behalves by their employer, meaning future talent gaps may be reliant on that very tactic. With more leader encouragement and potential promotions as a result, learning and development is not an outrageous demand for companies wanting to see a return on their investment.