Prediction 4: Corporate learning will be transformed and will take on more importance

By Josh Bersin January 7, 2015

Research by Erik Brynjolfsson of MIT shows that the increased specialization of workforce skills has dramatically impacted the whole economy.

First, it affects jobs: A study published by Oxford University in September 2013 shows that almost half the jobs we have today will be eliminated in the next 10 years. Jobs in accounting, law and service and most white-collar jobs are now under the threat of being eliminated or radically changed by technology.

Second, it impacts earnings: As Peter Robinson of Bloomberg reported in a 2012 article, 93 percent of the economic growth we saw in the most recent economic recovery went to only 1 percent of the U.S. population.

There seem to be an endless number of topics for training today: personal development skills, technical skills, and managerial and teamwork skills. In 2015, content will proliferate like never before. MOOCs (massive open online courses) and content marketplaces (Udemy and OpenSesame, for example) are unleashing an enormous new world of online content. You must familiarize yourself with all these options and make sure you are leveraging them.

Driven by the global, multicultural nature of business, face-to-face learning also has its place. Companies are reopening and building new corporate universities to help bring global teams together and make sure their culture and connections are as strong as their learning content.

Finally, it is time to throw away old ideas about e-learning and think about an integrated digital learning experience. When individuals need to learn something, they should be able to find a video, read a blog, take an online course or even run an app on their phone that may include a game and assessment to help them learn. The technologies of learning are now the same as the technologies for the consumer Internet, and organizations can use all these tools to build fantastic and integrated solutions.

Companies should focus on building a complete learning experience, including creating a learning culture, bringing people together to meet each other and leaders, and modernizing digital learning. Online videos have now set the standard, and Millennials who come to work at your company will look for similar systems.

Take a “supply chain” view of skills, realizing that it often takes many years for an employee to build deep skills in his or her role or organization. Career development programs, job rotations, competency-based assessment and simulations are increasingly important.

Your role as an HR or learning and development leader is to refocus your efforts on longer-term team capability development, creating a function that embeds local learning teams in the business but shares infrastructure and corporate programs wherever possible. As the economy picks up steam, your ability to rapidly deploy compelling learning programs will become a competitive advantage.

Josh Bersin is the principal and founder of Bersin by Deloitte, a research and advisory consulting firm in enterprise learning and talent management.

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