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What to learn at the workplace in 2020

Employees must not only be very good at their jobs, but also be agile and continuously learn new skills to stay competitive.

By Irwin Anand

There has been a fundamental shift in the way we work, and learning and development (L&D) leaders have the task of preparing the workforce in this changing environment. Learning at work has to be redefined so employees can cope with automation and AI in the business sphere. Employees must not only be very good at their jobs, but also be agile and continuously learn new skills to stay competitive.

As per a PwC report, automation is set to affect all processes, making it a priority to upskill or provide training to current employees. So it is imperative that L&D leaders have insights about skills such as AI, data science and machine learning.

A recent report by Udemy for Business focuses on the top learning predictions for 2020. It outlines the learning trends that L&D leaders around the world are practising to help upskill employees, and foster an environment where the new retention narrative is to focus on skill fluidity.

Skill-mapping will chart the future
Automation has led to new responsibilities to existing roles and upskilling has become a bigger priority at the workplace. Today, upskilling for future responsibilities has gained momentum and L&D leaders are trying to get ahead of that. Skill-mapping has emerged as an area of focus where organisations are focused on predicting what kind of skills will be relevant for their workforce next. Organisations are even hiring experts to map their current workforce and bridge the skills gap and prepare the workforce for the future.

Focused capability academies will replace ad hoc training
Ad hoc training for current employees or hiring fresh talent has been a standard practice when organisations fill their skills gap. But since the workplace is evolving, the approach to fulfilling the demand for skills needs to change. There is an emergence of academies that are focused on providing workers with in-depth training and upskilling across all areas of expertise.

Communities will help keep skills up to date
The aim of social learning communities is to harbour an environment of collective learning. For example, if a group of employees knows a certain skill, it can share the knowledge with peers and help them better understand the context of the job. L&D leaders are integrating social communities to create a structured learning programme, and while online resources can be a prerequisite, live sessions within groups can help identify key areas that need to be addressed.

The L&D function is set to radically transform
The Fourth Industrial Revolution has cultivated an environment where technological processes are taking the front seat, disrupting businesses such as education, healthcare and real estate, among others. In 2020, L&D will continue transforming by implementing processes such as adaptive AI and chatbots to personalise learning paths. Leaders are set to be more agile in terms of content, imposing a shift from the era of creation to curation.

Organisations will build an internal talent marketplace
In 2020, much like the gig economy jobs, the workplace is transitioning to an area where employees will be chosen based on the skills they can offer for projects and short-term assignments, and not because of their roles. The aim of shifting to a role-less organisation is to provide existing workers with the chance to build themselves, mitigating the need to shift to other companies for the sole purpose of identifying a new role. The internal talent marketplace will provide them with a number of tasks with varying degrees of effort, so that at the end of it all they can choose what they want to do.

The author is MD, Udemy India