The Future of Work – the impact on workplace learning

Part two of our ‘Shaping the Future’ Learning series – in this blog we look at the future of work, the skills that are needed and how the learning industry is responding

What’s the future?

As individuals we’re not doing badly at keeping up with the pace of technology-led change, as shown in the graph below. It is easy to see how the ‘consumer as adopter’ is leading the way with technology use, with things like voice automated technology becoming common-place in our homes and cars, so it stands to reason that this will be the next big thing in the work-place. Voice automation is being adopted quicker than smart-phones – and although this is just one of many examples of technology, the point is that things are changing quickly and will continue to do so. 

What these individual technological impacts have on the world of work is a question that Professor Lynda Gratton of the London Business School has made it her life-work to answer.

In a recent summary of the 2019 Davos, the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, Professor Gratton stated that not only will most people around the world need to upskill and re-skill but they will need to do it faster, and that we need a massive push to prepare people for new jobs and skills.

This is backed up in Deloitte’s 2019 Human Capital trends which cites learning as the top-rated challenge: ‘People now rate the ‘opportunity to learn’ as among their top reasons for taking a job, and business leaders know that changes in technology, longevity, work practices and business models have created a tremendous demand for continuous, lifelong development’.


How will careers be different?

Prof. Gratton’s work on the changing nature of a career illustrates that we are working longer, staying in jobs for a shorter amount of time, and learned skills are becoming obsolete faster.

Predictions for future careers suggest that more people will have ‘portfolio’ careers, greater flexibility, and that that 50% of the workforce will be comprised of freelance by 2020 (see this study from Intuit)


Next wave of learning tech solutions

Given the pace of change in the workplace and the accessibility of learners via the web and mobile devices, it’s no surprise that the learning industry is transforming itself. The hardest challenge for L&D professionals is keeping up, as the tools and expectations are evolving rapidly. If you spend too long on procuring and implementing a new system you may well find that it is out of date by the time it is fully-functioning.

There is always lots of talk about the shiny new things in learning and development, and most will be aware of the possibilities of Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence. While these may seem like they are only in the realms of your silicon-valley and large corporate elites, there are elements from each of these that are far more mainstream. AI can be used to research, curate and tag content within a learning platform. Consider then the use of chatbots to answer questions and how this could develop into virtual tutors. Language learning is already being transformed with the advent of the language learning apps such as Duolingo, which has AI at its core.

Augmented reality is here now and is the ability to ‘augment’ or add to reality by adding an extra dimension – think of those museum visits where you can find out more about an exhibit by scanning a code on your i-phone. The Google translate app that allows you to scan any written text on your smart device and translate it in real time is another example.

Virtual reality is an immersive 3D experience designed for the user to feel they are a part of the environment – think of a flight simulator for this kind of application. Perfect for high-risk and cost-prohibitive environments – I heard an example of this being used for fire safety training on oil rigs.


Learning Enterprise Systems

Learning Management Systems – once the holy grail of the L&D Department, allowing e-learning and classroom training to be tracked and monitored are now being replaced with Learning Enterprise Systems – which allow for content ‘outside’ of the in-house system to be accessed.

What’s exciting about the arrival of Learning Enterprise Systems is that they can transcend the corporate world, and there are platforms out there that work for small businesses and individuals so that learning and tracking your learning is your concern, e.g. you take your account with you irrespective of where you work (check out paycompliment.com, degreed)

Bring all these elements together – digital platforms, digital tools and personalization via A.I. and it is quite clear that if we approach learning the same way we have always done, we may be missing out on huge opportunities. Read our next blog Future Active to see what you can do personally to keep ahead with your learning.

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