Published on

October 27, 2022

What to expect of future learning in corporations


Marius Vennemann

Managing Director


Learning Hub

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A person learning in front of the computer

In this blog post, we'll cover future learning in a corporate environment . However, before we take a closer look at what the future of corporate learning will look like, we should first address why we should change anything at all.

What is future learning?

Future learning is a term that refers to the concept of continuous learning and development in order to adapt to and stay ahead of the rapid changes and advancements in technology and society. It emphasizes the importance of staying curious, open-minded, and proactive in learning new skills and knowledge in order to remain competitive and relevant in the future job market. Future learning can also refer to the use of emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality, in education and training.

What is New Work?

New work refers to a new way of thinking about and approaching work. It is based on the idea that work should be flexible, collaborative, and focused on personal growth as well as  fulfillment. New work values individual autonomy and creativity, and seeks to break down traditional hierarchies and corporate structures in favor of a more decentralized and agile approach. It emphasizes the importance of work-life balance, and the need for organizations to adapt to the changing nature of work in the digital age.

The reason for the change - skills gaps

Canyon representing the skills gap

The last few years have clearly shown us that the half-life of skills is getting shorter and shorter. Skills that we build up today are only relevant  for a few more years until we have to dedicate ourselves to new skills again. The pandemic in particular has shown us once again how important it is to build up digital skills.

At the same time, however, the ability to build new skills has not really improved.

In other words:

Our employees are still building skills at the same pace in their day-to-day work as they were a few years ago. And this despite the fact that the demands on us and our skills are completely different.

As a result, we are seeing more and more skills gaps among our employees, and they are only getting bigger over time.

At the same time, however, we are seeing that employees are increasingly struggling to specifically align training with their own goals and skill gaps.

Simply put, employees don't really know what  they are supposed to be learning and what they are supposed to be learning with. The options are simply too varied and we as companies and managers are unfortunately not yet doing a good enough job of providing the guidance we need.

So when we ask ourselves what future learning looks like and how to improve the current situation, we should address this issue in any case.

The future of corporate training: Lifelong learning

 In most areas, there is a great deal of disagreement about what  future learning actually looks like. Not so in corporate training. We talk to companies of all different sizes every day, and almost all the experts agree:

We need more self-directed learning - employees belong in the driver's seat and must be able to take control of themselves.

It is no longer enough for us to learn only in training or during our studies. Continuing education must happen throughout life if we want to close the looming skills gaps.

But what is also clear: Employees cannot start learning without orientation.

It must be carefully considered which skills are relevant; the result should come from a meeting of all parties involved in order to meet the various requirements. In the future, training must therefore fit the corporate strategy, but also the learner´s own personal goals. This also requires a clear development perspective for each individual employee.

So imagining the future is not really the problem. As is so often the case, it is the concrete implementation, the path to the goal, that fails along the way. This is because we, as a company and as employees, have to fulfill a number of prerequisites so that we can make the future outlined above a reality.

4 prerequisites needed for future learning

1. More relevant learning content & training is needed

Many companies believe that it is the quantity or quality of the learning content that fails. This is rarely the case. So what we need is not more content, but more relevant content. Employees lack good curation, that is, a contact person who recommends the right materials to learners based on prior knowledge and goals.

People showing the way

2. Employees' willingness to learn must increase

Today, the average employee continues their education for just under 8 to 16 hours a year. That can't really be called continuing education, but perhaps graciously titled maintenance.

We need to increase employees' willingness to learn. However, it is often not the lack of willingness that causes problems, but rather a prioritization that simply does not consider learning important enough. Employees are so busy with projects, administrative activities and regular tasks that there is simply no time for learning.

If learning becomes more effective and learning content more relevant, employees will recognize the emerging benefits of continuing education and thus also attribute greater relevance to the topic. In our guide, we show you how to measure training effectiveness.

3. Employees must be provided with more time for further training

As with sports, it is also true with learning: Good results take time.

"If you do the work, you get rewarded. There are no shortcuts in life.” — Michael Jordan

Nevertheless, this is not the end of the story. Executives and management also need to question what can be done to increase learning activity. An important step is involving managers in corporate learning, which can be a good motivation for employees.

Making learning a priority and allocating sufficient time is essential.

However, the return on investment must also be guaranteed here, which is why the most effective training measures possible are absolutely essential. Only then will managers be willing to give employees the time they need.

4. Continuing education must become much more practice-oriented

We have already talked a lot about the lack of effectiveness of continuing education.

One reason for this is the frequent lack of practical orientation in continuing education measures. Thus, the methodological knowledge we learn in the seminar fizzles out the moment we try to put it into practice in the much more complex cosmos of our own company.

But what does this mean for employees in concrete terms? What can we expect with a view to the future?

4 rising trends in corporate future learning

1. Corporate Learning will become more strategically relevant

Where today we are very free to decide what we actually want to learn or often learn what is needed NOW, in the future we will be much more oriented along company goals, new job profiles, skill profiles and specific use cases and projects when it comes to selecting the skills to learn. Learning content and frequency will therefore be increasingly aligned with the company's overall strategy.

2. Continuing education will become more personalized

Today, learning for most employees means a time-consuming, unpopular process of selecting videos and seminars from a sea of one-size-fits-all training.

There's not a trace of individualization. In the future, that will change. With the help of personalization technology learning paths will be directly adapted to employees' prior knowledge and objectives through skill assessments. Learning will thus become much more efficient, as only truly relevant materials will make it into the learning path.

3. Corporate Learning becomes more application-oriented

Where today we learn new skills in sandbox mode and fail to apply them in the complex day-to-day business, in the future we will learn much more directly on the job and be directly supported by mentors and experts. This will ensure that what is learned is actually relevant in everyday work and not just learned for the sake of learning.

4. Further education becomes more collaborative

Today, we mostly learn in single-player mode, watching videos alone and rarely sharing our knowledge. The future is much more collaborative - we'll be much more eager to work in cohorts toward common learning goals and share the results in specifically created learning communities. Peer learning will be a much more common practice, than it is today, making the learning process even more interactive.

Get started on corporate learning today

The corporate learning culture must and will change. The reason for this are the existing skill gaps. Experts associate the solution to this problem with self-directed learning. However, employees lack orientation for this due to the large amount of available content and the lack of personalization. But it is important to remember the fundamental principles of effective corporate learning. In our e-book, we'll explore the basics of corporate learning 101, it includes a 10-step guide on how to get started. Whether you're a seasoned training professional or new to the field, this e-book will provide you with the foundation you need to succeed in today's fast-paced business environment.

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Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung (BIBB)