A culture of learning and development (L&D) is crucial for companies that want to compete in industries facing disruption.

According to Econsultancy’s ‘How Marketers Learn‘ report, the organisations that invest in people and digital skills fall into the optimum category of performance, outperforming their peers in every industry.

So, while learning and development should be at the top of the agenda for many companies, what exactly should they be focusing on? Here’s a summary of some trends impacting L&D in 2019.

Customised learning opportunities

By 2020, millennials are expected to make up 35% of the global workforce, with Generation Z hot on their heels. These professionals crave more flexible, creative, and collaborative work environments – and L&D programs to match.

A study by Barnes and Noble college suggests that Generation Z learn more effectively in a social context. In contrast to the belief that technology leads to isolation, young people see tech as a way to connect with their peers, as eight out of 10 students say they prefer to study with friends. So while technology is key, this age group values face-to-face interaction and collaboration, making “no distinction between devices or online territories.” 

This means that organisations who take a flexible and varied approach – including both face-to-face and digital programs – are likely to be the most effective in engaging younger employees (as well as older demographics).

Interestingly, survey respondents in Econsultancy’s research found that face-to-face training ranked joint first in the list of the most beneficial types of learning.

how marketers learn

Anywhere, anytime

Further to a more social approach to learning, L&D teams are taking heed from wider HR practise, which is becoming increasingly flexible. A Deloitte survey found that 70% of survey respondents want management to support work-life balance, while 60% want a range of flexible working options.

Now, anywhere, anytime and any device (AWATAD) relates to more than just daily responsibilities, with the demand for learning and development to also be as flexible as possible.

This manifests itself in mobile-first content for on-the-go learning, as well as experiential learning from both informal training and experiences. Ultimately, a ‘one size fits all’ approach is waning, and being taken over by a more bespoke and employee-owned style of learning.

Demand for specific digital skills

According to government research, “digital skills are becoming near-universal requirements for employment”.

However, alongside basic digital skills (which are an essential entry requirement for two-thirds of UK SOC occupations) – employers are increasingly looking for digital skills related to the specific technical tools of a chosen discipline.

As well as career progression, the research suggests that the acquirement of specific digital skills may help workers avoid the risk of automation, by as much as 59%. A few examples of specific digital skills include search engine optimisation for marketers, and programming languages like R and Python for data analysts.

Further to this, a report by Burning Glass backs up the need for greater investment in data science skills, with demand growing across a range of sectors including the government, IT, and industrial and charitable industries.

Leadership skills

The role of L&D within organisations is primarily to manage the development of people, in a way that supports wider key business priorities. According to McKinsey, this involves five separate areas, including attracting and retaining talent, motivating and engaging employees, and creating a values-based culture. Another important strand is to develop people capabilities, or to make investments in the next generation of leaders.

This means that – instead of focusing on immediate or short-term progression – HR professionals are targeting talent with leadership potential from the get-go. This, alongside mentoring schemes and other leadership development programs can result in longer-term success and ultimately more profitable organisational goals.

How can Econsultancy help?

We help some of the world’s most successful brands to transform marketing capabilities across diverse teams, functions and markets.

We can help you to embed the right skills, knowledge and mindset in your organisation through our blended learning programmes and expert resources.

Find out more.