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The purpose of workplace Learning and Development (“L&D”) is to guide the managers and the employees using the concept of workplace learning by explaining the manner of selecting the appropriate method for a specific situation and demonstrating the manner in which such methods adds value to overall working pattern (Clifford & Thorpe, 2007). However, in the current age of constant change in digitalization taken place in the work space, it has led to creation of new quality of tools and tasks. This requires integration between the workers and the machines into the digital networks. Hence, there is a conceptual change in respect to the manner of workers’ adaption to digital transformation. In this context, this essay will explore the literature and evidence to discuss any potential opportunities and challenges for workplace L&D in next ten years. This essay proposes that the opportunities and challenges come in the form of consolidating the L&D experience of the last decade particularly in regard to delivering specific worker skill and requirement aligned with organisational goals.
L&D trends - last ten years and coming ten years
In the period from 2010 until 2019, as Intuition a knowledge solutions company observes, the L&D sphere saw: i) workshop learning in 2010 focussed on interactive methods of discussions and collaborative learning; ii) eLearning in 2011 through richer media experience with rapid and mobile eLearning; iii) personal interactive learning environments in 2012 with integrated and versatile learning solutions and certificates and accreditations focussed on employee retention programmes; iv) knowledge-sharing community in 2013 with attention to knowledge crowd-sourcing; v) presentation of teaching materials in different formats to suit new devices such as mobile, tablets, etc; vi) Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in 2014 providing free and easier accessibility; and vi) use of software applications in 2016 such as SaaS bringing versatility and agility in the learning systems (Intuition, 2021). L&D after 2016 saw a movement towards more of personalised and customised learning material and method. It saw i) cloud-based learning systems in 2017 with flexibility to personalisation and new educational technologies and learning library focussed on user experience and centralised point of learning; ii) marketing focussed and adaptive learning in 2018 with attention to creating management leaders and robust reports and analytics on learners performance, trends and patterns; and iii) close collaboration between management leaders and L&D and HR departments in 2019 focussed on aligning in-house learning and organisational goals in order to develop suitable competencies (Intuition, 2021). The 2020 global pandemic totally disrupted the entire working strategy, implementation and operation. It has affected L&D and the human resource operations. There has been recently an emerging trend of freelancing jobs. Accordingly, the traditional method of training will also change in terms of extending learning programmes to those workers outside the organisation. The emerging trend observed above may move the learning programmes towards an even more specific content and concept in regard to applicability to specific worker, project, work or companies’ goal. As seen in the period from 2010 until 2019, as it comes towards the 2019, the current phase of L&D is focussed on more user friendly and personalised learning. Companies seem to have identified the appropriate skillsets required to meet organisational goals. It is more specific in terms of the L&D aligned with an organisation goal. The new decade will see user focused learning system that involves creation of specific data trends created by the users. This trend facilitates training to accelerate specific content development. The data in respect to user generated content is in large volume that is integrated in training plans and programmes (Rivas, 2020). Coping with the current challenges presented by the global pandemic, more video learning will take place. This might present a challenge for the training departments to come with strategies to create and distribute video materials. However, the arrival of 5G technology may enhance the performance and the experience (Rivas, 2020). With the dependence of technology for L&D where users or workers may be place at different location and time zones, more of informal training will occur that will be embedded in the work and work tools (Rivas, 2020). L&D may be taken up by identified influencer in an organisation. For that to occur, the deeper analysis of a worker’s data may be needed to deliver personalised programmes aligned with organisational goals (Rivas, 2020).
Adaptation of worker to new digital process and strategies
Workers, as individuals, influence workplace learning workplace learning. They develop professional skills and expertise and capacities. They also develop professional identity and agency permitting to handle tasks and challenges of the work they do. However, the new age of digitilisation will lead to change in concepts associated with particular line of work (Harteis et al., 2020). This will impact the way workers influence the workplace and the manner they develop skills and expertise. Workplace L&D is relevant for the workers’ development. In that context, the new changes as described above will lead to permanent change in the work processes and structures. This will lead to challenges in respect to laying down customers’ expectations, meeting new market requirements, new mental models of workplace, laying strategic solution, etc (Harteis et al., 2020). The potential challenges relate to conceptual change in work methods and processes and the skills and proficiency required carrying out those work and processes. The age of digitalisation has introduced new procedures and tasks. It has impacted the methods of organising and executing the work (Fischer et al., 2018). One good example would be in context of cyber-physical systems (“CPSs”) and cyber-physical devices (“CPDs”). CPDs are tools with sensors and actuators, for example a welding robot. CPDs are embedded in CPSs. CPSs are networks connecting the CPDs (Harteis et al., 2020). This means the physical form of work is digitally represented and manipulated. The concern here is worker may not be able to understand how CPSs function in respect to how or what data is gathered or exchanged between CPDs. They may not be able to understand how CPSs make decisions that may in turn affect the nature of their work. This may present the work as a black box, which understanding is limited to certain specialists or developers. The assumption by the specialists or developers how users of CPDs would act may not be accessible to the users (Harteis et al., 2020). In this sphere, there may be two parallel worlds of that of the users or employees that use the new digital platforms and of the developers that are responsible for such platforms. There may be disconnect between the two groups of human resources and the corresponding challenge is to be able to address by L&D. This presents an important challenge in transitioning workers into the digital space. The digitalisation tendencies may influence the learning potentials of workplaces. It interferes the learning opportunities at work and brings changes to the work structure. At the same time, these challenges are representation of new opportunities. Digitilisation brings reduced workload and easier and faster management of work. An example is that of a digital document management system that allows faster distribution and accessibility of documents. It brings job control. It also brings job demands where portion of the work not digitised required diversity in work duties (Intuition, 2021). This creates opportunities for L&D to identify the job control and job demands rendering development of programmes to that effect. In that context, a human performance improvement approach provides for varied responsibilities to those professionals working in variety of positions, such as those mentioned above. Such responsibilities present opportunities of organisational development, human resources development and L&D amongst other things (Giacumo et al., 2018). In the sphere of new digitalisation age, it must be noted that there are specialist, trainers and managers who are specialised in performance improvement and can create training (such as self-paced eLearning) as well as non-training solutions (such as self directed learning) to cope with address and meet strategic business objectives (Giacumo et al., 2018).
L&D that is embedded in work practices may improve employees’ and organisations’ competitiveness. It constitutes an important tool in order to continue competence development (Manuti et al. 2015). With the rapid pace in technological development and competitiveness L&D may face challenges. In the current times, where professionals and team are entitled to flexible working methods, such as working remotely, there will be challenges of attaining the objectives of L&D. In this respect, the concept of self-directed learning will take place where individuals will undertake the increasing responsibility of learning. There will be more self-directedness and autonomy of the employees. Such self-directed learning will be executed by agile. There will be low hierarchies with less control of the organisation (Lemmetty & Collin, 2020). Such individual self-directed learning may serve as the tool to enable continuous competence development and creativity (D.Gijbels et al., 2012). Self-directed learning seems to be in continuance of the personalised user experience and learning as seen since 2017 mentioned above. Companies seem to know their forecast in terms of the business goals, the skills development and application and their alignment. With the advent of new advance technologies, this might have presented the capability to that effect. The concern may lie in finding the motivation behind self-directed learning. While exploring self-directed learning by Lemmetty and Collin (2020), some results show that the obliged learning is seen problematic and time-consuming with no motivation. There is lesser willingness to implement self-directed learning in a worker’s own time (Lemmetty & Collin, 2020). Self-directed learning is based on low-hierarchy principle and autonomy of learning, with responsibility on imposed on the learning individuals. This presents a possible problem where employees cannot monitor the learning or are not provided appropriate tools and support to complete the learning properly (Collin et al., 2018). This may distract the employers from their regular work deliveries because of stress and the external inability to complete the learning.
There has been an impactful change due to artificial intelligence and automation in respect to the business and its management. It observes that importance of smartphones that connect the millennials and Gen Zers, who make up the majority of current workforce. According to Cameron Bishop, CEO of SkillPath, a provider of learning and development solutions for business professionals, there has been sharp increase for modular and micro learning opportunities. Bishop sees more priority on L&D as it would be the biggest challenge to companies (Bishop, 2019). Future jobs will require new skills and as such employees must upgrade their skills (Bishop, 2019). Reviewing what is discussed here in this essay, it seems that the coming decade would see L&D consolidating the entire learning experience since 2010 that would comprise mainly analytical learning from user generated content and their data reports. This means workers will have access to a platform of all data available specific to his line of work. He would be able to create his own filters and design his materials from the analytical data and reports. The new framework of L&D would therefore comprise two groups of stakeholders. The first group would be the developers, such as developers of CPDs mentioned earlier, who would convert assumptions into software stories of L&D. The second group would comprise L&D managers, which would manage authorship, access rights and feed assumption to the first group. The third group would be the workers who would use the defined filters and rights to create their own on-demand learning and development content.
To conclude, the next decade will see opportunities of consolidating all the learning especially from 2017. L&D will be more specific to the developing and managing required skills, worker Learning and Development in the workplace in the next ten years. The challenge may be in the form of the distribution of the roles and responsibilities in regard to responding specific issues and complaints from the first and the second group. On-demand learning will operate as a wide-opened with already defined parameters based on user content and analysis. Specific cases may arise that may not be able to respond to issues raised by the first and the third group and even the L&D group too.
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