Five L&D trends to look for in 2021 and beyond

Mar 16, 2021 - 5 min read
Amanda Fawcett
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The role of learning and development (L&D) in the corporate environment became more important than ever when the 2020 pandemic hit. L&D has broadened to be one of the top business agendas across the board, as teams everywhere rush to support unprecedented changes to their organizations.

In fact, according to LinkedIn’s 2021 Workplace Learning Report, two top areas of focus for L&D programs are reskilling and virtual onboarding.

As organizations are forced to rethink how their teams meet goals, ongoing training and reskilling initiatives have become integral, facilitated by the digitalization of L&D programs. As we begin planning for a post-pandemic world, L&D must be part of our vision. Let’s discuss five L&D trends that you should look out for in 2021 and beyond.

This guide at a glance:


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Agile reskilling & upskilling initiatives

In 2020, following the sudden, unexpected shift to remote work and the digitalization of most corporate roles, it became clear that rapid reskilling is essential for businesses everywhere. In past years L&D programs relied on the comfort of long-term planning, like month-long initiatives to curate in-person learning events or performance improvement plans (PIP).

But now, learning must be faster than ever before, and teams have to adopt agile L&D programs to stay afloat and continue meaning business objectives. Evidence shows that an agile L&D strategy is here to stay, offering many benefits that overshadow pre-pandemic methodologies.

Rapid upskilling and reskilling initiatives will help businesses perform better in our fast-paced, revolutionized market, even after 2021.

Modern L&D programs will continue to focus on speed and adaptability, requiring new investments in advanced digital tools, team reorganization, and budget alterations. Tools that empower quick changes and flexibility are now a must going forward.


Diversity, equity, and inclusion training

Diversity and inclusion training (D&I) had already been gaining attention pre-pandemic, but it has been rightfully heightened in 2021. World events and public opinion has been a significant catalyst for improved diversity training initiates, with 76% of Americans stating that discrimination remains a critical problem in the workplace.

Organizations everywhere are called to reevaluate their values, learning opportunities, hiring practices, and demographics to cultivate a progressive work environment.

L&D plays a notable role in these goals, and the heightened conversation makes these training interventions more essential than ever. Some notable places of L&D intervention are inclusive succession planning training, diversity councils, employee resource groups, and equitable career advancement opportunities.

Moving forward, as D&I becomes more integrated with daily corporate conversations and processes, L&D teams will need to build programs and deliver training using modern, equitable practices that build for a just future.


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Virtual corporate education is here to stay

Digital learning models have been around for many years, but the events of 2020 forced L&D teams around the world to quickly adopt virtual learning and onboarding environments. This digital transformation has not come without its challenges, but the manifold benefits of a virtual L&D environment suggest that it’s here to stay as a valuable additive.

By using a digital model, teams have been able to quickly evolve digital methodologies based on what is working and what is not.

Integrating digital tools, like online curated learning paths, has proved successful for many organizations. Modern, efficient tools empower employees to work and learn without sacrificing their personal lives or workflow.

Moving forward, as we reintegrate back into the office, L&D teams will need to blend newly minted virtual training environments with in-person, collaborative events to ensure that learning is effective and adaptive.


Learning potential becomes a preferred soft skill

In past years, direct work experience and hard skills were an important part of both employment and internal promotion. But this is beginning to shift and will continue to broaden in our post-pandemic world, which has revealed that adaptability and learning potential can drive performance ahead of hard skills.

Corporate learning designs are increasingly dissected for their ability to drive overall business performance. This means that L&D programs will need to focus less on a person’s specific hard skills and more on curating an environment where employees have ongoing career advancement opportunities.

This shift may alter the traditional education pipeline and L&D programs as employers seek out applicants who welcome chances to learn and promote internally for skills that were once not as central.


Data-driven corporate learning programs

In the last years, sparked by the strains on the global market, data has become adopted in many corporate learning designs, and it will continue to be a standard approach.

The rise in big data has revealed how essential this information can be to all facets of business. By incorporating data in L&D programs, we expect to see cycles of learning that can be adapted based on business-driven data and growth goals that also accommodate employee outcomes.

Data-driven insights will continue to help organizations leave behind the stand-alone learning event culture of the past for an agile, continual environment of learning that benefits both the learners and data-driven business outcomes.

If you’re ready to start building a modern, adaptive L&D program, read what Educative for Business can do for you. Hands-on, curated learning allows your developers to be on-top of the latest technologies.


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WRITTEN BYAmanda Fawcett

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