This Is the Future of Learning and Development

Here are eight seismic shifts that will impact how employees learn and develop in the future.

This Is the Future of Learning and Development

Organizations that prioritize learning and development see improvements in talent attraction, employee engagement, market position, and more.

In addition, the rapidly evolving demands of the marketplace have 91 percent of learning and development leaders agreeing that the skills necessary for today's workforce have changed.

The eight shifts highlighted below will move learning and development from a nice-to-have company perk to an imperative talent strategy for every organization.

8 Big Shifts in Learning and Development

1. Established Generations to Emerging Generations

In the past, generations approached learning conventionally. Learning was top-down, on-the-job, and delivered in conventional forms such as inside a classroom.

In the future, generations will approach learning unconventionally. Millennials and Generation Z have a much different relationship, expectation, and approach to learning. Learning now must be micro, mobile-first, innovative, beautifully designed, relevant, and on-demand to meet the needs of the next generation. These expanding expectations are a primary driving force behind the other learning and development shifts.

2. Generalized to Individualized

In the past, workers were likely to have multiple jobs and careers throughout their lifetime--even farther back and workers held only 1-2 jobs over an entire lifetime. Limited access to knowledge and information handcuffed past generations to consuming learning content that was generalized, out-of-date, and/or constricted by one point of view.

In the future, workers will have multiple jobs at one time. It won't be uncommon for modern workers to hold down a full-time job while participating in the gig economy (running a photography business, driving for Uber, racing drones, selling on Etsy, etc.). In this new world of work, workers are likely to engage with highly specific and individualized training that enables them to create an ever-growing constellation of nano-degrees that supplements their skills and interests.

3. Reputable Employer to Relevant Skills

In the past, workers achieved career longevity by going to work for a reputable employer. Workers used to line up at the doorstep of well-established employers eager to make their case as to why the company should hire them.

In the future, workers will achieve career longevity by continuously acquiring relevant skills. Employers used to do the interviewing of new workers, but today's workers are more likely to size-up the employer with an emphasis on how the company develops its employees. Tomorrow's worker will be attracted to the employer that enables employees to skill build using platforms like

4. Push to Pull

In the past, due to limited access to knowledge and information, training was easily deferred to certain times or seasons. Employers only made training available on a need-to-know or an as-needed basis. Workers were pushed training.

In the future, workers will expect training to be on-demand. Future workers will have grown up with finger-tip 24/7 access to the world's largest how-to video library, YouTube. They will expect their employer to provide similar on-demand video libraries to boost job and career performance. Workers will pull down training anywhere and anytime.

5. Learn-to-Work to Work-to-Learn

In the past, people have taken a linear approach to learning. People went to school, learned a trade, and then spent the rest of their working years applying what they learned. The model was learn-to-work.

In the future, people will take a lattice approach to learning (learn, unlearn, relearn, repeat). People will consider forgoing a traditional education (because it's not agile enough) to work for a company that provides the necessary personal and professional development. The model will be work-to-learn.

6. Centralized to Decentralized

In the past, information was centralized in books or in the minds of others. Learning was reserved for those willing (or lucky enough) to discover the information. The sharing of information was also centralized to those with access to a platform. Access to information was hierarchical.

In the future, information will be decentralized. Not only will learning be open to all with Internet access, but anyone desiring to share their knowledge can do so. In order for workers to learn at the accelerating speed of business, companies will unlock the speed of knowledge sharing across the entire organization. Access to information will be diffused.

7. Information Age to Perspective Age

In the past, knowledge was power in the information age. Because information was centralized, developing insights and expertise took time, resources, and knowing the right people.

In the future, applied knowledge is power. Workers who turn information into transformation through application will gain valuable perspective. The more perspective gained, the more valuable workers can be in an increasingly diverse workforce. However, with an overabundance of information, workers will need help from leaders to discover the right information and coach them through their learning.

8. Manual to Automated

In the past, learning was manual. Humans taught other humans with a hands-on approach.

In the future, learning will be automated. Humans will be taught by machines. Artificial intelligence will offer data-driven suggestions to improve worker performance or suggest skills. Information will be delivered intelligently and instantly when the learner needs it most.

[Full disclosure: I am a Partner at]

As a Millennial and Generation Z keynote speaker and trainer, I help companies lead, engage, and sell to the emerging generations. If you'd like help solving tough generational challenges inside your organization, click here.


Ryan Jenkins



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