As new learning models continued to evolve this year, like micro-learning and gamification, some trends are just on the rise. What should L&D and HR professionals be looking for in the coming year? We delve into a few of the newest trends in employee development and learning.
1. Niche learning
From the emerging cannabis and craft beer industries to ever-evolving cybersecurity needs, specialized training is popping up across the country.
For the emerging legal marijuana industry, storefronts are popping up across America like weeds. Training — for growers, chemists and even retail employees — is critical in an industry expected to create a quarter of a million U.S. jobs by 2020. New vendors are even showing up in response. The industry now has its own training and staffing firms.
Brewmaster training is a new discipline on the rise, barely keeping up with demand. Through both in-person and online courses, the industry is trying to train the next wave of brewmasters in brewing, safety, regulatory compliance and business.
And with 1.8 million cybersecurity jobs projected by 2022, the majority of which will go unfilled, stakeholders in that space are getting creative. Bootcamp learning, for example, provides immersion training in the field and other tech disciplines. Micro-credentialing isn’t cheap — tuition rates for the 10 to 12 week courses are similar to a semester in state public college — but many camps have direct lines of recruitment to companies that hire cybersecurity experts, coders and more.
2. Training distributed teams
As more and more workers eschew the cubicle for remote work, training becomes a challenge. Training across distributed teams is creating new types of distance learning and connectivity programs for employers.
EY (formerly Ernst & Young), for example, launched a "virtual academy" that offers live, instructor-led courses on leading with questions, counselor excellence and negotiations skills, among other topics, according to Carolyn Slaski, vice chair of talent for EY Americas. It also implemented a program just for newly promoted manager and assistant directors.
“Both programs enable highly immersive learning experiences with the richness of coaching, all in a virtual setting and include innovative ways for our people to connect with their fellow learners through regular community calls, online chats, and robust, dedicated hubs such as EY SharePoint and Yammer sites," Slaski told HR Dive.
3. Ultra high-tech VR and AR
More and more, companies like KFC and Walmart are adopting VR to train employees.
At the University of Nebraska Medical Center they’re taking that training to the next level with a cutting-edge simulation facility opening next year. The facility is aimed at training the next generation of healthcare workers using simulations like virtual and augmented reality programming to provide real-world, experiential training scenarios.
"By accelerating the adoption of simulation in healthcare, our learners will gain real-world experience. This will help increase their knowledge base but also help them develop confidence in their abilities," Pamela Boyers, associate vice chancellor for the iEXCEL center, told HR Dive. "We’re addressing an experience gap. Through simulations we can offer almost any healthcare scenario possible, providing learners a chance to grow or practice their skills."
The university also says it expects the facility to improve employee engagement in training. “We wanted to create a stimulating learning environment that is exciting and engaging for students and faculty, and of particular appeal for a new generation of healthcare workers — that has been raised using digital and interactive technologies," Boyers said.
For companies that don’t have the budget for VR and AR training, on-demand training may be second best. Arabella Fedora of Right Management says that today's learners are conditioned to look information on their smartphones, as the need arises. "For learning on the job, our first instinct may be to Google before we’ll go to an online library housed on our company’s website," she said. L&D professionals can curate videos or book excerpts ahead of time (or even create their own videos) so workers can find what they need when they need it.
Whether it’s because the opioid crisis has created a talent gap in their community, or local colleges aren’t turning out computer science grads with the right skills, employers and community groups are looking to fill the skills gap on their own. Often, efforts have focused on upskilling those already in the workforce.
Walmart University will graduate more than 225,000 employees from its training academies in 2017. And it might just be working: the majority of store management personnel, 75%, began their career at the company as an hourly associate.
The talent gaps also have resulted in employers getting involved in training the next generation of workers — in some cases, must earlier than before. Apprenticeships, college partnerships and even new schools are emerging.
As 2017 comes to a close, there are many new trends in learning for employers to consider. With a mix of old-school on-the-job training and ultra high-tech options, it promises to be an exciting year for LD professionals.