Much like everything else in the world, training and development have been shaken up over the last couple of years. The great thing is, training is now becoming an even more crucial part of business life, meaning those who get it right can expect to reap the benefits in 2022. Here are some of the emerging training and development trends that all companies should know about.
A focus on the hybrid workforce
If you thought that training and development were difficult to manage before the pandemic, it’s perhaps even harder now. That’s because the workplace has changed. No longer is everybody working in the same building. You might have half your people working from home. Perhaps people are attending the office 2 days a week and working remotely for the other 3. This is the new, modern, hybrid workforce.
So, managing the training needs of staff who are spread far and wide becomes more complex. This necessitates a need for business to build their own learning ecosystems, whether by creating unique training courses for themselves or by partnering with training organisations to give their teams a range of learning and development opportunities.
Training for contractors
Another big shift in the way businesses operate now is the move towards hiring contractors and freelancers instead of permanent staff. The world was heading in this direction anyway, but it’s been pushed forward perhaps a bit quicker than most people thought. Part of this isn’t even due to a business choice, but rather that a lot of the best talent is choosing to work for themselves rather than stick with one permanent role.
As a result, businesses that want the best talent need to consider hiring people on a contract basis, but the need for training is often still there. Hiring freelancers doesn’t mean they just do one job for you and the relationship is over. Rather, companies are forming long-term relationships with their contractors so there will be an increased need for those contractors to receive certain training.
Training and development as part of the brand
Gone are the days when training courses were just something you sent all of your staff to once a month so you can tick a box and say you offer great training. Now, people are hungry for learning opportunities and this can even influence where they choose to work. For perhaps the first time in history, the power in the job market lies with employees rather than businesses.
The best people are willing to shift jobs regularly until they find the right fit, so you need an extra carrot to attract and retain top talent. Training and development are one of these carrots, and as such, should form part of your company identity. If you offer great, personalised training programs and support people to learn a wide range of skills, you set yourself up to become an employer of choice.
While most people are aware that shorter training courses are available, the market for this type of learning is still evolving. Rather than sequestering staff for a full day of training, they can be encouraged to participate in shorter courses more regularly. It’s better for them because they learn more and don’t get burned out sitting in a classroom all day. They also don’t have the stress of coming back to a pile of work the next day.
From a business perspective, they don’t lose a staff member for a whole day, and they can offer a wider variety of learning opportunities. So much training design now focuses on digital learning, such as eLearning or facilitated virtual classrooms. The technology is there, and businesses will continue to embrace it.
Training as part of everyday work
While businesses still need to maintain a degree of control over learning and development, we’re seeing a change in the way people approach learning. We’ve had the move away from classroom training in favour of digital learning solutions. But we’re also seeing that learning and development can also occur in a less-structured way.
Course libraries are one way that businesses can encourage this – offering a huge selection of learning opportunities that people can access when they want. They can also be encouraged to learn online. When it comes to digital learning, social media has begun to play a part, and this can be utilised inside a workplace too. Staff will be encouraged to share learning opportunities with their peers, which is terrific for building a culture of learning.
Unique training content for onboarding
With such a big shift in the entire business landscape of the past couple of years, we have seen huge turnover in many professions. The employment market was already moving towards a bigger focus on work/life balance, in the sense that people were beginning to favour great working conditions and flexibility above their rate of pay. Perhaps now that people have had some forced time away from the office, their appetite for remote roles has increased even further.
The result is a lot of people changing jobs, and businesses needing to manage a whole lot more onboarding of new staff. With a growing need to get people up to speed as quickly as possible, training as part of the onboarding process becomes an even bigger focus.
Re-training for a new career
In 2021, there was a phenomenon that some called ‘The Great Resignation’. This was a flow-on effect of the Covid-19 panic which saw many businesses close their doors, leaving people out of work. Or at least, with their careers on hold. Psychologically, this sparked a re-think among people from all walks of life.
For example, those in the hospitality and retail industries who were significantly affected decided en-masse to strive for new careers and better jobs. However, you can’t just decide you’re going to stop working in sales and become an IT professional without developing the skills required for a new role.
Ultimately, this has meant demand for specialised courses that allow people to re-train for a new career has never been higher.
A focus on soft skills
For many years there has been a dedicated push to give people specific skills. Whether it’s becoming a whiz at using Microsoft Excel or learning how to code websites. However, because the pandemic has shaken up so many industries, people are now looking for opportunities to build their soft skills. Of course, more specialised training is still extremely valuable and necessary but employees are looking to develop skills they can use anywhere.
Namely, we’re talking about leadership and other professional development courses. Learning things like how to communicate with influence or resolve conflicts are all part of great leadership. So, these are set to be some of the most popular training and development courses in 2022.
This rise in popularity is also being driven by the ongoing development of technology. As more mundane and repetitive tasks are being handled by computers (or even robots), the roles for humans in the workforce may require more of these soft skills rather than technical knowledge.
Training accessibility is everything
Above all else, the accessibility to training is going to be a huge focus moving forward. We’re pretty well placed to manage this trend because we’ve been forced to embrace remote work and hybrid workforce situations for two years now. However, the difference in 2022 will be that remote work is no longer forced, but rather a choice.
Not everybody loves working from home, but there are plenty who do. So, in order to attract top talent, employers will need to consider how they manage remote positions in the future. Training is a huge part of any business, so making sure people can access quality, engaging training from a remote setting will continue to be paramount.